The Orchestra of Opera North, led by conductor Dalia Stasevska, returns to Leeds International Orchestral Season to present a programme in celebration of the wonder of life, with the Romanian-born, Swiss soprano Ana Maria Labin.
This reflective programme opens with Lutosławski’s Musique Funèbre, a work composed in homage to the late Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, whose influence can be heard in the palindromic structures and the use of the twelve tone scale. Written for small string orchestra, the piece opens with two cellos in canon, one starting just one note later than the other, then a solitary viola joins, and gradually more and more instruments enter the sombre Prologue. The three concluding movements: Metamorphoses, the climactic but very brief Apogeum, and the Epilogue follow on without pause.
Ana Maria Labin joins the orchestra for Strauss’ Four Last Songs. Written at the age of eighty-four, the year before his death, the set comprises Frühling (Spring), September, Beim Schlafengehen (When Falling Asleep) and Im Abendrot (At Sunset). Each one of musical setting of texts by Hermann Hesse and Joseph von Eichendorff ponders the wonder of life and is unwavering in beauty. The result is a poignant insight into Strauss’ reflection on his own life and death and one of the most touching ways for a composer to end his career.
The concert closes with Bruckner’s Symphony No 7, a work that brought the composer great success. The first movement opens with a calm, singing melody in the strings, a melody Bruckner said came to him in a dream. The following Adagio, written in anticipation of Richard Wagner’s death who had been unwell for some time, opens with a quartet of Wagner tubas, warm-sounding brass instruments invented by Wagner for his operatic Ring Cycle which combine elements of the French horn and trombone. The third movement is a welcome, lively Scherzo, and the Finale introduces themes, developing them and then revisiting them in reverse order before reaching a grand, tremendous conclusion.
Dalia Stasevaska’s charismatic and dynamic musicianship has established her as a conductor of exceptional versatility. This season she will celebrate a number of debuts, including Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lyon at the Annecy Classics Festival, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, in December, she had the honour of conducting the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic at the Nobel Prize Ceremony in Stockholm. Dalia currently works with BBC Symphony Orchestra with whom she was recently appointed Principal Guest Conductor, Trondheim Symfoniorkester, Gävle Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of Opera North#
Swiss soprano Ana Maria Labin made her debut in the role of Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte at the Drottningholm Festival 2017 with Marc Minkowski conducting, and sang the same role with Maestro Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre at the Enescu Festival in Bucarest, the Opéra royal de Versailles, and the Mozartfest Würzburg. Ana Maria established herself as an acclaimed Mozart singer as Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni in Drottningholm and Versailles, also performing Donna Anna at Glyndebourne On Tour and Contessa at the Estate Theatre Prague and at Opera North. Other Mozart roles include Arminda in La Finta giardiniera at the Festival Aix-en-Provence, Luxemburg and Toulon, Celia in Mozart’s Lucio Silla, staged by Günter Krämer at the Mannheimer Mozartsommer under the baton of Dennis Russel Davies/Adam Fischer and Erste Dame in Die Zauberflöte at the Bayerische Staatsoper München, Opera Amsterdam, Opéra de Montpellier and Théâtre du Châtelet Paris.