Conductor Gabriele Ferro
Maida Hundeling, soprano
Thomas Gazheli, baritone
Lyrische Symphonie, op.18, for soprano, baritone and orchestra
Salome, final scene
The Istrian composer Antonio Smareglia (1854-1929) attempted a new path the in Italian melodrama, linking himself to the symbolist librettos of the poet from Trieste Silvio Benco. The second outcome of their trilogy, Oceàna, inspired by the marine paintings of Arnold Böcklin, had the great prestige of being presented at La Scala under the conduction of Arturo Toscanini (1903). Tepid result and praise from Gabriele D’Annunzio («Oceàna is a musical fabric of such continuous and soft sweetness that envelops you in a dream and you would wish it never ended»). Oceàna ended up being considered something foreign, like the whole production of Smareglia: too Wagner for Italians and too Italian for the Nordics. Among the authoritative composers who encouraged Smareglia, there was also Richard Strauss who on the 9th December 1905 got his first resounding success in the theatre with the one-act-opera taken from the scandalous Salome by Oscar Wilde, inaugurated in Dresden under the conduction of Ernst von Schuch, (another of the German musicians who appreciated Smareglia). Unfortunate fate – similar to that of Smareglia – had Alexander von Zemlinsky (1871-1942), orchestra conductor admired by Arnold Schoenberg and Alban Berg who died as a neglected exile in America. His composer’s stature would suffice his best-known work, the Lyrische Symphonie (1923), a sung symphony, as the Song of the Hearth by Mahler. Seven orchestra lieder, whose lyrics come from the collection The Gardener of the then famous Bengali Nobel Prize winner, Rabindranath Tagore.
He graduated in piano and composition at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia. In 1970 he won the RAI competition for young conductors. He has directed the RAI orchestras, Santa Cecilia, La Scala in Milan, the Wiener Symphoniker, the Orchester de la Suisse Romande, the Orchester de Radio France, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, the Orchester National de France. He was the permanent conductor of the Sicilian Symphony Orchestra, principal conductor of the Rai Orchestra of Rome, Generalmusikdirektor of the Stuttgart Staatstheater, musical director of the San Carlo in Naples and principal conductor (2001-2006) and from 2014 musical director of the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. He has directed opere by Berio, Clementi, Maderna, Stockhausen, Ligeti, Nono in a world premiere. He has collaborated with the most important theaters and festivals (Fenice of Venice, Scala of Milan, Opera of Rome, Comunale of Florence, Bastille and Châtelet of Paris, Muziektheater of Amsterdam, Grand Théâtre of Geneva, Bayerische Staatsoper, Chicago Opera, San Francisco Opera , Los Angeles Opera, Tel Aviv Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Teatro Real of Madrid, Covent Garden ROH of London, Wiener Festwochen, Rossini Opera Festival, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and Biennale di Venezia). For Elektra in Naples he received the Abbiati award. He is Professor of Direction at the School of Music of Fiesole and academician of Santa Cecilia. In 2019 he directed Turandot for the inauguration of the Teatro Massimo and Madama Butterfly season at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples.
Teatro Massimo Orchestra
Active since the inauguration of the Teatro Massimo in 1897, it began as a stable organism in 1960, dedicating itself mainly to the opera, but also always performing the symphonic repertoire during the concert seasons.
It was directed by all the most important Italian directors (among others Franco Capuana, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Tullio Serafin, Vittorio Gui, Antonino Votto, Ottavio Ziino, Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, Carlo Maria Giulini) and by illustrious names such as Paul Hindemith, Pierre Monteux, Otto Klemperer, Lovro von Matacic, Zubin Mehta, Myung-Whun Chung. In recent years he has played in Florence under the direction of Placido Domingo and in Taormina directed by Zubin Mehta, and has participated in the tour of the Massimo Theater Foundation in Oman (2016 and 2019) and in Japan (2017) and a recording by Jonas Kauffman and Marina Rebeka.
Since 2014 the musical director is Gabriele Ferro.
“The first night was unbeatably crowned by German soprano Maida Hundeling … She sang securely and beautifully in all registers, she is a charismatic and sophisticated soprano singer in her prime means of expressing emotions, varying from dreamy girl to later a determined woman…” (Novinky.cz)
Soprano Maida Hundeling’s 2018/19 season features several appearances at prestigious opera theaters throughout Europe. She makes her highly anticipated debut at the Royal Opera House as Helmwige in Keith Warner’s production of Wagner’s Die Walküre, led by Antonio Pappano, later reprising the role at the Staatsoper Hamburg conducted by Kent Nagano. She will present her first Brünnhilde (Die Walküre) conducted by Stefan Anton Reck at Teatro Petruzzelli in April 2019. At the Slovak National Theater, she stars in two of her signature Puccini title roles beginning with Tosca led by Martin Leginus then as Turandot later in the season. Hailed as a “top class Elektra” by Online Music Magazine last season, Ms. Hundeling concludes her 2018/19 season singing the title role of Strauss’ Elektra at the Croatian National Theatre in Rijeka.
In 2017/18, she began her season singing Leonore in Beethoven’s Fidelio at the Stadthalle Biberach to great acclaim. She returned to the role of Senta in Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer at the Theater Lübeck and at the Teatro Petruzzelli di Bari. She was lauded for her portrayal of Strauss’ Elektra at the Staatstheater Braunschweig before returning to her signature title role of Tosca at the National Theatre Brno led by Ondrej Olos, and then at the Thurn und Taxis Schlossfestspiele where she was praised for her “full, dark primed soprano voice” (Mittelbayerische.de). Ms. Hundeling traveled to the The National Moravian-Silesian Theatre to sing Desdemona in Ivan Krejči’s production of Verdi’s Otello, where she received the annual Thalia prize. and following returned to the Slovak National Theater for the title role of Turandot.
Recent highlights on the operatic stage include Maida’s thrilling debut at the Houston Grand Opera as the Foreign Princess (Dvořák’s Rusalka); the title role in Verdi’s Aida at the Schweriner Schlossfestspiele; and Turandot, Elsa (Wagner’s Lohengrin), and Leonore (Fidelio) at the SND Bratislava; and the title roles in Tosca and Janáček’s Jenůfa as well as Aida and Turandot at Hungary’s Bartók Plusz Operafesztivál and with the National Theatre Brno, as well as a concert version of Strauss’ Elektra with the Slovak Philharmonic.
In addition to her singular interpretations of the operatic canon’s most exciting soprano roles, Maida Hundeling is also highly regarded in recital and concert repertoire, including recent performances in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi; singing Magna Peccatrix in Mahler’s Eighth Symphony at the Festival Smetanova Litomyšl; featured performances at a Wagner Gala with the Ostravian Philharmonic Orchestra; and recital performances of Wagner’s Wesendonk Lieder for the chamber music programs at Passau and Landshut.