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Since the beggining of the 2012/2013 season, Christian Thielemann has been the Principle Conductor of the Sächsische Staatskapelle in Dresden. After his highly acclaimed inaugural concerts, the FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) stated that he led the Staatskapelle to the “height of their glorious sound”.
His professional career began in 1978 as an accompanist at the Deutschen Oper Berlin. After working in Gelsenkirchen, Karlsruhe and Hannover, in 1985 he joined the Office of the First Kapellmeister at the Düsseldorf Rhein opera before becoming the youngest general music director in Germany in Nuremberg in 1988. In 1997 he returned to the same position for seven years at the German Opera Berlin, and from 2004 to 2011, he served as musical director of the Munich Philharmonic.
His interpretations of German Romantic opera and concert repertoire are used worldwide as examples. Since his Bayreuth debut in 2000, he has shaped the festival with his standard-setting conducting. For his direction of Strauss’ Die Frau Ohne Schatten, he was named “Conductor of the Year” by “Opera World”. His Brahms cycle with the Staatskapelle is available on CD and DVD, and with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, he recorded all the Beethoven symphonies.
Since 2013, Christian Thielemann is the artistic director of the Salzburg Easter Festival. He is an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London, and also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Music Franz Liszt in Weimar and the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium).
After his studies at the Musikhochschule in Vienna, where he studied among others under Walter Berry, Adrian Eröd’s career went from the Wiener Kammeroper over the Landestheater in Linz to the Wiener Volksoper and finally the Wiener Staatsoper, which would play a central role alongside his international engagements to his artistic future. Since his debut in 2001 at the Wiener Staatsoper as Mercutio inRoméo et Juliette, Adrian Eröd has sung works like Guglielmo, Beckmesser, Loge, Conte d’Almaviva, Figaro (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Dr. Falke, Albert, the leading role in Benjamin Brittens Billy Budd, Olivier (Capriccio) and the male leading role- which was written for him – Jason in Aribert Reimanns Medea. He has also sung, among others at the Teatro La Fenice in Venedig (Harlekin), an der Hamburgischen Staatsoper (Pelléas), an der Oper Frankfurt (Prospero in Adès’ The Tempest), bei den Bayreuther Festspielen und an der Oper Zürich (Beckmesser). Finally, he has sung e.g. at the Tokyo National Opera, the Opéra de Paris and at the Bayreuther Festspielen.
Roles for the Wiener Staatsoper 2014/2015: Prospero, Eisenstein.
JANINA BAECHLE studied musicology, history and vocal studies in Hamburg. After her stage debut in Hamburg, engagements lead her to the State Theatres Braunschweig and Hannover. In the season 2004/2005 she became a member of the Vienna State Opera and sang Mrs. Quickly (Falstaff), Herodias (Salome), Erda, Fricka, Waltraute (Ring des Nibelungen), Brangäne (Tristan und Isolde), Ulrica (Un ballo in maschera), Ortrud (Lohengrin), Brigitta (Tote Stadt), Annina (Rosenkavalier), Margret (Wozzeck), Mary (Fliegender Holländer), Marquise de Berkenfield (Fille du Régiment), to only name a few. Guest appearances lead her to San Franciso, the Semper Opera Dresden, the Stuttgart State Opera, the Hamburg State Opera, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, the Théâtre du Capitole as well as the Festival Theatre Baden-Baden and to the Edinburgh Festival. Current parts are Ježibaba (Rusalka) and Ortrud at the Bavarian State Opera, the leading role in the world premiere of Bruno Mantovani´s opera Akhmatova and as Brangäne at the Opéra National de Paris, as well as nurse (Frau ohne Schatten) at the Gran Teatre del Liceu.
ILEANA TONCA was born in Rumania and studied at the Music Academy in Bucharest. She has won several singing competitions and has performed in Bucharest, Brasov and Timisoara as well as on tours in Germany, Austria, Italy and France. She has been a member of the ensemble of the Wiener Staatsoper since 1999, where she debuted as Jemmy (Guillaume Tell). Furthermore, she has for example sung Woglinde (Das Rheingold, Götterdämmerung), Waldvogel (Siegfried), Echo (Ariadne auf Naxos), Lisa (La sonnambula), Xenia (Boris Godunow), Mädchen (Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny), Elvira (L’italiana in Algeri), Nannetta (Falstaff), Barbarina (Nozze di Figaro), Oscar, Papagena, Zerlina, Sophie (Rosenkavalier, Werther), Stimme vom Himmel and Tebaldo (Don Carlo), Zdenka (Arabella), Adele (Fledermaus), Servilia, Musetta, Adina, Susanna. Furthermore, she performed in productions of children´s operas (Traumfresserchen, Peter Pan, Bastien und Bastienne, 35. Mai, Pinocchio, Pünktchen und Anton). In 1999/2000 she was awarded an advancement award by the Waechter Medal Foundation. In 2004 she received the Austrian frauen.kunst.preis.
The soprano ANNIKA GERHARDS completed her vocal studies at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt am Main and completed her studies in masterclasses among others under KS Brigitte Fassbaender, Klesie Kelly-Moog, Helen Donath and Eva Marton. She is a prizewinner of several different competitions, like for example the Bruno Fry-Musikpreises and the Bundeswettbewerbs Gesang. Furthermore, she was awarded the Händel-prize from the city of Karlsruhe several times, and in 2013 won the first prize in the competiton . “Das Lied”. Until now, Annika Gerhards has sung roles such as Zaide, Valencienne and Frasquita, and was a guest at the Staatstheater Darmstadt, at the Händel-Festspielen Karlsruhe and at the Rheingau Musik Festival. In December 2014, she will sing under Jonathan Nott in Mahler‘s 8th Symphony in Japan. Since the 2013/2014 season, Annika Gerhards is an ensemble member of the Wiener Staatsoper where she gave her debut as Giannetta in Gaetano Donizettis L‘elisir d’amore.
Michaela Schuster was born in Fürth/Bavaria and studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and at the Hochschule der Künste Berlin. Between 1999 and 2002 she was member of the ensemble of the Staatstheater Darmstadt, where she sang roles like Charlotte in Werther, Giulietta in Contes d’Hoffmann, Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticanaand Carmen. Guest appearances have for example led her to the Staatstheater Stuttgart as Fricka (Rheingold); as Sieglinde (Walküre), Kundry (Parsifal) and Brangäne (Tristan und Isolde) she performed at the Berliner Staatsoper; as Sieglinde and Venus she performed at the Semperoper and at the Teatro Real in Madrid; as Amme (Die Frau ohne Schatten) at the Theatre de la Monnaie, as Marie (Wozzeck), Kundry and Amneris at the Hamburgische Staatsoper; as Laura (La gioconda) at the Deutsche Oper Berlin; as Ortrud (Lohengrin) at the Norske Opera Oslo and as Ortrud and Marie (Wozzeck) at the Bayerische Staatsoper; as Amneris (Aida) in Baden-Baden; as Herodias (Salome) at the Covent Garden in London; as Eboli (Don Carlo) at the Oper Frankfurt, as Ortrud at the Lyric Opera Chicago, as Clairon (Capriccio) at the Opera Paris and as Amme at La Scala. She made her debut at the house on the ring in 2006 as Sieglinde and has also performed as Fricka (Walküre, Rheingold), Venus (Tannhäuser) and Waltraute (Gotterdämmerung) here.
Ouverture London, Christmas circa 1890. A Victorian family gathers happily in the living room around the Christmas tree. The father surprises everyone with a mysterious, new device: a laterna magica, which projects all kinds of unfamiliar and wonderful pictures on the wall and also opens the door to a strange, fairy tale world ... Act 1 Instead of carrying out the chores assigned to them, tormented by hunger the siblings Hansel and Gretel pass the time in the wretched hut that is their home by singing and dancing. They eagerly await the evening and with it the return of their parents, because today there will finally be something to eat before they go to bed: the children hope that their Mother will make a rice pudding using the milk given to them by a neighbour. But when the Mother finally comes home, the mood changes abruptly. Furious that Hansel and Gretel have spent their time playing together rather than making brooms and knitting stockings, she rushes over to the children to give them a beating. In doing so, she accidentally knocks the jug with the milk in it off the table. Hansel’s snickering at her clumsiness, the jug fragments on the floor and the spilled milk cause the Mother to lose her temper, and she sends the children out into the nearby forest to pick strawberries. Left alone, she laments the poverty and hunger her family suffers and drops wearily off to sleep. Awakened by her cheery, somewhat drunken husband, who for once has been able to sell all his brooms and has bought a big supply of various groceries with the proceeds. But their joy is short-lived. Dismayed that his children have been sent out alone, the Father tells his wife about the man-eating Witch who lives in Ilsenstein, a particularly dark and notorious part of the forest. Filled with concern, the parents rush out of the hut to find Hansel and Gretel before nightfall and bring them home. Act 2 While Hansel picks strawberries, filling his basket to the brim, Gretel makes a wreath. Happy that this time they have done as their Mother asked, they become absorbed in all kinds of games and forget to go home on time. To make matters even worse, before they realize what they are doing, the two of them gradually eat all the strawberries they had collected. Horrified, they set out to look for more, but notice full of trepidation that they have got lost in the evening darkness of the forest. The good Sandman then appears and sprinkles sand in their eyes. Huddled together, Hansel and Gretel go to sleep after saying their evening prayers. In a beautiful dream, fourteen angels hover around them, and they have a reassuring sense of death and new life. Act 3 The next morning, Hansel and Gretel are awakened by the Dew Fairy and discover the Witch’s gingerbread house. When Hansel breaks off a piece, the Witch’s voice is heard from within the house. However, since nothing more threatening happens, the children start to nibble at the house, until the Witch emerges. At first she seems to be friendly, but she soon reveals her true colours: she casts a spell on Hansel and Gretel and locks Hansel in a cage, where she plans to fatten him up. In exuberant anticipation of eating the children, the Witch clambers onto her broomstick and for some time flies ecstatically through the air. After her ride, she tries to persuade Gretel to look into the oven. Her plan to push the unsuspecting girl into the oven and bake her into gingerbread does not succeed; warned by her brother, Gretel pretends to be stupid and asks the Witch to show her how to look into the oven. Impatiently, the Witch agrees to Gretel’s request and leans far into the oven. At that moment, Hansel and Gretel push her in, and she perishes miserably. Hardly has the Witch died than the many gingerbread men standing around the house turn into boys and girls. They all fell into the Witch’s trap and were turned into gingerbread in the oven: but now the spell is broken. Hansel and Gretel stroke the children and with the help of the magic wand break the last spell. The grateful children dance joyously around their rescuers. A little later, Hansel and Gretel’s parents find the happy group, having been searching for their children through the night. Grateful and filled with joy they sing together: “When our need is at its greatest, the Lord our God holds out his hand.”