UK premiere of Liszt’s melodrama Vor hundert Jahren comes to Poole and London
Actors Jemma Redgrave and Sara Kestelman in leading roles
Dramatic conception by renowned composer and writer Gerard McBurney
Chicago-based projection designer Mike Tutaj creates enchanted forest of light
A Weimar-themed programme featuring the UK premiere of Liszt’s melodrama Vor hundert Jahren opens Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s season, the eleventh with Ukrainian conductor Kirill Karabits at the helm.
Performances will take place at Lighthouse, Poole (2 Oct) and Cadogan Hall, London (4 Oct), with pre-concert talks given by writer and composer Gerard McBurney.
Two popular actors will take the leading roles: Olivier award-winning actor Sara Kestelman, who is best-known to music lovers for her performance as Princess Carolyn in Ken Russell’s 1975 film Lisztomania, performs as Germania; and Jemma Redgrave, whose recent stage credits include Mood Music (Old Vic) and is best known for roles in Doctor Who, Holby City and the film Love and Friendship, will perform the role of Poesie. Students from the BA (Hons) Acting course at Arts University, Bournemouth also feature.
“I’m honoured and excited to be participating in the UK premiere of this unique and intriguing work” – Sara Kestelman
Liszt’s Vor hundert Jahren sits between works by R Strauss and Hummel. All three composers held Kapellmeister roles in Weimar during the 19th-century: Hummel, as Grand Ducal Kapellmeister from 1819-37; Liszt from 1848-58; and R Strauss as second Kapellmeister from 1889-94. Kirill Karabits was General Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Deutsches Nationaltheater and Staatskapelle Weimar from 2016-19.
The work will be performed in English, using a translation by the renowned German Lieder specialist, Richard Stokes.
Internationally renowned composer and writer Gerard McBurney is working with the BSO to realise the dramatic conception of this unpublished work. He described it, “Vor hundert Jahren was composed as part of the pan-Germanic celebrations in 1859 marking the centenary of the birth of Friedrich Schiller. Familiar to music lovers as the author of ‘Ode to Joy’, Schiller was not only a great poet and playwright, but a political philosopher who had a deep influence on the new dream of German Unification. For this melodrama for actors and symphony orchestra, Liszt’s friend and colleague, Friedrich Halm, created a high-flown libretto, in which the tragic character of ‘Germania’, left alone in the mountains, bewails the pitiful state into which the German people and their culture have fallen, before the figure of Poetry appears, to take her on a tour of Schiller’s works, showing how they offer comfort and inspiration for the nation’s future.”
Kirill Karabits, Chief Conductor of the BSO said, “I’ve been looking forward to bringing this unpublished work by Liszt to the BSO after finding the score in Weimar last year, and I can’t think of a better way to open the season.”
Weimar Connections will feature works by Hummel, Liszt and R Strauss and will take place at Lighthouse, Poole (2 Oct) and Cadogan Hall, London (4 Oct).