HAYDN: The Creation
Renowned for his distinctive interpretations, Manfred Honeck has served as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since the 2008-2009 season. He and the orchestra are consistently recognized for their performances and are celebrated both in Pittsburgh and abroad. To great acclaim, they regularly perform in major music capitals and festivals, among them the BBC Proms, Musikfest Berlin, Lucerne Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, Grafenegg Festival, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony also have built a close relationship with the Musikverein in Vienna. Following a week-long residency in 2012, they returned for three performances in the course of an extensive tour of Europe in spring 2016. Their next tour, in summer 2017, will again lead them to Europe’s most prestigious music festivals.
Honeck's successful work with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has been extensively documented on recordings with the Reference Recording and Exton labels. All SACDs released by Reference Recordings, among them Strauss tone poems, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4, Beethoven Symphonies No. 5 and 7 and, most recently, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, have received numerous rave reviews and honors. The recording of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 and the Symphonic Suite from Janáček's opera Jenůfa, conceptualized by Honeck, was nominated for a Grammy Award, as was Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4. Several recordings, including Mahler's Symphony No. 4, which won a 2012 International Classical Music Award, are also available on the Japanese label Exton.
Born in Austria, Honeck received his musical training at the Academy of Music in Vienna. Many years of experience as a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra have given his conducting a distinctive stamp. He began his career as assistant to Claudio Abbado and as artistic leader of the Vienna Jeunesse Orchestra. Subsequently, he was engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where he was bestowed the prestigious European Conductor’s Award in 1993. Other early posts include Leipzig, where he was one of three main conductors of the MDR Symphony Orchestra, and Oslo, where he assumed the post of music director at the Norwegian National Opera on short notice for a year and was engaged as principal guest conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. From 2000 to 2006, he was music director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm and, from 2008 to 2011 and again from 2013 to 2016, principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.
From 2007 to 2011, Honeck was music director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart where he conducted premieres including Berlioz's Les Troyens, Mozart's Idomeneo, Verdi's Aida, Richard Strauss's Rosenkavalier, Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites and Wagner's Lohengrin and Parsifal, as well as numerous symphonic concerts. His operatic guest appearances include Semperoper Dresden, Komische Oper Berlin, Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Royal Opera of Copenhagen, the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg and the Salzburg Festival. Moreover, he has been artistic director of the International Concerts Wolfegg in Germany for more than 20 years.
As a guest conductor, Honeck has worked with the world’s leading orchestras including the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Staatskapelle Dresden, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Accademia di Santa Cecilia Rome and the Vienna Philharmonic. Orchestras he has conducted in the United States include the New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra. He is also a regular guest at the Verbier Festival. His successful debut with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra resulted in a CD recording of works by Dvořák for Deutsche Grammophon together with Anne-Sophie Mutter, which received an Echo Klassik award in 2014. In the 2016-2017 season, he will return to Berlin and also continue his regular collaboration with the orchestras in Bamberg, Stockholm, Oslo, Prague and Rome. Other guest engagements include San Francisco Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Israel Philharmonic and Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.
Honeck has received honorary doctorates from Carnegie Mellon University, St. Vincent College and the Catholic University of America. Most recently, he was awarded the title of honorary professor by the Austrian Federal President.
Sam Helfrich is an opera and theater director based in New York.
Recent opera highlights include the world premieres of Enemies: A Love Story, based on the novel by Isaac Bashevis Singer (composer: Ben Moore) at Palm Beach Opera and Embedded, by composer Patrick Soluri, at Fargo-Moorhead Opera; Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos and Andre Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire at Virginia Opera; Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking and John Adams’ Nixon in China at Eugene Opera; Philip Glass' Kepler (in its American premiere), Charpentier’s Louise and Anthony Davis’ Amistad at Spoleto Festival/USA; Menotti’s The Consul and Poulenc’s La Voix Humane at Glimmerglass Opera; Rameau's Les Indes Galantes, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Handel’s Agrippina with Boston Baroque; Philip Glass’ In the Penal Colony and Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana with the String Orchestra of Brooklyn; a fully staged Handel Messiah with the Pittsburgh Symphony; the world premiere of Michael Dellaira's The Secret Agent at Center for Contemporary Opera in New York, Armel Opera Festival in Hungary and Opera Avignon in France; And Philip Glass' Orphée at Virginia Opera, Portland Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, and Pittsburgh Opera.
Recent New York theater productions of Tape, by Stephen Belber, and the world premiere of Owned, by Julian Sheppard, played to wide acclaim, and he recently directed a production of Arthur Miller’s After the Fall at NYU/Tisch.
Other projects include a new production of Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld at Virginia Opera, a world premiere with the Pittsburgh Opera, semi-stagings of the Bach St. John Passion and Haydn’s The Creation with the Pittsburgh Symphony, and a new theatre/symphonic production of Lermontov’s Masquerade with the String Orchestra of Brooklyn.
Helfrich has recently been appointed associate arts professor and area head of dramaturgy in the NYU/Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Department of Design for Stage and Film. He has also held guest teaching positions at Yale School of Drama, Yale School of Music, Manhattan School of Music and Shenandoah Music Conservatory
He received his B.A. in Russian Literature, as well as his MF.A. in Theater Arts, from Columbia University.
Hailed as one of the finest choruses in the country, the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh (MCP) is proud of its long artistic partnership with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and looks forward to another exciting season at Heinz Hall. Primarily a volunteer chorus, the Mendelssohn Choir is composed of more than 100+ singers whose passion and commitment enables them to perform alongside the world’s greatest musicians. In addition to its performances with the PSO, the Mendelssohn Choir produces its own community concerts and provides professional choral instruction to talented young people through the Junior Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh.
MCP is committed to offering a mix of traditional and innovative choral performances to maintain the vitality and relevance of the choral art. Under its new music director, Matthew Mehaffey — MCP’s seventh music director in its 109-year history, MCP looks forward to bringing Pittsburgh audiences more concert experiences such as “The Music of Downton Abbey” (October 2016) and the Pittsburgh premiere of Annelies, a choral work based on the Diary of Anne Frank, (February 2017). Last summer, MCP partnered with composer/conductor Steven Hackman to perform “Defying Gravity,” a concert of Hackman’s arrangements and choral mash-ups at the Three Rivers Arts Festival. The concert was Hackman’s premiere performance at the Arts Festival and was MCP’s first appearance on the Festival’s mainstage after a 40-year hiatus. MCP and Hackman later performed the “Defying Gravity” concert at Oglebay, West Virginia.
For 26 years, MCP was privileged to call Robert Page (1927-2016) its music director. A legendary choral conductor, arranger and musician, Page transformed the choral field as well as the institutions he was a part of such as the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh. He will be remembered as a champion for symphonic choruses to have the respect that they deserve as performers. But most of all, he will be remembered by the Mendelssohn’s extended family of singers as someone who inspired and touched their lives through his music, his friendship, his mentorship and his larger-than-life personality. As individuals, and as an organization we are better for having known Page.
As the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s “chorus of choice,” the Mendelssohn Choir has performed with some of the world’s foremost conductors including Lorin Maazel, Mariss Jansons, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Michael Tilson Thomas, Claudio Abbado, Mstislav Rostropovich, Leonard Slatkin, Charles Dutoit, André Previn, Sir Neville Marriner, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Helmuth Rilling, Ingo Metzmacher, Richard Hickox, Zdenek Mácal and Manfred Honeck. Performances of the Choir with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are heard locally over WQED-FM (89.3) and distributed nationally by PRI.
Committed to fostering the choral art form, the Mendelssohn Choir has numerous recordings, commissions and premieres to its credit, including works by Ned Rorem, Nancy Galbraith and Derek Bermel. The Choir’s most recent recording released in fall 2011 is Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Children’s Festival Chorus of Pittsburgh with Manfred Honeck conducting.
For more information on the Mendelssohn and Junior Mendelssohn Choirs and upcoming performances go to themendelssohn.org.
Rachele Gilmore has established herself as one of America’s most sought after coloratura sopranos, and continues to thrill audiences around the globe combining what Opera News describes as a “silvery soprano…with an effortlessness that thrills her audience.” A regular performer in America, Europe and Asia, Gilmore is consistently praised for being “the vocal standout” and a dynamic actress; “displaying more talent and charm than any one person should be allowed to possess.”
Gilmore’s 2016-2017 season features performances of Gretel in Hansel und Gretel with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Marie in La fille du regiment with Austin Opera and Olympia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann with Hawaii Opera. She will also appear in concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for performances of Haydn’s Creation; the Seattle Symphony, singing the roles of Feu, Princesse and Rossignol in performances of Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges; and with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for a performance of Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate and three songs by Duparc.
The 2015-2016 season included performances of Blondchen in Die Entführung aus dem Serail with the Theâtre Champs-Elysées, and returns to Boston Lyric Opera as Sophie in Werther and the Glimmerglass Festival as Ninetta in La gazza ladra.
The 2014-2015 season featured a reprisal of the role of Alice in Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, she debuted with Opera Omaha as Gilda in Rigoletto, NCPA Beijing as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, and closed the season as Blondchen in Die Entführung aus dem Serail in a debut with Festival d’Aix en Provence.
In the 2013-2014 season, Gilmore’s engagements included the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor for her debut at Opéra de Lille; La Monnaie in Brussels for Ophélie in Hamlet; Olympia in Les contes d’Hoffmann with the Bayerische Staatsoper; Gilda with Opera Colorado; and a return to the Glimmerglass Festival, as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos.
The 2012-2013 season brought Gilmore’s role debut as the Queen of the Night in Opera Philadelphia’s production of Die Zauberflöte and highly acclaimed performances as Amina in La sonnambula with Florida Grand Opera.
During the 2011-2012 season, the soprano made her debut with Teatro alla Scala, as Olympia in Robert Carsen’s production of Les contes d’Hoffmann; sang Blonde in Die entführung aus dem Serail with Grand Théâtre Genève, bowed as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opéra de Vichy, reprised the roles of Das Feuer and Die Nachtigall with the Bayerische Staatsoper, and sang her first performances of Cunegonde in Candide with Portland Opera.
To begin the 2010-2011 season, Gilmore returned to the Metropolitan Opera, covering the role of Olympia in Les contes d’Hoffmann, following which she sang the roles of Das Feuer and Die Nachtigall in L’enfant et les sortileges with the Bayerische Staatsoper, led by Kent Nagano. She then returned to Knoxville Opera to make her role debut as Elvira in Bellini’s I Puritani, and took the stage as Gilda in Rigoletto with Michigan Opera Theater.
Most notably in 2009, Gilmore made a “show-stopping” [Classical Source] debut with the Metropolitan Opera, in the role of Olympia in Les contes d’Hoffmann. Gilmore began the 2009-2010 season as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos with Indianapolis Opera, and performed this role later in the season for Boston Lyric Opera. In February of 2010, Gilmore made her house and role debut with Knoxville Opera in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor. In the spring, she sang the title role in the groundbreaking Swiss premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland with Grand Théâtre de Genève. Other notable appearances include her European debut with Deutsch Oper am Rhein, singing Blondchen in Die entführung aus dem Serial.
Gilmore is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, and received her Bachelor’s of Music from Indiana University and continued with Graduate studies at Boston University. She was a member the Young Artist Programs of Glimmerglass Opera, Florida Grand Opera and Aspen Music Festival’s Opera Center, and was a winner in Placido Domingo’s Operalia World Opera Contest in Paris.
German tenor Werner Güra, born in Munich, received his musical training at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and completed his vocal studies with Professor Kurt Widmer. Furthermore he was coached by Nicolai Gedda, Professor Margreet Honig, Amsterdam, and Professor Wessela Zlateva, Vienna.
After guesting at the opera houses of Frankfurt and Basel he joined in 1995 the ensemble of the Semperoper Dresden where he sang the important Mozart and Rossini parts of his Fach.
Daniel Barenboim invited Werner Güra for various productions at the Staatsoper Berlin. He continued as guest in Dresden and furthermore sang his highly acclaimed Mozart roles Tamino, Ferrando and Don Ottavio at Teatro Carlo Felice, Genova, Opera of Lille, La Monnaie Brussels and the Opéra National de Paris, at the Innsbruck Festival für Alte Musik and in Baden-Baden.
At this stage of his career, Werner Güra concentrates his activities to vocal-symphonic and oratoria works. He sang on the important European concert stages such as Konzerthaus and Musikverein Wien, Royal Festival Hall London, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Philharmonie Berlin, Philharmonie Paris and worked with many orchestras including Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Wiener Symphoniker, BBC Symphony Orchestra, the German, Dutch, Spanish, Danish Radio Symphony Orchestras, the Gulbenkian Orchestra Lissabon, with conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Chailly, Michel Corboz, Sir Colin Davis, Adam Fischer, Bernard Haitink, Daniel Harding, Thomas Hengelbrock, Philippe Herreweghe, René Jacobs, Marek Janowski, Armin Jordan, Philippe Jordan, Ton Koopman, Fabio Luisi, Kurt Masur, John Nelson, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Sir Roger Norrington, Trevor Pinnock, Helmuth Rilling, Sir András Schiff, Ralf Weikert, Thomas Zehetmair, David Zinman. The tenor enjoys frequent co-operation with Nikolaus Harnoncourt under whose baton he appeared at Wiener Musikverein, Styriarte Festival, Philharmonie München, Concertgebouw Amsterdam and on tour in Japan.
After a long period of only concert appearances Werner Güra decided to participate in Opera Zurich’s new production of “Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in patria” in May/June 2014.
Recordings include Fidelio (Jaquino) with Daniel Barenboim for Decca; under the label of Harmonia Mundi Werner Güra recorded T¬ele¬mann's Orp¬heus, Schu¬mann's Der Rose Pilger-fahrt, Bach's Weih¬nacht¬so¬ratori¬um and Matthäus Passion (arias), and with René Jacobs Der hoch¬müti¬ge, gestür¬zte und wieder erhabe¬ne Croesus (Edison 2002), Così fan tutte and Haydn’s Jahreszeiten. For Sony/BMG he recorded Haydn’s Orlando Paladino and Die Jahreszeiten as well as Bach’s Weihnachtsoratorium, and. Unitel Classica launched on DVD Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, all of these under the baton of Nikolaus Harnoncourt. The recently launched CD of Bach’s St Matthew Passion conducted by René Jacobs (Harmonia Mundi) features Werner Güra as Evangelist for which he received high international acclaim.
Werner Güra is also much appreciated as Lied interpreter and gives recitals amongst others in the London Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Lincoln Center New York, Musikverein Wien, at the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg. In autumn 2000 appeared Werner Güra's first solo recording for Harmonia Mundi: Schubert - Die schöne Müllerin, to be followed by Schumann: Dichterliebe, Liederkreis and Hugo Wolf’s Mörike Lieder, all with pianist Jan Schultsz. Latest releases, also by Harmonia Mundi and with pianist Christoph Berner, are Schöne Wiege meiner Leiden, featuring songs by Clara & Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms, Schubert’s Schwanengesang, Winterreise, and Mozart Lieder. All these solo CDs received the Diapason d’or and were elected Editor’s Choice in Gramophone. For his Winterreise Werner Güra received the BBC Music Magazine Award “Vocal” 2011. For his latest Schubert-CD Willkommen und Abschied he was awarded the prestigious German ECHO-Klassik prize 2012.Latest release: Beethoven “Lieder & Bagatellen”.
Werner Güra teaches since 2009 at the Music Academy Zürich.
Alexander Elliott debuts a multitude of roles in the 2016-2017 season at theaters across the United States. He begins his season in October in his debut with The Knights as the soloist for Master Peter's Puppet Show. He returns to Tulsa Opera in December for an exclusive concert with acclaimed soprano Leona Mitchell singing operatic and holiday duets. He debuts with the Greater Bridgeport Symphony under Music Director Eric Jacobsen for Marcello in La boheme in December, and in May reprises the role with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra under Music Director Ward Stare. He makes his house and role debut in February singing Gulgielmo in Cosi fan tutte with Opera Omaha, and debuts the role of Edward Kynaston in Florida State Opera's production of Prince of Players in March, working with composer Carlisle Floyd.
Elliott’s 2015-2016 season began with his role debut as Marcello in Puccini's La boheme for his return to Tulsa Opera. Elliott made his house and role debut as John Brooke in Little Women with the Madison Opera in January 2016, followed by his debut as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with the Orlando Philharmonic in April. He returned to the Portland Opera for their inaugural 2016 festival season making two role debuts: as Anthony in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, and as the title role in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. Elliott appeared in concert with Opera Louisiane for a special Valentine's Day concert in February, followed by his debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony as Pilatus in Bach's St. John Passion under Music Director Manfred Honeck.
Additional performances as a young artist with Portland Opera include Belcore in L'elisir d'amore, Le Dancaïre in Carmen, Frank in Die Fledermaus, and Sam in Pirates of Penzance. Other young artist programs include with Central City for performances of Il barbiere di Siviglia as Figaro and as Frank in Rorem’s Our Town; Des Moines Metro Opera covering the title role and singing the part of the Captain in Eugene Onegin as well as singing Périchaud in La Ronidne; and San Francisco Opera's Merola program covering the title role of Don Giovanni.
Elliott made his role debut as Il conte Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with Tulsa Opera in 2013, where he sang the Corporal in La fille du régiment and the Postman in Loesser’s Most Happy Fella as a 2012-2013 studio artist.
An active concert performer, Elliott performed with the Florence Symphony as the bass soloist in Mozart’s Requiem in 2013 and with the Pensacola Symphony singing Handel’s Messiah in 2009. He also performed Vaughan Williams' Hodie with the Tulsa Oratoria Society in 2012, and Five Mystical Songs with the Albany Chorale in 2009. In 2013, Elliott received the John Moriarty Award for his outstanding contribution to Central City Opera.
Elliott received his training at Florida State University where he studied with David Okerlund.