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The Mahler Chamber Orchestra performs Wozzeck under the direction of Daniel Harding at the Wiener Festwochen

05-10-2010 10:12 AM CET | Arts & Culture

Press release from: Mahler Chamber Orchestra e.V.

At the beginning of May, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO) travels to Vienna to start rehearsals on Alban Berg’s first operatic work Wozzeck as part of the Wiener Festwochen 2010. Musical direction is in the hands of Principal Conductor Daniel Harding, and the production is staged by Stepháne Braunschweig. The main roles will be sung by Georg Nigl and Angela Denoke.

The orchestra has been a regular guest at the Festwochen since 2002, with operas including the highly successful production of Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and Leoš Janácek’s From the House of the Dead. This year’s musical programming places emphasis on the work of Alban Berg, for whom the year 2010 marks two milestones: the 125th anniversary of his birth and the 75th anniversary of his death. The theme of this year’s Festwochen is formulated in questions: “Alles anders?” (“Everything different?”) is the question posed by festival director Luc Bondy, and “Alles neu?” (“Everything new?”) is particularly directed toward Alban Berg, who was one of the most significant representatives of the New Viennese School in the twentieth century.

Berg’s Wozzeck is a meaningful work for the MCO. The work was on the program at the opera festival in Aix-en-Provence in 2003, but after getting as far as the dress rehearsal the production fell victim to the French stage artist and technician strike that year. With Daniel Harding on the podium and Stéphane Braunschweig directing, the same artistic team was responsible for the production back then in Aix-en-Provence as this year in Vienna.

With his musical setting of Georg Büchner’s drama fragment Woyzeck, Alban Berg set a milestone in the history of opera and created one of the groundbreaking works of the 20th century. In 1914, on the eve of World War I, the Austrian composer was inspired by a theatrical production of Woyzeck, which is in turn based on a historical incident: in 1821, the son of a wig-maker stabbed his lover out of jealousy. After a long criminal process with several legal documents assessing his sanity, he was, despite legal doubts, sentenced to death and hanged on Leipzig’s market square in 1824. Deeply affected by the catastrophic example set by “Wozzeck”, Alban Berg created a multi-layered expressionistic drama of the soul.

In addition to the opera performances, the Wiener Festwochen have also created a concert series with the title „Ein Fest für Alban Berg“ (A Celebration for Alban Berg), which includes a concert by a soloist ensemble of MCO musicians on 20 May at 19:30 at the Arnold Schönberg Center with works of Berg, Schönberg and Mahler.

On 18 May, the orchestra will travel with Daniel Harding and soloist Angela Denoke on a short visit to Milano. The MCO returns to Milan’s Scala for the first time in 5 years and presents a concert program there with Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, excerpts from Berg’s Wozzeck, and Mahler’s Symphony no. 1.

The Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO), with its unusual structure, internationality and outstanding quality, is an ensemble unique to the present time. Its organisation and method of operation make it a model for the future of the European orchestral landscape. Composed of around 40 musicians from 20 different nations, and independent of external sponsorship, the MCO plays operas and concerts all over the world, in cities as well as at exclusive festivals from the North Pole to the Red Sea. The orchestra was founded in 1997 by the musicians themselves and Claudio Abbado, and the two have been reaching milestones of European musical life together ever since.

Merit Vareschi
Communications Manager
Mahler Chamber Orchestra e.V.
Hasenheide 54 / D-10967 Berlin
Phone + 49.30.41 71 79-21
Fax +49.30.41 71 79-29
Mobile +49.160.90 96 91 03

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