Symphony Concert N° 1

Christian Thielemann Conductor
Hanna-Elisabeth Müller Soprano
Elisabeth Kulman Alto
Piotr Beczala tenor
Georg Zeppenfeld Bass
State Opera Chorus Dresden

Ludwig van Beethoven

  • Symphony No. 8 in F major, Opus 93
  • Symphony No. 9 in d minor, Opus 125


Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle kick off the new season with Beethoven’s Eighth and Ninth Symphonies, thereby concluding their cycle of the composer’s symphonic works, which began two years ago. Rarely performed together in concert, these final symphonies seem to inhabit entirely different worlds. While the Eighth captivates through its unceasing cheerfulness and general restraint, it is all too often overshadowed by its better-known predecessor and successor. In his Ninth, Beethoven not only shatters the traditional symphonic form but also articulates, according to Theodor W. Adorno, an emphatic »message to all of humanity«.

Sendetermin: 22. Oktober 2021 ab 20.05 Uhr bei MDR Kultur & MDR Klassik
  • 03.09.2021
    19:00 Uhr
  • 04.09.2021
    19:00 Uhr
  • 05.09.2021
    11:00 Uhr

Christian Thielemann

Principal Conductor

Since the 2012/2013 season Christian Thielemann has been Principal Conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden. Following engagements at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, in Gelsenkirchen, Karlsruhe, Hanover and Dusseldorf, in 1988 he moved to Nuremberg to occupy the post of Generalmusikdirektor. In 1997 he returned to his hometown of Berlin to direct the Deutsche Oper until 2004, when he became Music Director of the Munich Philharmonic, a post he held until 2011. In addition to his current position in Dresden, Thielemann has been Artistic Director of the Salzburg Easter Festival since 2013, where the Staatskapelle is resident orchestra.

In previous seasons Christian Thielemann has contributed greatly to the birthday celebrations for Wagner, Strauss and Beethoven. At the same time he has explored a wide range of music from Bach to Henze, Rihm and Gubaidulina in Dresden and on tour. In the Semperoper he recently conducted new productions of »Ariadne auf Naxos« and »Capriccio« while for the Salzburg Easter Festival he interpreted »Die Walküre«, »Tosca« and »Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg«.

Christian Thielemann maintains close ties to the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic, whose New Year’s Concert he conducted in 2019. Following his debut at the Bayreuth Festival in 2000, he has

returned every year to thrill audiences with benchmark interpretations. After serving five years as the festival’s Musical Advisor, in June 2015 he became its Music Director. In addition, he has been invited to conduct the leading orchestras of Europe, the United States, Israel and Asia.

As a UNITEL exclusive artist, Christian Thielemann has a comprehensive catalogue of recordings. His most recent projects with the Staatskapelle have been to record the symphonies of Anton Bruckner and Robert Schumann, Arnold Schoenberg’s »Gurre-Lieder« as well as numerous operas. Christian Thielemann is an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London, honorary professor at Dresden’s Carl Maria von Weber College of Music and holds honorary doctorates from the Franz Liszt University of Music in Weimar and the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. In 2003 he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In May 2015 he received the Richard Wagner Prize from the Richard Wagner Society of the city of Leipzig, followed by the Prize from the Semperoper Trust in October 2016. He is patron of the Richard-Wagner-Stätten in Graupa. His recordings have been showered with awards.

Hanna-Elisabeth Müller

Hanna-Elisabeth Müller studied with Rudolf Piernay with whom she still closely collaborates. The multi award winning soprano later fine-tuned her skills in masterclasses with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Julia Varady, Elly Ameling and Thomas Hampson.

In March 2017 she made her debut at the MET in New York as Marzelline in Jürgen Flimm’s Fidelio. In May, she made both a role and house debut at the Scala in Milan as Donna Anna in Robert Carson’s production of Don Giovanni. She returned to the MET, as Pamina, in December 2017, followed by her debut at the Opera Zurich as Ilia in Mozart’s Idomeneo.

In 2014, Hanna-Elisabeth Müller achieved her international breakthrough at the Salzburg Opera Festival with her sensational debut as Zdenka alongside Renée Fleming and Thomas Hampson under the baton of Christian Thielemann and, shortly afterwards, was distinguished by the German magazine »Opernwelt« as Young Artist of the Year. She later resumed the role at the Semperoper Dresden and at the Munich Opera Festival. In Amsterdam, she made her house and role debut as Sophie in a new production of Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier in 2015.

From 2012 to 2016, she was a member of the Bavarian State Opera, where she appeared as Pamina, Zerlina, Susanna, Servilia, Gretel, Zdenka, the Infanta Donna Clara in Zemlinsky’s The Dwarf, Sophie in Massenet’s Werther and Marzelline, amongst others. She made her farewells to the ensemble as much-acclaimed Sophie in Strauss’ Rosenkavalier during the Munich Opera Festival, but remains associated to the house as a guest. In the 2017-2018 season, she accompanied the Bavarian State Orchestra on tours to Japan (Pamina) and the Carnegie Hall New York (Sophie, Rosenkavalier). She returned to Munich as Zdenka in summer 2018.

The versatile singer is a regular guest on the concert stage. Hanna-Elisabeth Müller celebrated the arrival of 2017 in spectacular style, stepping in at the opening concerts of Elbphilharmonie Hamburg with Beethoven’s 9th symphony.
In 2016-2017, she also appeared at the Philharmonie de Paris, Philharmonie Essen, Philharmonie Cologne (with WDR Symphony Orchestra), and the Tonhalle in Düsseldorf.

In the 2017-2018, she performed Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Yannick Nézét-Seguin and Berg’s Sieben frühe Lieder with the Bilbao Orkestra under Erik Nielsen.

With her permanent piano partner Juliane Ruf, she regularly appears at major recital venues such as Heidelberger Frühling, Philharmonie Cologne, deSingel Antwerp and at the Festival RheinVokal.


Elisabeth Kulman

Elisabeth Kulman is one of the most sought-after singers and artists of the international classical music scene. She impresses audiences and critics with her warm, colourful timbre, charisma and creative independence.

She presents her multi-genre music show »La femme c’est moi« at important venues from Vienna to Tokyo. With finesse and a subtle sense of humour Elisabeth Kulman blends different musical styles from opera, classical song and musical to pop, thus forming a coherent unity and showing her virtuoso versatility. An important collaborator not only on this show is the Viennese arranger Tscho Theissing. He also wrote the arrangements of Zarah Leander songs which Elisabeth Kulman performed at the New Year’s Eve Concert 2017 under Christian Thielemann, televised from the Semperoper Dresden by the ZDF broadcasting station. Furthermore both artists developed projects like »Mussorgsky Dis-Covered« with international jazz quartet and »Hungaro Tune« with symphony orchestra and jazz soloists.

Elisabeth Kulman’s dramaturgically conceived and carefully constructed lieder recitals with her long-time pianist Eduard Kutrowatz always receive special praise. Regular appearances at the Schubertiade and other important song festivals as well as several CD recordings testify to their successful collaboration.

After an international career as an opera singer, spanning almost twenty years and covering all the important roles of her repertoire from Gluck to Wagner, Verdi and Weill, Elisabeth Kulman decided in 2015 to shift her focus to concert performances. She is a regular guest with the leading orchestras in the metropolitan centres of the music world and performs her vast repertoire under conductors such as Kirill Petrenko, Christian Thielemann, Simon Rattle, Philippe Jordan, Herbert Blomstedt, Mariss Jansons, Zubin Mehta, Teodor Currentzis and Marek Janowski. She enjoyed a particularly close collaboration with Nikolaus Harnoncourt.

She studied voice with Helena Lazarska at the Vienna Music University, made her debut as Pamina in 2001 at the Volksoper in Vienna and enjoyed early success as a soprano. Since 2005 Elisabeth Kulman has been singing the major roles of the mezzo and alto repertoire. As a member of the ensemble at the Vienna State Opera she quickly became a favourite of the audience. She uses her popularity to campaign for fair conditions in the world of classical music. She is co-founder of the association »art but fair«, managing editor of the YouTube channel »What’s Opera Doc« and initiator of »#voiceit for a culture of dignity«.

Piotr Beczala

Piotr Beczala is one of the most sought-after tenors of our time and a constant guest in the world’s leading opera houses. The Polish-born artist is acclaimed by audiences and critics alike not only for the beauty of his voice, but also for his ardent commitment to each character he portrays. He was born in Czechowice-Dziedzice in Southern Poland and received his initial vocal training at the Katowice Academy of Music, where he was given instruction by such illustrious singers as Pavel Lisitsian and Sena Jurinac.


Since his debut as Duca in Rigoletto in 2006, Piotr Beczala is a regular guest at the Metropolitan Opera New York. In 2011 he accompanied the MET on a tour to Japan.  In the 2015/16 season he was making his highly acclaimed debut in the title role of Wagner´s Lohengrin opposite Anna Netrebko at the Semperoper Dresden.

Piotr Beczala also regularly sings at the State Operas in Munich and in Vienna. On the stage of the National Theatre in Munich, he interpreted the Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier, and the title role of Massenet’s Werther, amongst others. During the Munich Opera Festival, Piotr Beczala was heard as Alfredo in La Traviata. In Vienna he performed Roméo in Jürgen Flimm’s production of Roméo et Juliette, under the baton of Plácido Domingo. Piotr Beczala sang guest performances at the Nederlandse Opera, Théâtre de la Monnaie/de Munt, Staatsoper Hamburg, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Staatsoper Berlin, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Teatr Wielki (Warsaw), and the Mariinsky Theatre, amongst many others.

Since his debut as Tamino in 1997, Piotr Beczala is a regular guest at the Salzburg Festival. In 2013 he was heard in Verdi’s Requiem with the Wiener Philharmoniker and Riccardo Muti conducting.

In addition to his operatic work, he has sung many of the great choral and orchestral vocal works with the world’s most distinguished orchestras and maestri. In 2012 he sang the New Year’s Eve concerts at the Semperoper Dresden under the baton of Christian Thielemann for the second consecutive year.

Three solo aria CDs have been released on the Orfeo label. “Salut”, featuring French and Italian arias (2008), was followed by “Slavic Opera Arias. Opera News declared it #1 on its list of 2011’s “Twelve Best Recital Discs” & it received Classica’s coveted “Choc de l’année 2011”. In 2013 a Verdi album was released. 

Recent DVD releases include the Beethoven Symphony No. 9 with Christian Thielemann leading the Wiener Philharmonics.

Georg Zeppenfeld


Bass Georg Zeppenfeld, born in Westphalia, studied singing at the Cologne University of Music. Engagements have taken him to the great opera houses of Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Vienna, Milan, Paris, Barcelona, Lyon, Antwerp, the Bayreuth Festival, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera New York and San Francisco. In 2002 he made his first guest appearance at the Salzburg Festival, where he sang Sarastro (»The Magic Flute«) under Nikolaus Harnoncourt in 2012, and King Karl in Schubert's »Fierrabras« in 2014. From 2001 to 2005 Georg Zeppenfeld was an ensemble member of the Semperoper Dresden. Here he appeared in roles such as Figaro and Bartolo (»Le nozze di Figaro«), King Filippo II. (»Don Carlo«), Zaccaria (»Nabucco«), Banco (»Macbeth«), Eremit and Kaspar (»Der Freischütz«), König (»Aida«), Sarastro (»The Magic Flute«), Colline (»La bohème«), Alidoro (»La cenerentola«), Fasolt (»Das Rheingold«), Landgrave Hermann (»Tannhäuser«), King Marke (»Tristan and Isolde«), Gharib (»L'Upupa and the Triumph of Son Love«), Aquarius (»Rusalka«), Peneios (»Daphne«), Seneca (»L'incoronazione di Poppea«), Sparafucile (»Rigoletto«), Henry the Bird (»Lohengrin«) and Rocco (»Fidelio«). In 2013 he made his debut as Daland in the new production of »The Flying Dutchman« alongside »Orlando«. In the 2013/14 season he sang the role of Don Alfonso in Andreas Kriegenburg's new production of »Così fan tutte«. Under Cornelius Meister, Georg Zeppenfeld was a guest at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London in 2015 as Sarastro. In 2016 he sang the part of Lodovico in »Otello« at the Salzburg Easter Festival, and in 2017 he will appear there as Hunding in »Die Walküre«.

At the Bayreuth Festival, Georg Zeppenfeld has been a welcome guest since 2010: in the summer of 2017, he sang the part of Hunding in »Die Walküre« and Gurnemanz in »Parsifal« in Bayreuth. In the 2015/16 season Georg Zeppenfeld made his role debut in Dresden as Baculus in the new production of »Der Wildschütz« and also sang the roles of Hunding (»Die Walküre«), Heinrich der Vogler (»Lohengrin«), Sarastro (»Die Zauberflöte«) and Kaspar (»Der Freischütz«). In 2017/18 he could be seen as Raimondo Bidebent in »Lucia di Lammermoor« as well as Fasolt in »Das Rheingold«, Hunding in »Die Walküre« and Fafner in »Siegfried«. In 2018/19 Georg Zeppenfeld interpreted for the first time in Dresden, among others, Arkel in »Pelléas et Mélisande« and Landgrave Hermann in »Tannhäuser«. He is, among others, the winner of the Christel Goltz Prize of the Semperoper Foundation. In October 2015 Georg Zeppenfeld was awarded the honorary title of Kammersänger.

State Opera Chorus Dresden

Had it not been for Carl Maria von Weber, Dresden’s opera chorus would not have been founded, or at least not on October 8, 1817. It was Weber who obtained royal approval for this initiative; after all, it was his artistic mission (and personal ambition) to establish a German opera company alongside the tradition-steeped Italian opera. Besides suggesting other reforms for the staging of opera, he argued that it was now essential to have a regular choir. The choir started to participate in the traditional Palm Sunday concerts as early as 1827. Major landmarks in its history include the performances in 1846, 1847 and 1849 of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony under the later Kapellmeister Richard Wagner, who was forced to flee Dresden shortly after the last-mentioned performance.

Currently comprising 89 singers, the Dresden State Opera Chorus has now become one of Europe’s finest opera choruses and has been acclaimed as such in virtually every premiere review in recent years. This preservation of tradition, coupled with a growing awareness of quality, is indebted to such artists as Joseph Metzner, Wilhelm Fischer, Karl Maria Pembaur, Ernst Hintze, Gerhart Wüstner, Franz Peter Müller-Sybel, Hans-Dieter Pflüger, Matthias Brauer and Pablo Assante, who have led the choir through difficult times to the present day. The Dresden State Opera Chorus is currently directed by Jörn Hinnerk Andresen, who since assuming his post in 2014 has maintained and developed such qualities as tonal coherence, refinement and reliably consistent precision.

The State Opera Chorus of today has to a significant degree been shaped by its collaboration with the conductor Giuseppe Sinopoli, who died far too early and dedicated much time and effort to developing the choir’s artistic potential. Nowadays, the choir frequently demonstrates its qualities in operatic productions and concert performances. Radio, television and CD recordings bear further testimony to the immense prowess on account of which the State Opera Chorus is much sought after in many places besides Dresden: the choir receives invitations to perform at festivals, on tours and in concerts and has since 2013 worked together with the Staatskapelle Dresden at the Salzburg Easter Festival, which has been directed by Christian Thielemann ever since. October 8, 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Dresden State Opera Chorus.