Symphony Concert N° 12

Christian Thielemann Conductor
Camilla Nylund Sopran I (Magna Peccatrix)
Ricarda Merbeth Sopran II (Una poenitentium)
Regula Mühlemann Soprann III (Mater gloriosa)
Štěpánka Pučálková Alt I (Mulier Samaritana)
Christa Mayer Alt II (Maria Aegyptiaca)
David Butt Philip Tenor (Doctor Marianus)
Michael Volle Bariton (Pater ecstaticus)
Georg Zeppenfeld Bass (Pater profundus)
Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks
State Opera Chorus Dresden
André Kellinghaus Einstudierung
Semperoper Children’s Choir
Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester

Gustav Mahler

  • Symphony No. 8

»The greatest thing«

Mahler’s Eighth was once performed at a bittersweet Staatskapelle concert on 30 June 1932 when, nine months before his expulsion, Fritz Busch conducted the opus ultimum of the great late-Romantic composer. Mahler euphorically described the combination of the Pentecost hymn »Veni, creator spiritus« with the »Faust II« finale: »It’s the greatest thing I’ve done. Think of it as the universe beginning to ring out and resound.« Visitors to the premiere in Munich on 12 September 1910, which had no fewer than 1,030 performers, unanimously reported on the overwhelming impact of the »Symphony of a Thousand« (as the publishers soon called the work) on the listener. This has not changed to the present day.

A concert introduction will be offered 45 minutes before the beginning of each performance in the opera cellar of the Semperoper.

  • Sunday
    19:00 Uhr
  • Monday
    19:00 Uhr
  • Tuesday
    19:00 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 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.

Camilla Nylund

Camilla Nylund, born in Vaasa (Finland), first studied with Eva Illes, later in the opera and song class at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. In December 1995 she was awarded the Lilli Lehmann Medal by the International Mozarteum Foundation.

After permanent engagements in Hanover and at the Semperoper Dresden, Camilla Nylund is now one of the internationally most sought-after singers in her field and is a regular guest at all major opera houses - at the Vienna State Opera, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, the Metropolitan Opera New York, La Scala di Milano, the Paris Bastille, the Berlin and Hamburg State Operas, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, at the Bayreuth and Salzburg Festivals, in Barcelona, Valencia, Zurich, Helsinki, Cologne, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Tokyo, San Francisco.

In recognition of her artistic achievements, Camilla Nylund has received numerous

awards. In November 2022, she was presented with the Lotte Lehmann Memorial Ring - one of the world's most prestigious awards for female opera singers. In September 2022, she was awarded with the European Culture Prize alongside other high-profile laureats in the Zurich Tonhalle. To honour Camilla Nylund's long and successful artistic relationship with the Vienna State Opera, the artist was awarded the title of Austrian Kammersängerin (2019). The Semperoper Dresden has also appointed Camilla Nylund as Saxon Kammersängerin. She is also recipient of the Christel Goltz Prize of the Semperoper (2000), the Culture Prize of the Swedish Cultural Fund in Finland, the Pro Finlandia Medal, awarded by the Finnish President (2013), and the Finnish State Prize for Music (2019).

Ricarda Merbeth

Ricarda Merbeth is a Wagner and Strauss interpreter in demand worldwide. She appears at the leading opera houses, including the Bayreuth Festival, Hamburg State Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Vienna State Opera, La Scala Milan, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin , New National Theatre Tokyo, Opera Nationale de Paris, Teatro Real Madrid, La Monnaie in Brussels, Royal Opera House in London and sings all the major roles in her field, including. She has sung all the important roles in her field, including Elektra, Isolde, Turandot, Helena, Ariadne, Marietta, Marschallin, Senta, Leonore, Emilia Marty, Elsa, Marie, Elisabeth and Venus, as well as the Brünnhilden in Wagner's Ring. Among others, she has with conductors Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Semyon Bychkov, Riccardo Chailly, Myung-whun Chung, Christoph von Dohnányi, Dan Ettinger, Daniele Gatti, Edward Gardner, Thomas

Guggeis, Marek Janowski, Mariss Jansons, Philippe Jordan, Vladimir Jurowski, Fabio Luisi, Ingo Metzmacher, Kent Nagano, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Seiji Ozawa, Roberto Rizzi-Brignoli, Donald Runnicles, Pinchas Steinberg, Christian Thielemann and Franz Welser-Möst.

In 2022 she will again sing Brünnhilde in Götterdämmerung at the Teatro Real de Madrid, and Turandot at the Spring Festival in Tokyo. She will sing Elektra at the Berlin State Opera in June and Brünnhilde from Siegfried and Leonore / Fidelio in concert at the Bregenz Festival. In autumn she will sing Ortrud in Lohengrin in Bologna and in 2023 she will sing Kundry in Parsifal with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Isolde in Valencia and Brünnhilde in Wagners Ring cycle at Semperoper Dresden and at Vienna State Opera.

Regula Mühlemann

Within just a few years, Swiss soprano Regula Mühlemann has established herself as one of the leading sopranos of her generation. She feels as much at home on the operatic stage as she does on the lied and concert podiums and is acclaimed by audiences and critics alike for her exceptionally beautiful timbre and sensitive performances, most recently at the 2022 Salzburg Festival: "Regula Mühlemann outstanding as a radiant Pamina." The Telegraph.

Regula Mühlemann was born in Lucerne and studied at the Conservatory of Lucerne with

Prof. Barbara Locher. Her first experiences of the opera stage took place at the Lucerne Theatre and afterwards engagements took her to the Teatro La Fenice in Venice (Despina in Così fan tutte), and then in summer 2012 she made her debut at the Salzburg Festival in von Winter’s opera Das Labyrinth. Regula Mühlemann has received numerous awards and prizes and in 2015, she was Finalist of the “Cardiff Singer of the World Competition”.

Štěpánka Pučálková

Berlin-born Czech mezzo-soprano Štěpánka Pučálková has been an ensemble member of the Semperoper Dresden since the 18/19 season.

She studied voice at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg with Univ. Prof. Elisabeth Wilke KS. In 2012 she completed her master’s degree in opera and musical theater with Josef Wallnig and Eike Gramss. At the same time she received the Lilli Lehmann Medal from the Mozarteum Foundation Salzburg.

She has worked conductors such as Christian Thielemann, Danielle Gatti, Wladimir Jurowski, Lorenzo Viotti, Christiina Poska, Plácido Domingo, Alan Gilbert, Antonio Fogliani, Friedrich Haider, Marco Guidarini, Leo Hussein, Roland Böer, Martin Leginus and directors such as Peter Konwitschny, Vera Nemirova,

Stefan Herheim, J. Köpplinger, Mariusz Trélinski, Jiří Heřman, Eike Gramss, Immo Karaman a Keith Warner.

At the Semperoper Dresden she already sang the role of Adalgisa in Bellini’s Norma, the page Urbain in Meyerbeer’s opera Les Huguenots, Lola in Cavaleria Rusticana, Sesto Pompeo in Giulio Caesarw, Mercédes in Carmen, 2. Solo voice in the opera of A. Schönberg Moses und Aron, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Muse/Nicklausse in Les contes d’Hofmann, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia and Olga in Eugene Onegin. She made her debut at the Volksoper Wien in January 2020 as Carmen.

Christa Mayer

Christa Mayer received her vocal training at the Bavarian Singakademie and the Musikhochschule in Munich, graduating in 2001 with a master class diploma. Already during her studies she was awarded numerous prizes, including a prize at the ARD International Competition in Munich.

Since 2001 Christa Mayer has been a member of the ensemble at the Semperoper in Dresden.

In the 22/23 season, the singer makes her debut as Amneris in Aida and sings Fricka as well as Siegfried-Erda in the Ring at the Semperoper Dresden, makes a guest appearance as Brangäne at the Vienna State Opera and returns to the Bayreuth Festival. On the concert stage she sings

Mahler’s Lied von der Erde with the Duisburg Philharmonic under the baton of Axel Kober and with the Gulbenkian orchestra under the baton of Hannu Lintu, participates in the ZDF New Year’s Eve Concert and takes on the alto part in Mahler’s 3rd Symphony in Dresden, Leipzig, Hamburg and Vienna under the musical direction of Christian Thielemann.

In February 2020, the Semperoper in Dresden honored Christa Mayer’s artistic merits with the title of Kammersängerin. The state of Bavaria awarded Christa Mayer with the „Bayerischer Kulturpreis“ in the fall of 2020.

Michael Volle

Michael Volle studied with Josef Metternich and Rudolf Piernay and has developed to one of the world's leading baritones. After engagements at the opera houses of Mannheim, Bonn, Düsseldorf and Cologne, he was member of the ensembles of the Zurich Opera House and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. Guest appearances have taken him to all the major opera houses in Germany and abroad (including Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Dresden, London, Paris, Barcelona, Vienna, Milan, Florence, New York and others) and to important festivals (including Bayreuth, Salzburg, Bregenz, Baden-Baden and others).

Michael Volle has a broad repertoire ranging from Mozart (Count, Don Giovanni, Don Alfonso), Strauss (Mandryka, Jochanaan, Barak, Orest) and Wagner (Holländer, Wolfram, Sachs, Amfortas, Wotan/Wanderer), Verdi (Falstaff, Iago, Nabucco), Puccini (Scarpia, Marcello,

Jack Rance, Gianni Schichi), Mussorgsky (Boris Godunov) to Berg (Wozzeck, Dr. Schön/Jack the Ripper). In addition, he appears on the concert stages with great orchestras and conductors such as Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Metha, Christian Thielemann, Antonio Pappano, Valerij Gergijev, Simon Rattle Thomas Hengelbrock, Franz Welser-Möst, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Kiril Petrenko and many others.

Michael Volle also devotes himself intensively to lieder singing and regularly gives recitals with Helmut Deutsch at the piano.

Numerous CD and DVD recordings are a documentation of his work. He was the winner of the German Theater Prize 'Der Faust' in 2009, as well as 'Singer of the Year' by the magazine 'Opernwelt' in the seasons 2007/2008 and 2013/2014.

Georg Zeppenfeld

German bass Georg Zeppenfeld, born in Attendorn, Westphalia, has been initially trained as a teacher for music and German philology, before he went on to study concert and opera singing at the Musikhochschule Detmold, and later with Hans Sotin at the Hochschule für Musik Cologne. After first engagements at the opera houses of Münster and

Bonn, he joined the ensemble of the Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden (Semperoper) in 2001, which has been his artistic home ever since.

In 2015, Georg Zeppenfeld was appointed “Kammeränger der Sächsischen Staatsoper Dresden“.

Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks

The Bavarian Radio Chorus, founded in 1946, is the oldest of the station’s three ensembles. Responsibility for the chorus’s development is traditionally held by the chorus director as well as the conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Illustrious former principal conductors who have left their mark on the chorus are Eugen Jochum, Rafael Kubelik, Sir Colin Davis, Lorin Maazel and Mariss Jansons. The chorus’s artistic director since 2005 has been Peter Dijkstra from the Netherlands. With a stylistically diverse repertoire ranging from medieval motets to contemporary choral works, from oratorios to operas, the Bavarian Radio Chorus is renowned around the world for its breathtaking homogeneity of tone.

und Mariss Jansons. Künstlerischer Leiter des Chores ist seit 2005 der Niederländer Peter
Dijkstra. Aufgrund der klanglichen Homogenität des Chores und seiner stilistischen Vielseitigkeit, die alle Gebiete des Chorgesangs von der mittelalterlichen Motette bis zu zeitgenössischen Werken, vom Oratorium bis zur Oper umfasst, genießt das Ensemble höchstes Ansehen in aller Welt.

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. 

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.

Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester

The Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester (GMJO) was founded in Vienna in 1986/87 on the initiative of Claudio Abbado. Today it is regarded as the world’s leading youth orchestra and was awarded by the European Cultural Foundation in 2007.

As well as supporting young musicians and their work, Abbado was keen to encourage the music making of young Austrian musicians together with colleagues from the then socialist republics of Czechoslovakia and Hungary. As a consequence, the GMJO became the first international youth orchestra to hold open auditions in the countries of the former Eastern Bloc. In 1992, the GMJO opened up to musicians aged up to 26 from all over Europe. As the youth orchestra for the whole of Europe, it is under the patronage of the Council of Europe.

At the auditions that take place every year in over twenty-five European cities, an international jury selects candidates from an average of 2000 applicants. Prominent orchestra musicians are members of this jury and also responsible for the preparation of the repertoire in the individual sections during the rehearsal periods of the orchestra.

The GMJO tour repertoire ranges from classical to contemporary music with the emphasis on the great symphonic works of the Romantic and late Romantic periods. Its high artistic level and

international success have prompted many leading conductors and soloists to perform with the GMJO, such as Claudio Abbado, Herbert Blomstedt, Pierre Boulez, Myung-Whun Chung, Sir Colin Davis, Christoph Eschenbach, Peter Eötvös, Daniele Gatti, Bernard Haitink, Paavo Järvi, Mariss Jansons, Kent Nagano. The GMJO has been a regular guest at the most prestigious concert halls and festivals for many years, such as the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the Mozarteum Argentino in Buenos Aires, the Salzburg Festival and the Salzburg Easter Festival, the Edinburgh International Festival, the BBC Proms, the Semperoper Dresden, and the Lucerne Festival. Many former members of the GMJO are now members of leading European orchestras, some of them in principal positions. In 2012, an intensive partnership with the renowned Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden was announced which includes concerts and projects involving members of both orchestras.

The Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester was appointed »Ambassador UNICEF Austria« on the occasion of its 25th anniversary. Erste Bank and Vienna Insurance Group – Main Sponsors of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester.