A Babylonian opera by Widmann and Sloterdijk

The new Babylon

Jörg Widmann, Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, Groot Omroepkoor,
Nederlands Kamerkoor

The Israelite exile Tammu and the priestess Inanna declare their love for each other within the walls of Babylon. Tammu is sacrificed, and Inanna descends into the underworld to bring back her lover. Babylon is the second opera by Jörg Widmann, who studied under Wolfgang Rihm. Philosopher Peter Sloterdijk wrote the libretto. The world premiere at the Bavarian State Opera in 2012 was spectacular, thanks to Widmann’s overwhelming music. A concert version is being performed at the NTR Saturday Matinee. The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Choir and the Nederlands Kamerkoor, conducted by Markus Stenz, promise virtuoso vocal scores and a ‘Babylonian’ polyphony of styles and sounds.

Biographies

Jörg Widmann (1973, München) studied composition with Hans-Werner Henze, Kay Westermann, Wilfried Hiller and Wolfgang Rihm. His compositions were performed by Pierre Boulez, Christian Thielemann, Mariss Jansons, Andris Nelsons and Simon Rattle and 

premiered by the Wiener and Berliner Philharmoniker, New York Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris and more.
As its composer in residence Widmann established an artistic collaboration with the Cleveland Orchestra and its Principal Conductor Franz Welser-Möst, including the world premiere of Widmann’s flute concerto, Flûte en suite (2011). His opera Babylon was premiered in 2012/13 at Bayerische Staatsoper under Kent Nagano. Am Anfang by Anselm Kiefer and Jörg Widmann was premiered in 2009 as part of the 20th anniversary of the Opéra Bastille, in which Widmann acted as composer, clarinetist and made his debut as conductor. Widmann has been Artist in Residence at leading Orchestras and Festivals including Lucerne and Heidelberger Frühling, Bamberger Symphoniker, Tonhalle Zürich, Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Frankfurt’s Alte Oper, Cologne’s Philharmonie and New York’s Carnegie Hall. He has won many awards including the prestigious Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Elise L. Stoeger Prize (2009), the Paul Hindemith Prize in 2001, the Arnold Schönberg Prize (2004) and the Berliner Philharmoniker Academy’s Claudio Abbado Composition Award in 2006.

 

Markus Stenz is Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (since 2012) and Principal Guest Conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from the 2015/2016 season onwards. Trained at the School of Music in Cologne and at Tanglewood with Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa, he was Principal Conductor of the London Sinfonietta (1994-1998), Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (1998 – 2004) and General Music Director of the City of Cologne and Gürzenich-Kapellmeister (2003-2014). 

Stenz made his debut as an opera conductor at La Fenice in Venice and has since conducted many world premieres and first performances including Henze’s Das Verratene Meer (Berlin), Venus und Adonis (Munich) and L’Upupa (Salzburg Festival). Markus Stenz has appeared at many of the world’s major opera houses including La Scala (Milan), La Monnaie (Brussels), Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Stuttgart Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Bavarian State Opera Munich, State Opera Hamburg, Frankfurt Opera, and festivals such as Glyndebourne, Edinburgh, Bregenz and Salzburg. 


Markus Stenz conducts many of the world’s leading orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig, Berlin Philharmonic, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and the most prominent German radio orchestras. In the United States, he worked with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. This season Stenz, Fellow of the Royal Northern College of Music, will conduct all over the world, from São Paulo to Shanghai, among others with the German premiere of a Cello Concerto by Pascal Dusapin.

 

The Radio Filharmonisch Orkest (RFO, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra) occupies a prominent position in Dutch music. With an unfailing commitment to artistic excellence and a balanced programme, the one hundred strong orchestra has grown into one of the Netherlands’ best orchestras. The orchestra was formed in 1945 by Albert van Raalte, who was succeeded by an impressive roll call of conductors, including Bernard Haitink, Jean Fournet, Willem van Otterloo, Hans Vonk, Edo de Waart and Jaap van Zweden. In 2012, Markus Stenz was appointed Chief Conductor. Since August 2013, the RFO has been part of the Stichting Omroep Muziek (Music Broadcast Organisation), along with the Groot Omroepkoor (Netherlands Radio Choir) and the production department of Dutch public broadcasters NTR and AVROTROS Radio 4's concert series.

The RFO has worked with many distinguished guest conductors, including Antal Doráti, Riccardo Muti, Mariss Jansons and Valery Gergiev. The orchestra plays contemporary music, often premieres – by composers such as Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez, John Adams, Harrison Birtwistle and Richard Rijnvos – commissioned by broadcast programmes NTR Zaterdagmatinee and AVROTROS Vrijdagconcert. The orchestra performed at the BBC Proms at London's Royal Albert Hall in 2011 and at the Holland Festival in 2015.

From the 1970's, the orchestra has created an impressive discography, publishing their music under various labels. Under Jaap van Zweden, the orchestra have recorded the complete Bruckner cycle, and also committed to CD the complete symphonies of Karl Amadeus Hartmann as well as his opera Simplicius Simplicissimus. With its adventurous programming and large audience reach, the orchestra was awarded the 2014 Edison Klassiek, one of the most prestigious prizes in Dutch classical music, for playing such a vital role at the centre of Dutch music.

 

The sixty strong Netherlands Radio Choir is the largest professional choir in the Netherlands. Since it was formed in 1945, the choir has performed a broad repertoire, ranging from opera choruses, oratorios and cantatas to a cappella concerts.

The choir is closely affiliated to the Dutch public broadcast organisation NPO. The lion's share of their concerts includes the NPO broadcast series NTR ZaterdagMatinee, the AVTOTROS Vrijdagconcert and Het Zondagochtend Concert. The repertoire performed in these series ranges from classical to contemporary music, including commissioned works by Dutch composers such as Wagemans, Visman and Vleggaar, as well as premieres of the works of contemporary foreign composers, including MacMillan, Henze and Adams. The choir's programme also includes 'classics' from twentieth century composers, including Boulez, Stockhausen, Kagel, Ligeti and Messiaen. 
The Netherlands Radio Choir regularly performs with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. The choir has also been frequently invited by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and the Berliner Philharmoniker. The choir's first chief conductor Kenneth Montgomery was succeeded by, in chronological order, Robin Gritton, Martin Wright, Simon Halsey, Celso Antunes and Gijs Leenaars. Since March 2015, Klaas Stok has been Choirmaster. Michael Gläser has been principal guest conductor since 2010.
The choir has recorded an impressive collection of CDs, including recordings of Keuris, Diepenbrock, Mahler, Wagner, Elgar, Rihm, Poulenc, MacMillan and Rachmaninov.

 

The Nederlands Kamerkoor was founded in 1937. Besides their own concert series, the choir often collaborates with renowned ensembles such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Asko|Schönberg, La Fenice and Concert Lorrain. The choir has recorded over 75 CDs, of which multiple have been awarded. From 2015 Peter Dijkstra is chief conductor. Founder Felix de Nobel was its first chief conductor. Uwe Gronostay, Tõnu Kaljuste, Stephen Layton and Risto Joost were his successors. Education and participation are a vital part of the choir’s mission. The Netherlands has thousands of amateur choirs and numbers of youth choirs. The Nederlands Kamerkoor provides coaching, workshops, and ‘adopts’ choirs as supporting act for their own concerts.

More

Credits

music
Jörg Widmann
libretto
Peter Sloterdijk
performing
Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, Groot Omroepkoor, Nederlands Kamerkoor
conductor
Markus Stenz
choral conductor Netherlands Radio Choir
Klaas Stok
choral conductor Nederlands Kamerkoor
Boudewijn Jansen
soprano
Marisol Montalvo (Inanna), Guibee Yang (Die Seele), Gabriele Schnaut (Euphrat)
tenor
Jussi Myllys (Tammu), Steven Ebel (Priester)
bass-bariton
Robert Bork (Priesterkönig/Der Tod)
countertenor
Kai Wessel (Skorpionmensch)
speaking voice
Franz Mazura (Ezechiel)
bass
Simon Duus (Der Schreiber)
production
NTR ZaterdagMatinee

This performance was made possible with support by