Easter Festival 2020

Kirill Petrenko and the Berliner Philharmoniker to present Fidelio and symphonic highlights

Photo that shows Kirill Petrenko C S Rabold Phil 190109. © S. Rabold
© S. Rabold

Beethoven’s anniversary year will set the tone at the 2020 Baden-Baden Easter Festival. In addition to Fidelio, Kirill Petrenko will be conducting the Missa solemnis and Beethoven’s Fifth along with Gustav Mahler’s Sixth Symphony. This year the guest conductors will be Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Tugan Sokhiev, and Herbert Blomstedt.

With three performances on April 4, 7, and 13, Ludwig van Beethoven’s only opera Fidelio will be the focus of the 2020 Baden-Baden Easter Festival with the Berliner Philharmoniker. The orchestra’s new chief conductor, Kirill Petrenko, will serve as music director of the new production of Slovenian director Mateja Koležnik. Together with the opera, the Missa solemnis is the second central work to be featured at the festival during Beethoven’s anniversary year, which will be celebrated in Baden-Baden from April 4–13, 2020.

Kirill Petrenko will be conducting two further concerts at the festival, first presenting Gustav Mahler’s Sixth Symphony in A minor on Monday, April 6, 2020. And members of the Berliner Philharmoniker will be joining the orchestra it has taken under its wing, the National Youth Orchestra of Germany, on Easter Monday, April 13 in a performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in C minor.

Distinguished soloists and guest conductors

Soprano Marlis Petersen – this season’s Artist in Residence with the Berliner Philharmoniker – will be singing the role of Leonore in the new production of Fidelio. Alongside her, American tenor Matthew Polenzani will be featuring as Florestan.

The guest conductors at the 2020 Baden-Baden Easter Festival will be the music director of Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre, Tugan Sokhiev, the music director of New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and the Swedish-American grand old man of the international concert scene, Herbert Blomstedt.

Tugan Sokhiev will be interpreting Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition with the Berliner Philharmoniker on Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020. The evening’s soloist will be Christian Tetzlaff, who will perform Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s Violin Concerto in E minor.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin will be leading a performance of Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony in D minor on Holy Saturday, April 11, 2020. The soloist will be Latvian mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča. On Easter Sunday, Herbert Blomstedt will conduct Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony in E-flat major. Before the symphony, Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes will interpret Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat major.

Beethoven’s complete string quartets

During the Baden-Baden Easter Festival, members of the Berliner Philharmoniker will be performing Beethoven’s complete string quartets as part of a festival for the first time, the members of the orchestra even founding new ensembles for the purpose.

Worldwide attention – spotlight on freedom in Europe

“The first Baden-Baden Easter Festival with chief conductor Kirill Petrenko will be the focus of international attention,” says Benedikt Stampa, who is Artistic Director of the Festival Hall and the Baden-Baden Festival starting with this season.

With the collaboration between Kirill Petrenko and theater director Mateja Koležnik, he hopes to send a clear signal during Beethoven’s anniversary year 2020: “Beethoven stands not only for achieving and celebrating freedom, but also for doubt and failure,” says Benedikt Stampa, who has found an artist “who offers a fresh look at Beethoven” in the Nestroy Award-winner Mateja Koležnik. This Fidelio will be her first operatic staging, though her theater productions in Stuttgart, Munich, and Vienna also give a choreographed impression and are characterized by their musical approach.

For Artistic Director Benedikt Stampa, Mateja Koležnik is the right Fidelio director for our time: “I feel that in Beethoven’s anniversary year, it is important for us to relate the question of freedom to ourselves personally and to our immediate social environment,” says the Baden-Baden Artistic Director.

The director sees her theater background as an enrichment for the opera: “I don’t know the extent to which, as a newcomer, as a director coming from the theater, I can contribute to a different, perhaps more modern approach to opera directing. As a director, I have always been interested in the story that is told by a play. In this respect, I don’t distinguish between opera and theater – the protagonists always weave a story that has to seem logical and relevant to me at every moment, whether it’s Ibsen or Beethoven.”

Schools to be included in the festival

The Theater Baden-Baden will feature the second opera of the Easter Festival, Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s Simplicius Simplicissimus, composed in 1948 to a libretto based on the Baroque novel of the same name. The author Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen lived and died (1622–1676) near Baden-Baden in Renchen. With his Simplicius, penned shortly after the Thirty Years’ War, he offered an early and detailed vision of a society traumatized by war.

The opera will be the focus of a regional school project involving a cooperation between members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Theater Baden-Baden, and the Festival Hall Baden-Baden. Students will be given the opportunity to watch the rehearsal process up-close and develop their own creative ideas relating to the theme of the opera. The new production of this opera will be led by Eva-Maria Höckmayr and will receive further performances after the festival as part of the Theater’s repertoire.