Birthday Wishes from the Best in Baden-Baden

The Festival Hall Baden-Baden is turning twenty and will be presenting its audience with the very finest classical artists and timeless masterworks for its 2017/2018 anniversary year.

Only the best for this birthday celebration: the Festival Hall Baden-Baden’s anniversary season 2017/2018 will be more star-studded than ever, with Anna Netrebko, Cecilia Bartoli, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Sol Gabetta, Jonas Kaufmann, Elīna Garanča, Sir Simon Rattle, Christian Thielemann, and Valery Gergiev only a few among the artists invited by Artistic Director Andreas Mölich-Zebhauser for the 2017/2018 season. “I’m delighted that the finest artists of our time have accepted the invitation to Baden-Baden in order to ensure an anniversary season of this caliber,” noted Mölich-Zebhauser, who has also served for twenty years as Artistic Director of Germany’s largest opera house, which opened its doors on April 18, 1998.

And for Mölich-Zebhauser, it is just as important that the concert hall remain accessible, allowing as many music lovers as possible to experience this world-class program. “With ticket prices starting at nine euros for concerts and around thirty euros for operas, this is not an elitist venue, though it is certainly exceptional,” the director added, who has not only invited leading stars, but has designed an extensive children’s and young people’s program and also recognizes the importance of promoting young artists. All of this is made possible by the Festival Hall’s committed private sponsors.

“I never tire of praising the Baden-Baden model,” Mölich-Zebhauser says. “Public funding provides for the building, while private supporters make possible both the top-quality program and moderate ticket prices.”

Timeless relevance

 “For me it is important, first and foremost, to permit the finest interpreters of our time to offer new insight into classical music’s timeless masterpieces,” as Mölich-Zebhauser explains his guiding principle. “Baden-Baden makes this promise, and also fulfills it,” adds the Artistic Director with reference to the illustrious list of guests for the coming season. “I take exception to the view that every newly-written work is necessarily more important than older masterpieces, as we can often hear. New music plays an important role for me, including in my own life, but it needs to make sense within a program and convince me in context. It shouldn’t be just about doing our duty. The great masterworks of the last 400 years have already stood the test of time, and if out of intellectual hubris, they are declared unimportant because they are too popular, our great musical culture may soon be lost. This also ties in with my credo that opera and concerts need to move me emotionally, and not merely titillate my intellect.”

As in previous years, the 2017/2018 season will be showcasing many highlights from the field of entertainment: pop minstrel (and Baden native) Max Mutzke will be meeting baritone Thomas Quasthoff, and jazz pope Dieter Ilg joins with Götz Alsmann in exploring the music of Ludwig van Beethoven. In addition to the SWR3 New Pop Festival, which has traditionally been held at the Festival Hall, further stars of the pop and entertainment scene will also be featuring on the program. Right before the new season begins, the Festival Hall Baden-Baden will join its event partner BB Promotion in venturing an exceptional experiment: from August 29-31, 2017, the original London production of the musical Cats will be visiting the city on the Oos.

 Opera makes the difference

With the operas La Bohéme, Leonore (Fidelio), Parsifal, Der fliegende Holländer, Die Zauberflöte, and Adriana Lecouvreur, the Festival Hall Baden-Baden will be presenting staged and concert-version performances that offer a mix of popular masterpieces with rare gems of the music theater repertoire. “Opera is what sets Baden-Baden apart from the very finest concert halls in Europe that we compare ourselves to,” comments Mölich-Zebhauser. “When the curtain rises and a fantasy world appears, a special magic enters into play that becomes the calling card of the Festival Hall as a whole.”

The program will be featuring new productions of the operas La Bohéme (music director: Teodor Currentzis, director: Phillipp Himmelmann), Parsifal (music director: Sir Simon Rattle, director: Dieter Dorn), and Adriana Lecouvreur (music director: Valery Gergiev, director: TBA) with Anna Netrebko in the title role. And in concert-version opera performances, we can also look forward to re-experiencing leading conductors like René Jacobs, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and Valery Gergiev with soloists that include Marlis Petersen (Leonore), Bryn Terfel (Fliegender Holländer), and Rolando Villazón (Zauberflöte/Papageno).

Easter Festival to feature Parsifal

The 2018 Easter Festival with the Berliner Philharmoniker will be dedicated to Sir Simon Rattle. With Wagner’s Parsifal, the British conductor will be leading a much-awaited production during his Easter Festival farewell. The cast will include Stephen Gould as Parsifal and Evelyn Herlitzius as Kundry together with Franz-Josef Selig as Gurnemanz and Evgeny Nikitin as Klingsor. The role of Amfortas will be sung by Gerald Finley. For the 2018 Easter Festival’s large-scale symphonic programs, the Festival Hall Baden-Baden and Berliner Philharmoniker will be welcoming such soloists as Elīna Garanča (mezzo-soprano), Krystian Zimerman (piano), and Gerald Finley (baritone). The centerpieces of the Easter concert program will be Stravinsky’s Petrushka Suite, Alban Berg’s Sieben frühe Lieder, Leonard Bernstein’s Second Symphony and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Seventh, Schubert’s orchestral songs, and Richard Strauss’s monumental tone poem Eine Alpensinfonie.

Double delights

 “I’m very pleased that in addition to the large-scale, exclusive festival productions, we will also be welcoming many cherished artists in concerts this coming season,” Mölich-Zebhauser noted. Many of the new season’s programs will be featuring more than one of these well-known artists, like on November 23, 2017, when Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo-soprano) and Sol Gabetta (cello) will be joining for a concert, or on January 27, 2018, when Anne-Sophie Mutter and Sir Antonio Pappano will be making music together.

The 2017/2018 season will be opened by the Wiener Philharmoniker under the direction of Zubin Mehta on October 6, 2017. Throughout the course of the season, other renowned conductors and orchestras will be coming to Baden-Baden, including the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester under Herbert Blomstedt, Budapest Festival Orchestra under Iván Fischer, London Philharmonic Orchestra under Christoph Eschenbach, London Symphony Orchestra under Michael Tilson-Thomas, Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden under Christian Thielemann, and Bamberger Symphoniker under new principal conductor Jakob Hrusa.

Ballets from Nijinsky to Don Quixote

Turning to ballet: the Festival Hall Baden-Baden will be celebrating the coming season with large-scale programs. In October 2017, the Hamburg Ballet will be presenting the two John Neumeier ballets Nijinsky and Das Lied von der Erde. This Christmas 2017, the Mariinsky Ballet will be bringing the ballets Romeo and Juliet, Paquita, and The Nutcracker from St. Petersburg to Baden-Baden. And on New Year’s Eve, there will be dancing on the program at the Festival Hall Baden-Baden for the very first time: an international ballet gala will be ringing out the final hours of the year. In April 2018, the Sao Paulo Dance Company will be presenting Marius Petipa’s ballet Don Quixote with live music.

Ticket sales for the new 2017/2018 season begin on Monday, March 20, 2017. Sponsors of the Festival Hall have already had the opportunity to reserve their preferred seats over the last four weeks.

Photo: Straub