Puccini’s Tosca has had a special place in the history of the Berliner Philharmoniker ever since Herbert von Karajan conducted the opera to great acclaim in Berlin and Salzburg in the 1980s. And now, after almost 30 years, Tosca is programmed once again – this time at the Easter Festival in Baden-Baden, with Simon Rattle as the conductor. The main roles are sung by Kristīne Opolais, Marcelo Álvarez and Evgeny Nikitin. The director is Philipp Himmelmann.
This Late Night concert with Simon Rattle and Magdalena Kožená is delicate, enigmatic and virtuoso. The concert opens with Ravel’s gently flowing songs based on poems by Stéphane Mallarmé. Vocal artistry is in demand, in contrast, in Berio’s Sequenza III. The main work on this evening is Berio’s spherical Laborintus II for voices, instruments and tape.
The Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar was one of the great musical intermediaries between East and West. His work Raga-Mālā links the art of sitar improvisation with the performed playing of a classical concert: an exciting journey into a faraway world. The soloist in this performance is the composer’s daughter Anoushka Shankar; the conductor is Zubin Mehta, who was his friend for many years. Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra concludes the evening.
Béla Bartók’s Third Piano Concerto is one of the most touching of the 20th century. The gravely ill composer found his way to a tone for which he had not previously been known: more melodic, softer, almost religious. András Schiff, a favourite of the Berlin audience and closely bound to Bartók through his shared Hungarian origin, will interpret the work with Herbert Blomstedt, who will conduct Johannes Brahms’s First Symphony after the interval.