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Daniel Barenboim's Met Debut Conducting 'TRISTAN UND ISOLDE'

Daniel Barenboim Makes his Met Debut conducting 'Tristan und Isolde' on November 28

Katarina Dalayman and Peter Seiffert sing the title roles for the first time at the Met, and René Pape reprises his acclaimed portrayal of King Marke

On December 14, Barenboim plays the first solo piano recital at the Met since Horowitz's legendary performance, featuring Liszt opera transcriptions

Renowned maestro Daniel Barenboim conducts at the Metropolitan Opera for the first time in his illustrious career on November 28, leading an acclaimed cast in Wagner's master opus of transcendent love, Tristan und Isolde. Singing the title roles for the first time with the company are Swedish soprano Katarina Dalayman and German heldentenor Peter Seiffert. The opening night cast also includes German bass René Pape as King Marke, reprising one of his most admired portrayals; American mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung as Brangäne; and, in his Met debut, German bass-baritone Gerd Grochowski as Kurwenal. Korean bass Kwangchul Youn portrays King Marke in later performances. At all performances, Stephen Gaertner is Melot and Matthew Plenk the Sailor's Voice. This 1999 production by Dieter Dorn continues through December 20.

On Sunday, December 14 at 7:00 p.m., Barenboim, one of the world's great pianists, will play the first solo piano recital on the Met stage since Vladimir Horowitz's legendary performance in 1986. The program consists entirely of works by Franz Liszt: from the "Années de pèlerinage, Deuxième Année: Italie," he plays the three Petrarch sonnets, and "Après une lecture de Dante." Also in the first half of the program is "St. François d'Assise - La predication aux oiseaux" from "Légendes." Following intermission, he performs the virtuosic Paraphrases on three operas by Giuseppe Verdi: Il Trovatore, Aida, and Rigoletto.

On November 23, Barenboim joins Met Music Director James Levine and four members of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program—Lisette Oropesa, Sasha Cooke, Matthew Plenk, and Shenyang—at the season's second MET Chamber Ensemble concert in Weill Hall. He and Levine will play four-hand piano pieces, Schubert's Sonata in C "Grand Duo," and Brahms's Liebeslieder and Neues Liebeslieder Waltzes, accompanying the quartet of young singers.

Throughout a remarkable international career spanning more than five decades, Daniel Barenboim has established himself as one the finest concert pianists, conductors, and chamber musicians in the world today. Maestro Barenboim made his conducting debut in London with the New Philharmonia Orchestra in 1967, and from 1975 to 1989 he was the Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris. In 1991 he succeeded Sir Georg Solti as Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for 15 years. Opera has figured prominently in his career: Barenboim made his conducting debut in 1973 with a performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Edinburgh International Festival, and in 1981 he made his debut at the Bayreuth Festival, where he has conducted Tristan und Isolde, the Ring cycle, Parsifal, and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. In 1992 he became General Music Director of the Berlin State Opera. He was named "Maestro Scaligero" at La Scala in 2006, where he conducted Patrice Chéreau's new production of Tristan und Isolde in December 2007. Barenboim maintains an active schedule of performances, appearing in recitals and with orchestras worldwide. This season, Carnegie Hall has selected him for his second Perspectives series. Daniel Barenboim has published his autobiography A Life in Music, and Parallels and Paradoxes, which he wrote together with Edward Said. Music Quickens Time, his book arguing for the urgent value of music in this present day, is being published this month in the United States by Verso Books.
Katarina Dalayman, who made her Met debut as Brangäne in 1999, has since appeared as the Duchess of Parma in the Met premiere of Busoni's Doktor Faust, as well as Lisa in The Queen of Spades and Marie in Wozzeck. She has sung Isolde at the Berlin State Opera, most recently under the baton of Maestro Barenboim in September 2008. Other notable engagements include Marie in Stuttgart and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Kundry in Parsifal at the Paris Opera, Sieglinde at Covent Garden, and Brünnhilde in the Stockholm Ring cycle and at Aix-en-Provence, the latter a role she will sing at the Easter Festival in Salzburg in 2009 and 2010.

            When Peter Seiffert made his 2004 Met debut in the title role of Wagner's Tannhäuser, the New York Times reported that he "has plenty of Wagnerian power and, rarer, a true tenorial cast to his sound." He has recorded the role with Maestro Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin, a recording which received the Grammy Award in 2003. In 1996 he made his debut as Walther in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Bayreuth Festival and has since appeared there as Lohengrin in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2005. His Tristan has previously bowed at the Vienna State Opera and the Berlin State Opera.

            Michelle DeYoung was Brangäne in last year's performances of Tristan und Isolde (part of The Met: Live in HD series). She is an alumna of the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. Among the many roles she has sung here are Venus in Wagner's Tannhäuser, the Shaman in the 2006 world premiere of Tan Dun's The First Emperor (also seen as part of Live in HD), and Fricka in Wagner's Die Walküre.

            In his Met debut as Kurwenal, baritone Gerd Grochowski reprises a role he has previously sung at La Scala, the Berlin State Opera, and the Frankfurt Opera. In recent seasons, he has portrayed Scarpia in Tosca at the Bavarian State Opera, Shiskov in Patrice Chéreau's production of Janáček's From the House of the Dead at the Aix-en-Provence and Holland festivals as well as during the Vienna Festival Weeks, and Orest in Elektra at the Netherlands Opera. In other Wagner repertoire, he has sung Wotan (Das Rheingold and Die Walküre) and the Wanderer (Siegfried) with the Bruckner Orchestra in Linz, and is scheduled to sing Telramund in Lohengrin during the 2008-09 season with the Berlin State Opera.

René Pape, the original King Marke when the current production premiered in 1999, reprises the role for performances on November 28 and December 2. Later this season, he returns to the Met as Fasolt in Das Rheingold and Hunding in Die Walküre. Pape has appeared at the Met every season since his house debut in 1995, more than 130 performances in roles as diverse as Méphistophélès in Faust, Gurnemanz in Parsifal, King Philip in Don Carlo, and Sarastro in The Magic Flute (the inaugural transmission in The Met: Live in HD series). Last season, he added the role of Banquo in Verdi's Macbeth and sang in an all-Mussorgsky program with the MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall under the baton of Valery Gergiev.

            This season at the Met, bass Kwangchul Youn will be heard as King Marke in Tristan und Isolde, the Commendatore in Don Giovanni, and Ferrando in Il Trovatore. He has performed several roles here since his 2004 company debut as Sarastro in the premiere of Julie Taymor's production of Die Zauberflöte, including Hermann in Tannhäuser, Ramfis in Aida, and the Old Hebrew in Samson et Dalila.

 Barenboim Piano Recital on December 14

Reviewing Barenboim's 2002 London recital that included the same excerpts from the Années de Pèlerinage as he plays on the program at the Met, The Guardian said: "It was inspired programming to put together the three Petrarch sonnet-derived pieces, along with the so-called Dante sonata from the Italian book of the Années de Pèlerinage. These were originally a virtuoso's compositions, but the ageing Liszt constantly refined and deepened them into some of the most profound meditations in keyboard literature… Barenboim responded to them in just the same way. There was, of course, plenty of fiendish digital difficulty, thrown off with appropriate panache, especially in the dramatic Dante-inspired piece. But it was the solemn, spacious, even Arrau-like spirit in which Barenboim approached the Petrarch pieces that will provide the most lasting memory of a rewarding recital."

            Barenboim recently talked about the second part of the recital program in which he plays the Paraphrases on Verdi operas:

I play two such programs, both with the music of Liszt, one around Wagner, one around Verdi. I've played both of them in many opera houses around Europe, and I'm particularly happy to play this at the Met. It's a great honor to play the first recital since Horowitz, a singular honor. This is a program that really fits much better in an opera house. Liszt was one of the first pan-Europeans. Beethoven was obviously German. Verdi was obviously Italian, and nothing else. But Liszt was born in Hungary, lived for many years in Paris, and spoke mostly French. Then he went on to Weimar, and he ended up in Italy. This program is very much the Italian Liszt, with three opera paraphrases of Verdi: Il Trovatore, Aida, and Rigoletto. They are real Lisztian creations, real paraphrases in the widest sense of the word. The concert-going public does not know these pieces, but the opera-going public knows these pieces very well. – Met Playbill, Dec. 2008


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