Thomas Larcher’s acclaimed first opera The Hunting Gun receives its UK premiere and pianist
Paul Lewis gives world premiere of Larcher’s Aldeburgh Festival commission
Mark Padmore explores the relationship between words and music with leading poets
Barbara Hannigan conducts Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress
The 72nd Aldeburgh Festival takes place 7-23 June 2019 and features three Artists in Residence – composer Thomas Larcher, tenor Mark Padmore and soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan – who have each curated parts of the Festival. Thomas Larcher’s opera The Hunting Gun receives its UK premiere and opens the Festival. Mark Padmore explores the relationship between poetry and music and Barbara Hannigan conducts singers from her Equilibrium Young Artist programme in a performance of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, an opera in which she sang one of her first major roles.
Thomas Larcher’s first opera The Hunting Gun received great acclaim at its world premiere at the 2018 Bregenz Festival. The Hunting Gun receives its UK premiere on 7 June, opening Aldeburgh Festival 2019 with three performances across the first weekend. With a libretto by Friederike Gösweiner and directed by Austrian actor and film director Karl Markovics, the story is based on Yasushi Inoue’s best-selling 1945 Japanese novella. A poet passes a hunter while climbing a mountain and publishes a poem about the hunter’s lonely, haunted countenance. The Hunter happens to read the poem and recognise himself in it. He sends the author three letters: from his wife, his lover and her daughter. Three letters, by three women to one man, become a gripping fable retold in language of stark poetic simplicity as the central figure helplessly observes the unfolding tragedy, all the while clasping his gun that ‘presses the whole burden deep into the lonely man’s body and soul.’ The cast includes tenor Sam Boden as Dichter (Narrator), baritone Peter Schöne (Josuke), soprano Sarah Aristidou (Shoko), soprano Giulia Peri (Midori) and mezzo-soprano Olivia Vermeulen (Saiko), under the baton of Ryan Wigglesworth.
Larcher’s residency also features the composer’s four string quartets performed by the Albion Quartet (Cold Farmer, 11 June), the Ardeo Quartet (IXXU,13 June), the Heath Quartet (Madhares, 15 June) and Quatuor Diotima (Lucid Dreams, 20 June). Larcher’s music is heard throughout the Festival, with pianist Paul Lewis giving the world premiere of the composer’s Aldeburgh Festival commission on 8 June; the orchestral work Red and Green is performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra on 15 June; and as part of the closing concert of the Festival on 23 June, cellist Alisa Weilerstein joins the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and conductor Edward Gardner for a performance of Ourobros for cello and orchestra.
Tenor Mark Padmore believes that musicians and audiences can gain a richer experience of songs and opera by thinking more closely about the words they set. Over the course of four Poetry & Music events, writer, broadcaster and performer Dr Kate Kennedy is joined by leading poets to discuss the texts set by Britten in his song cycles Winter Words (Thomas Hardy), The Holy Sonnets of John Donne, Songs and Proverbs of William Blake, and Who are These Children? (William Soutar). The discussions are followed by performances from Padmore, Roderick Williams and pianist Andrew West.
Padmore’s residency also includes a recital of Thomas Larcher’s A Padmore Cycle, accompanied by the composer on 9 June. On 13 June, Padmore is joined by baritone Roderick Williams, pianist Julius Drake and actor (to be announced) for an evening of spoken word and songs evoking the sea as captured by Britten, Coleridge, Elgar, Eliot, Fauré, Shakespeare and Tippett, among others. On 17 June, Padmore and Williams recreate a special event which took place in 1828: the only known concert with an all-Schubert programme to have taken place during the composer’s lifetime.
As part of Aldeburgh Festival’s collaboration with the Ojai Festival in California where she is the 2019 Festival Music Director, soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan curates concerts in the final four days, performing three events with the Ludwig Orchestra from the Netherlands. On 20 June, Hannigan returns to one of her first major operatic roles, Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, but this time as conductor rather than singer. It will be the first opera production to feature Hannigan as conductor and she has hand-picked the cast from her Equilibrium Young Artist programme. They are joined by the Ludwig Orchestra and the Chorus of Opera Holland Park. On 21 June Hannigan conducts Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht and sings Grisey’s Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil. On 22 June, she conducts Stravinsky’s Pulcinella and Haydn’s Symphony No.49 before directing and singing Gershwin’s Suite from Girl Crazy.
Aldeburgh Festival 2019 will be announced on Thursday 20 December.