Symphony Concert N° 10

Christian Thielemann Conductor
Christa Mayer Alto
Ladies of the State Opera Chorus Dresden
André Kellinghaus Einstudierung
Semperoper Children’s Choir
Claudia Sebastian-Bertsch Einstudierung

Gustav Mahler

  • Symphony No. 3 in d minor

Musical cosmology

Like its predecessors, this work has an explicit programme; yet unlike his Second Symphony, Gustav Mahler sketches out a musical cosmology under the title »A Summer’s Midday Dream«: from inanimate matter to plants, animals, people and angels all the way up to divine love. Even the opening – half march, half folk song – sounds like music from before the dawn of civilisation: adamantine, monolithic, solid as a mountain. With the Third’s enormous orchestration, the composer self-confidently shattered the traditional classical mould. »To me, symphony means: building a world with all the technical means at my disposal.«

A concert introduction by Hagen Kunze is given 45 minutes before the start of the performance in the opera cellar.

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 was Artistic Director of the Salzburg Easter Festival from 2013 to 2022. In September 2023, Christian Thielemann was announced as Daniel Barenboim's designated successor. He will take up the position of General Music Director of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden from the 2024/2025 season.

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«, »Capriccio« and »Aida« while for the Salzburg Easter Festival he interpreted »Die Walküre«, »Tos­ca«, »Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg« and »Lohengrin«.Christian Thielemann maintains close ties to the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic, whose New Year’s Concert he conducted in 2019 and will conduct again in 2024.

He was Musical Advisor and Music Director of the Bayreuth Festival, at which he has made his mark with his interpretations every year since his debut in the summer of 2000. 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 of the Semperoper Trust in October 2016. In April 2022 he was awarded the Badge of Honor of the Province of Salzburg and in July 2022 he was awarded the Coat of Arms Medal in Gold of the City of Salzburg. 2023 he received honorary membership and the Ring of Honour of the Wiener Staatsoper. In April 2024, he was made an honorary member of the Vienna Philharmonic.

He is patron of the Richard-Wagner-Stätten in Graupa. His recordings have been showered with awards.

Christa Mayer

Christa Mayer studied at the University of Music and Theatre in Munich. She attended the class of Lied interpretation with Helmut Deutsch and the opera course, taking part in performances at the Prinzregententheater Munich, and graduated with 1st class honours.

She was a prize winner in several competitions, such as the ARD International Music Competition 2000. Moreover, she has been awarded the Richard-Strauss-Medal – the Young Talent Prize of the Richard Strauss Society – and the Bavarian State’s Prize for Young Artists.

In 2001/2002 season Christa Mayer joined the ensemble of the Saxon State Opera in Dresden, where she has been performing Erda in »Das Rheingold« and »Siegfried«, Fenena in »Nabucco«Suzuki in »Madama Butterfly« with Fabio Luisi, Quickly in Verdi’s »Falstaff« with Daniele Gatti, Baba in »The Rake’s progress«, Adelaide in »Arabella« with Peter Schneider.

She was engaged at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and at the Bavarian Staatsoper Munich as well as at the Teatro di Maggio musicale Florence and the Teatro La Fenice Venice.

In 2006 she performed (»Rheingold«) in the »Ring«-Cycle at the Semperoper Dresden under the baton of Fabio Luisi, and she debuted as Waltraute in »Götterdämmerung«. In 2007 she took part in the »Ring«-Cycle in Valencia and Florence (M° Zubin Mehta) as Erda Rheingold«).

Christa Mayer is even an internationally acclaimed concert singer: Bach »Weihnachtsoratorium«  – Helmuth Rilling, »Mozart-Requiem« – Barcelona Palau de la Musica, Beethoven »Missa C-Dur« – Lissabon Teatro San Carlo; Beethoven »9th Symphony« – Bamberger Symphoniker,

Bach »h-moll-Messe« – Kreuzkirche, Dresden; Händel- »Messiah« – Konzerthaus Berlin and Mahler-»Kindertotenlieder«, September Musical Montreux. Glanert »Requiem for Bosch« with BBC London, »Gurrelieder« with Thielemann in Dresden.

Following her CD Recital Debut with songs of Hermann Zilcher at Orfeo International, the artist performed at the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg, the Bad Kissingen Summer Festival and the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival.

In Summer 2008 Christa Mayer made her debut at the Bayreuth Festival – as Erda and Waltraute, followed by the re-invitation for 2009 and 2010, even as Mary in »Der fliegende Holländer«. Her interpretation of Brigitta in »Die tote Stadt« at the Venice Fenice turned out to be a much acclaimed success.

In Dresden she sang Cornelia in Handel’s »Giulio Cesare«, Gaea in Dresden’s new production »Daphne«, Didon in »Les Troyens« and Erda/Waltraute in »Ring«. As Cornelia she was even invited to Düsseldorf, at the Hamburg State Opera she sang Quickly (»Falstaff«) and Erda.

Her Brangäne in »Tristan«, new production, at the Bayreuth Festival received high international acclaim. The New National Theatre Tokyo invited Christa Mayer as Erda (»Rheingold«/»Siegfried«). In Salzburg Christa Mayer sang Emilia (»Otello«), the mezzo part in »Missa solemnis« and Fricka (»Walküre«) under Christian Thielemann.

The Saxon State Opera of Dresden honoured Christa Mayer for her artistic achievements and awarded her the prestigious title of »Kammersängerin«. The Bavarian State awarded Christa Mayer the »Bayerischer Kulturpreis«.

Ladies of the State Opera Chorus Dresden

The Dresden Opera Chorus was founded on 8 October 1817 by royal proclamation. The issuing of this decree by Frederick Augustus I of Saxony can be largely attributed to the efforts of the recently engaged court Kapellmeister, Carl Maria von Weber, who was commissioned in that year to establish a German opera company to complement the Italian opera long performed in Dresden. Weber demanded the establishment of a »permanent theatre choir« able to meet the rising demands of the new opera repertoire.

Over the following decades and centuries, the Saxon State Opera Chorus developed into a first-class and highly sought-after ensemble thanks to the many outstanding figures who maintained its operatic roots while carefully nurturing its artistic development. The list of former directors includes Joseph Metzner, Wilhelm Fischer, Karl Maria Pembaur, Ernst Hintze, Gerhart Wüstner, Hans Peter Müller-Sybel, Hans-Dieter Pflüger and Matthias Brauer. They all cultivated the unique sound of the State Opera Chorus, a quality particularly influenced by the ensemble’s active concert schedule. An homogeneous and elegant tone, sensitive piano singing infused with a dense and rich timbre, these are the essential characteristics of the State Opera Chorus.

Today the Saxon State Opera Chorus is regarded as one of Europe’s leading classical choirs. Its appearances on the operatic stage, its participation in concerts and radio, television or CD productions as well as its regular performances at festivals and on tour have earned it international recognition and the highest accolades.

Of particular significance was the collaboration with the conductor Giuseppe Sinopoli, who viewed the ensemble as still possessing untapped reserves. In numerous CD productions, the chorus time and again reached new artistic heights, which were consolidated in the years after Sinopoli’s sudden death by constant work.

As in all artistic endeavours of the Saxon State Opera in Dresden, the State Opera Chorus combines a strong sense of tradition and contemporary artistic responsibility with a desire to meet future challenges.

On 8 October 2017, the Saxon State Opera Chorus celebrated its 200th anniversary.

Semperoper Children’s Choir

The Semperoper Children’s Choir is an integral part of the opera company and can be frequently enjoyed in a wide range of pieces, including Puccini’s »La bohème« and »Tosca«, Humperdinck’s »Hansel and Gretel«, Strauss’s »Der Rosenkavalier« and Verdi’s »Otello«. Primary schoolchildren (from their second year) rehearse here regularly in the full choir as well as in smaller ensembles while receiving dedicated instruction in singing and stage performance.

The history of the Children’s Choir goes back to the 1950s. Initially, the ensemble was led by choral directors of the Dresden State Opera such as Ernst Hintze, Gerhard Wüstner and Franz-Peter Müller-Sybel. Werner Kitz and Werner Czerny were followed in 1994 by Andreas Heinze, who directed the choir for twenty years. Since 2014, the Children’s Choir has been led by Dresden choral director Claudia Sebastian-Bertsch.

In addition to

performances at the opera house, the choir is involved in Semper Zwei productions such as »Puss in Boots« by Caesar Cui or »Prinz Bussel« by Johannes Wulff-Woesten. The Children’s Choir of the Semperoper Dresden has also appeared several times in concert, such as in 2018 at the performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, conducted by Christian Thielemann. In addition to their demanding opera and concert programme, the children work together with their director on their own concert repertoire, consisting of folk song and madrigals, contemporary compositions as well as international songs. In the spring of 2019, a selection of this repertoire was recorded for CD release. In 2013, the Semperoper Children’s Choir was awarded the Semperoper Foundation Prize in recognition of its artistic achievements.