The soprano Ruth Ziesak studied with Elsa Cavelti at the University for Music and Performing Arts Frankfurt am Main. Numerous successes in competitions, amongst others the first prize at the German Music Competition and at the renowned s’Hertogenbosch Contest soon paved her way for an international career. Meanwhile Ruth Ziesak holds her own professorship for singing at the University for Music Saar.
After first performances at the Heidelberg Theatre and the Deutsche Oper am Rhein Düsseldorf/Duisburg her way took her to the international stages of Munich, Milan, Berlin, Florence, Vienna, Paris, London and New York where she excelled in her famous roles as Pamina, Ännchen, Marzelline, Ilia or Sophie.
Meanwhile she has broadened her repertoire and made her debut as Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro in Glyndebourne and Zurich. Also Mozartʼs Donna Anna – in concert version at the Herrenchiemsee Festival – belongs to these new roles of her repertoire.
The multi-faceted artist is a highly demanded concert singer and also enjoys singing with baroque orchestras such as the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra. She guest performs at the Salzburg Festival and the Lucerne Festival.
In the recent time Ruth Ziesak sang concerts such as Beethovenʼs Missa solemnis with the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic under the baton of Herbert Blomstedt, with Concerto Köln and the NDR Choir (Händel/Messiah), with the Czech Philharmonic Prague and Manfred Honeck (Schmidt/Buch mit den sieben Siegeln), with the MDR Symphony Orchestra under Jun Märkl, with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra (Bach: Jauchzet Gott). She also performed in Johannes Brahmsʼ Deutsches Requiem with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jukka Pekka Saraste.
In 2013 Ruth Ziesakʼs engagements include Schumannʼs Paradies und die Peri under Emanuel Krivine, with Christoph Eschenbach and the Orchestre National de France in the Salle Pleyel in Paris (Brahms Requiem), Schumannʼs Faust-Szenen and the Frankfurt Museum Orchestra under Sebastian Weigle, Mendelssohnʼs Paulus (conducted by Lothar Zagrosek) with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg as well as with the Vienna Philharmonic under Leopold Hager in Rome. In 2014 she will guest perform at the Orquesta sinfonica RTVE in Madrid and also with the Orquesta de Valencia under Yaron Traub with Poulencʼs Stabat mater, at the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and also at the Lucerne Festival with Beethoven’s Missa solemnis.
As lied singer she regularly cooperates with pianist Gerold Huber with whom she guest performed in Vienna, Berlin, London, at the Heidelberg Spring Festival and the Kissinger Summer Festival. Invited by the Leipzig Gewandhaus the two artists on the occasion of the Mendelsson anniversary in 2010 gave two recitals with newly discovered songs of the celebrated jubilarian. In the field of chamber music she works with András Schiff, the Merel-Quartett, the Vienna Piano-Trio and the Wanderer Trio.
In addition to her concert recordings with Georg Solti, Riccardo Chailly and Herbert Blomstedt for Decca Ruth Ziesak has also recorded The Magic Flute (Decca), Fidelio (Decca), La Clemenza di Tito (Teldec), Der Freischütz (BMG), Hänsel und Gretel and Robert Schumannʼs Genoveva with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (Teldec). Her solo recordings include operatic arias by Mozart with the German Symphony Orchestra Berlin under Marcus Creed (Capriccio) and lieder by Mahler (BMG) as well as a series of recitals for BMG, Naxos and Sony with Ulrich Eisenlohr.
Recent CD recordings with Ruth Ziesak include Mendelssohnʼs Elias and his Lobgesang-Symphony. Following her solo CDs with Liszt songs, with Haydn canzones and songs and songs by Mendelssohn a new CD was released in early 2013 by Phoenix with songs of Mahler and Zemlinsky – all accompanied by Gerold Huber at the piano.
Daniel Behle is one of the most sought-after German lieder singers. In the 2011/12 season the Hamburg native appeared in recital at the Eppaner Liedsommer, at Laeiszhalle in Hamburg, the Cuvilliés Theater and Prince Regent Theater in Munich, the Schwetzingen Festival and the Schubertiade. His appearance at the Cologne Philharmonie in May 2012 was greeted with enthusiasm when he stepped in at short notice, performing songs by Beethoven, Grieg, Schubert and Strauss with pianist Oliver Schnyder.
In June 2013 Daniel Behle made his recital debut at Wigmore Hall (Die schöne Müllerin, accompanied by Sveinung Bjelland). Further highlights of the 2012/13 season included concerts with the Saxon Staatskapelle Dresden under Christian Thielemann (Mozart’s Requiem), Mozart concert arias with the Bavarian Radio Chamber Orchestra, Schubert’s Winterreise in the arrangement for orchestra by Hans Zender, as well as recitals at Hamburg’s Laeiszhalle, the Prince Regent Theater in Munich and the Richard Strauss Festival in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
His debut CD with songs by Schubert, Beethoven, Grieg, Britten and Trojahn was selected as one of the 15 best new releases of 2009 by the Metropolitan Opera Guild. Die schöne Müllerin, Dichterliebe and his most recent recording of Richard Strauss songs met with an overwhelming response from music critics: “This thrilling Strauss album makes me want to hear this young German tenor in everything he sings. His light lyric timbre is reminiscent, in its ascents to the stratosphere, of earlier German-speaking tenors (Tauber and Dermota spring to mind). He crowns Cäcilie with a stunning top B... breathtaking work from both singer and pianist.” (The Sunday Times, 6 May 2012). His interpretation of Tamino on René Jacobs’s awarding-winning recording of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte was also highly praised. Artaserse was released by EMI in autumn of 2012.
Daniel Behle is a welcome guest with the Saxon Staatskapelle Dresden, the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, the Gürzenich Orchestra, the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn, the WDR Radio Orchestra, the Capella Augustina, the Kissingen Summer Festival and the Stuttgart Bach Academy. He works with such conductors as Christian Thielemann, Frans Brüggen, Markus Stenz, James Gaffigan, Andreas and Christoph Spering, Sebastian Weigle and Jeffrey Tate.
His concert repertoire includes Bach’s great oratorios, Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem and concert arias for tenor, Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Petite messe solennelle, Dvořák’s Requiem, Haydn’s The Creation and Mendelssohn’s Elijah.
He appears at the leading European opera houses, such as Milan’s La Scala, the Grand Théâtre de Genève, the Vienna Staatsoper, the Frankfurt Opera, Staatsoper Berlin, the Bavarian Staatsoper in Munich, the Hamburg Staatsoper, the Royal Opera in Stockholm and the Opéra National de Paris.
In spring of 2014 he sung Matteo in Strauss’s Arabella for the first time in Salzburg, and in autumn 2014 he will make his debut in the role of Henry Morosus in Strauss’s Die schweigsame Frau at the Bavarian Staatsoper in Munich.
After studying trombone and composition Daniel Behle completed his studies in voice at the University of Music and Theatre in Hamburg with distinction and won first prize at several prestigious vocal competitions. He lives with his family in Basel.
The Polish bass-baritone studied at the end of the 1980s, first in Gdansk with Barbara Iglikowska, then in his adopted home in Florence with great masters of Italian belcanto: Giorgio Favaretto at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Lájos Kozma at the Perugia University and Fedora Barbieri. Later he studied with Claudio Desderi in Fiesole and Rolando Panerai in Florence. Daniel Kotlinski also studied literature and musical history at the University of Florence. He wrote his doctoral thesis on Francesco Paolo Tosti and the Italian “Romanza da Salotto Italiana”.
He sang at festivals such as Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Cantiere Internazionale dʼArte di Montepulciano, Puccini Festival Torre del Lago, Kissinger Sommer and Monte Carlo Festival. He has performed in opera houses in Poland, Germany, France, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and China. In Florence, Naples and Milan he sang Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro and in Barber of Sevilla. He performed Leporello (Don Giovanni) in Rome and Florence, Salieri in Mozart and Salieri and Scarpia in Tosca. He also sang at the Italian world premiere of Moses und Aron with Zubin Mehta. He was Donner in Das Rheingold at the 100th anniversary of the legendary Forest Opera in Sopot, Poland, Raphael in The Creation in Martina Franca, Italy, the bass in the Coronation Mass in Ravenna, Italy, and in the Nelson Mass and Rossiniʼs Petite Messe Solennelle at the Monte Carlo Musique Sacrée Festival.
Besides giving numerous recitals, Daniel Kotlinski worked with the following conductors: Zubin Mehta, Carlo Maria Giulini, Spiros Argiris, Myung Wun Chung, Wojciech Rajski, Jan Latham Koenig, Massimiliano Caldi and Chen Zuohuang. He also worked with the following stage directors: Derek Jarman, Lorenzo Mariani, Jonathan Miller, Liliana Cavani, Jean Pierre Ponnelle and Michael Hampe.
Due to illness he had to give up singing for several years and founded the Syrinx-Kotlinski Management & Productions, an international music production company. Here he worked with musicians such as Domingo, Bruson, Ricciarelli, van Dam, Licitra, Mehta, Maisky, Ashkenazy, Levine and Penderecki and with orchestras such as the Sinfonia Varsovia, Munich Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and Monte Carlo Philharmonic.
Daniel Kotlinski has been a vocal professor for 15 years and is a specialist of the Italian school of belcanto (he became professor by habilitation in 2013). He was the artistic director of the non-profit Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation for young artists and the first general manager and superintendent of the Auditorium al Duomo, the new concert hall built in the heart of Florence.
Daniel Kotlinski gives masterclasses in Italy, Germany, Poland, Russia and America and teaches as a professor at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich, where he gives a Belcanto Seminar. In February 2014 he sang in Parma at the Auditorium del Carmine in recital with the pianist Raffaele Cortesi, he also gave an “Italian masterclass” at the Conservatorio di Musica “Arrigo Boito”. In March 2014 Daniel Kotlinski performed in Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Opéra de Marseille in Le Silo Concert Hall (live broadcast by Radio Classique France), where Maestro Lawrence Foster conducted the Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille and Chorus of Marseille and lʼOpéra de Monte Carlo with the soprano Ricarda Merbeth and the tenor Donald Litaker. Kotlinski will come back to Florence for a recital and masterclass for Firenze Lirica – a prestigious opera society and for the Conservatorio di Musica “Luigi Cherubini”.
His future engagements will include the Lucerne Festival, four concerts at the Twenty-Ninth Kissinger Summer Festival (with Maestro Jiří Bělohlávek and the Czech Philharmonic), three concerts at the Bad Ragaz Festival, an opera gala in Liechtenstein, and concerts at the Dresdner Festspiele, at the Opéra de Marseille and with the Beijing NCPA National Orchestra. Daniel Kotlinski will also sing Dulcamara in LʼElisir dʼAmore by Gaetano Donizetti to be recorded in Munich.
The Prague Philharmonic Choir (PPC) is a leading European vocal ensemble, and as one of the Czech Republic´s foremost artistic institutions operates under the trusteeship of the Czech Ministry of Culture. In the course of the choir´s long history since its foundation in 1935, it has been directed by a succession of some of the most distinguished Czech choirmasters (including among others Jan Kühn, Josef Veselka and Pavel Kühn). Since 2007 its principal choirmaster has been Lukáš Vasilek.
The PPC´s repertoire is centered primarily around oratorio and cantata works. In their presentation, the choir has worked with eminent international orchestras (e.g. the Czech Philharmonic, Berliner Philharmoniker, Israel Philharmonic, St Petersburg Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Dresden or Wiener Symphoniker, among others), and conductors (including Daniel Barenboim, Jiří Bělohlávek, Christoph Eschenbach, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Manfred Honeck, Jakub Hrůša, Tomáš Netopil, Gianandrea Noseda, Philippe Jordan, Fabio Luisi, Zubin Mehta or Sir Simon Rattle). Beyond its standard choral repertoire, the PPC is likewise active in the domain of opera, working regularly with the National Theatre in Prague, and since 2010 holding the status of choir in residence at the opera festival of Bregenz, Austria.
Apart from these commitments, the PPC engages in a number of its own projects. Since 2011 it has organized its own choral concert series in Prague, with a programme focused notably on presentations of less well known choral works, either a cappella or with chamber-scale instrumental accompaniment. The PPC has taken some of these choral projects abroad (including among other occasions its tours in the USA and Mexico in 2014, and in Russia in 2018). The choir regards as an inseparable part of its activity educational endeavours targeting the young generations. In this context, it has been involved in organizing a Choral Academy for students of singing, a project aimed at enabling young artists to acquire practical skills through work with a professional vocal ensemble; and with focus on young children, running a series of educational concerts and a programme of on-the-spot singing workshops in schools.
The PPC has to its credit an extensive discography, with many titles released by major international labels (e.g., Decca Classics, Deutsche Grammophon, Sony Classical and Supraphon). In recent years the choir has taken part in several unique recording projects, two of them in association with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. The first of these, a recording of Antonín Dvořák´s Stabat Mater (Decca, 2017), with Jiří Bělohlávek conducting, received the prestigious Diapason d´or de l´année award for the year´s best album in the sacred music category. The second, a recording of Bohuslav Martinů´s The Epic of Gilgamesh (Supraphon, 2017), under the baton of Manfred Honeck, won several awards in the United Kingdom, plus another Diapason d´or. The album featuring Bohuslav Martinů´s Kytice (Supraphon, 2017), on which the PPC collaborated with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Tomáš Netopil, was cited as recording of the month by the prestigious British web magazine MusicWeb International. Its recording of Bohuslav Martinů´s chamber cantatas (Supraphon, 2016) scored top rankings in the influential British magazines, Gramophone (Editor´s Choice) and BBC Music Magazine (Choral & Song Choice), in the latter along with nomination for its annual award in the choral music category.
The PPC´s many commitments in the 2018/2019 season include among others concert appearances at the Dvořák Prague, Beethovenfest Bonn and Prague Spring festivals, a tour in Belgium, a performance in New York´s Carnegie Hall (Mahler´s Symphony No. 2, with the Czech Philharmonic and its principal conductor, Semyon Bychkov; this will be followed up by the recording of the same symphony for Decca Classics), and further work with the Israel Philharmonic, this time under the baton of Manfred Honeck. The PPC´s 2018/2019 concert season will be rounded off by a concert at the Smetana Litomyšl Festival, where it will perform with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow conducted by Vladimir Fedoseyev Mussorgsky´s opera Boris Godunov; and finally, appearances, for the tenth time already, at the opera festival of Bregenz, Austria.
Lukáš Vasilek, principal conductor of the Prague Philharmonic Choir (PPC), studied conducting at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, and musicology at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. For eleven seasons from 1998 he was conductor of the Foerster Female Chamber Choir, and between 2005 and 2007 was also second choirmaster of the Prague National Theatre´s opera chorus.
He took up his post at the helm of the PPC in 2007. Apart from preparing and conducting the choir´s a cappella concert productions, he has been building up the PPC´s repertoire set for participation in large-scale cantata, oratorio and opera projects, working with leading international conductors (Barenboim, Bělohlávek, Eschenbach, Honeck, Hrůša, Jordan, Luisi, Mehta, Noseda or Rattle, among others) and orchestras (including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Czech Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, St Petersburg Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Dresden or Wiener Symphoniker). Since 2010 the PPC under Vasilek´s direction has guest appeared regularly at the opera festival in Bregenz, Austria.
Lukáš Vasilek is signed under numerous recordings made by the PPC for various major labels, including Decca Classics, Deutsche Grammophon, Sony Classical and Supraphon. In 2016 the last mentioned of these issued an album of Bohuslav Martinů´s cantatas which was nominated for the BBC Music Magazine´s annual award in the choral category, among other plaudits.
In 2010 Lukáš Vasilek formed the Martinů Voices vocal ensemble whose repertoire he has focused primarily on 20th- and 21st-century choral music. He is likewise occasionally active as an orchestra conductor.
Chief Conductor and Artistic Director, Czech Philharmonic
Principal Guest Conductor, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor Laureate, BBC Symphony (London)
Renowned Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek was appointed Music Director and Artistic Director of the Czech Philharmonic in 2012, following on from his successful tenure as Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, of which he is now a Conductor Laureate. He was Chief Conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra (1977–89), Music Director of the Prague Philharmonia (1994–2004), was appointed President of the Prague Spring Festival in 2006. From 2013 to 2017, he was Principal Guest Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
In opera, he has collaborated with the Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opéra National de Paris, the Teatro Real Madrid, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Zurich Opera, and the National Theatre in Prague. He has also conducted and recorded several opera-in-concert presentations with the BBC Symphony, to great acclaim. Confirming his preeminence as the conductor of Janacek, this past season he conducted the Czech Phil in a concert presentation of Jenůfa at the London Royal Festival Hall, as well as in full production the San Francisco Opera. This was followed by a performance of Janacek The Makropulos Case with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms.
Under his leadership the Czech Philharmonic is enjoying unprecedented success both at home in Prague, and on extensive tours. Together they have toured in the past three seasons on three continents, including Europe, Asia and North America. Their recent residency in Vienna at the Musikverein was a great success, and has lead to similar events being planned in other world capitals. The Czech Philharmonic announced in January 2017 that their partnership with Maestro Bělohlávek is now officially extended to 2022!
In addition to his ongoing Prague seasons and touring engagements with the Czech, he continues to perform as a guest conductor with the world’s major orchestras, including recent appearances with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (including at the London Proms), New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Washington National Symphony, and Deutsches Symphony Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Vienna Symphony Orchestra. In the coming season, in addition to major projects with Czech Phil, he looks forward to engagements with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra Munich, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, St Petersburg Philharmonic, and more.
With the Czech Philharmonic, he will conduct a major Asian tour in Autumn 2017 with concerts in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, in addition to appearances on tour in Europe, the highlight of which will be a performance of Janáček Glagolitic Mass at the Salzburg Festival in August 2018.
Jiří Bělohlávek has recorded extensively, with recent projects with the Czech Philharmonic including the complete symphonies and concertos of Dvořák. The series with Decca continues in the coming season, when a major disc of Suk will be recorded.
In 2012 he was awarded an honorary CBE for his services to British music.
Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) was on a sojourn in London in the years 1791–1792. Biographical anecdotes tell about his overwhelming experience when in late May he visited Westminster Abbey in London and heard Handel’s Messiah performed by a massive ensemble. Contemporary researchers have questioned whether it was this particular Handel celebration which moved Haydn to compose an oratorio. At any rate, Haydn had already encountered the music by this great Baroque master in Vienna, where thanks to Baron Gottfried van Swieten music from earlier times was heard as well (for example, Swieten commissioned Mozart to orchestrate Messiah).
While still in London, Haydn received an English poem (allegedly written by a certain Lidley or Lindley) from the impresario Johann Peter Salomon, which he took home with him. It was based on the Bible and Milton’s Paradise Lost. The history of this libretto is somewhat complicated: Haydn, who liked the idea and wanted to set it to music, turned the English text to van Swieten – the problem was that the original text would represent more than four hours of music. Swieten recast the English libretto in a German translation which Haydn could use for his composition. Haydn later adapted the text for a performance in English. However, Salomon claimed copyright of the libretto, and although he dropped the charges later, the planned London premiere in 1800 was delayed and Salomon was taken over by his young competitor, John Ashley.
Back to Vienna: Joseph Haydn worked on the score from 1796 to 1798 to the point of exhaustion. As he later remarked, he was never so devout as when he was at work on The Creation.
At the end of April 1798 a private performance took place for a selected Viennese society. The former correspondent of Neuen teutschen Merkur, who wrote about this concert, was most impressed by Haydn’s ability to evoke the power of natural phenomena such as storm, thunder, light, sun as well birds and other celestial beings.
The Creation was first publicly performed by large forces – 120 instrumentalists and 60 singers – a year later in Vienna’s Burgtheater, sold out far in advance. The performance was a great success and one audience member described the oratorio as a “masterpiece of a new musical era”.
The three-part oratorio depicts and celebrates the creation of the world in six days, as told by three archangels. Haydn has involved solo singers in the interaction with the chorus. He has apparently strived for a powerful sound – during the time between its “trial” performance and premiere he has added several instruments. The Creation is scored for three solo voices, a four-voice chorus and a large late Classicist orchestra (three flutes, duplicated oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets, three trombones, bassoon, timpani and the strings as usual). The basso continuo part is played by harpsichord. It accompanies not only recitatives, but also arias and choruses. Today, the harpsichord is often replaced by hammerclavier (early fortepiano), but this does not correspond to the contemporary Viennese practice.
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