Summer is a wonderful time for music lovers in Monaco with the Summer Dream benefit concert and the annual Concerts in the Prince’s Palace.
First, though, there’s the Orchestra’s final concert of the 2014-15 season at the Rainier III Auditorium, which features music by Brahms – his Piano Concerto No 2 – and Richard Strauss’ tone poem, Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life). The concert features two young French artists – conductor Alain Altinoglu and pianist Adam Laloum. Altinoglu, forging a successful career as an opera conductor, is a regular guest on the stages of some of the world’s greatest opera houses and has also appeared at each of the four opera houses in Paris. Adam Laloum, best known for his chamber and solo piano appearances, was the 2007 winner of the Maurice Ravel Prize at the Festival de la Roque d’Anthéton, and winner of the audience award at the 2009 Clara Haskil International Piano Competition.
This performance takes place in the Auditorium Rainier III on Friday, 3rd July, at l8h00, and André Peyrègne will give a presentation of the works at 19h30. For tickets, call +377 93 10 84 00.
This year, the Summer Dream concert forms part of the 2015 Year of Russia in Monaco festival. A benefit performance for the Prince Albert II Foundation, it takes place at the Salle Garnier of the Monte-Carlo Opera House on 6th July, under the High Patronage of the Prince himself.
This exceptional gala event stars the internationally acclaimed Russian bass-baritone, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and marks the anniversary of a performance by legendary Russian baritone Feodor Chaliapin on the same stage, 110 years ago.
Chaliapin is regarded as the most influential opera singer of all time, of whom Sergey Rachmaninov said: “Chaliapin will never die; for with his fabulous talent, this marvelous artist can never be forgotten… To future generations Chaliapin will become a legend.” Toscanini is quoted as saying that Chaliapin was the greatest operatic talent with whom he had ever worked.
Hvorostovsky – who thrilled the world with his performance at the opening of the Sochi Winter Olympics – is much in demand around the world as both an opera singer and recitalist, receiving rave reviews for his performances. The Miami Herald describes him as “the world’s greatest baritone”, The Chicago Sun Times writes of “a performance whose emotional intensity and technical mastery will linger long in the memory”, and according to the San Francisco Examiner, “The sheer beauty of Hvorostovsky’s voice approaches legendary status”.
Accompanied by pianist Ivari Ilja, Dmitri Hvorostovsky presents a concert dedicated to Russian Romance, which will be introduced by radio and TV personality Stéphane Bern, and includes a tribute to Feodor Chaliapin. The performance takes place in the Salle Garnier on 6th July at 21h30. Reservations can be made by calling +377.98.06.28.28, reserved online, or directly at the Monte-Carlo Casino ticket office, open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10h00 to 17h30.
The Grimaldi Princes have a history of appreciation and patronage of the arts, particularly music, and in 1959, Prince Rainier III initiated the series of Summer Concerts in the Courtyard of the Palace. Owing to its architecture, the Courtyard is known to have excellent acoustics and an unusual clarity of sound, and it forms an enchanting backdrop to these performances by the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra.
The opening performance of the series also pays homage to the 2015 Russia in Monaco festival. One of the world’s most illustrious conductors, Valery Gergiev, Artistic and General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, leads the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra in an all-Russian performance, featuring Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances and Tchaikovsky’s beautiful and passionate Symphony No 5.
Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra present around 760 performances each year, both in Russia and abroad. He is also Principal Conductor of the London Symphony and the Munich Philharmonic orchestras, and appears with the Metropolitan Opera, the Vienna, New York and Rotterdam Philharmonic orchestras, as well as the orchestra of Teatro alla Scala in Milan. Maestro Gergiev has organised, and directs, several international music festivals, including the Stars of the White Nights festival in St Petersburg, where his arrival at the Mariinsky is acknowledged to have initiated a period of renaissance and intense artistic development.
The Summer Concert on 23rd July features cellist Ophélie Gaillard (pictured in lead image) of whom critic Stephen Eddins wrote in Allmusic, that her “technical fluency is unimpeachable. Her intonation …. is impeccable. She plays with a ripe, absolutely luscious tone …. and her use of ornamentation is elegant and understated”. Baroque specialist, Ms Gaillard plays Ernest Bloch’s tone poem, Schelomo : Rhapsodie hébraïque pour violoncelle et orchestre, the final work of his Jewish Cycle, based on the figure of Solomon and the book of Ecclesiastes.
This performance, which also features the Dvořák Symphony No 9, From the New World, is directed by British conductor James Judd – Music Director of the Israel Symphony, and Music Director Emeritus of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Considered one of the foremost interpreters of British orchestral music, Mr Judd is also a champion of the works of Gustav Mahler, and an accomplished operatic director.
On the 26th July, Gianluigi Gelmetti – Artistic and Music Director of the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra – directs the Orchestra in a performance of works by Fauré, Bruch and Ravel.
Gabriel Fauré’s hauntingly beautiful Pavane takes its name from the slow, processional dance which was fashionable in Europe during the 16th century. Fauré himself described it as “elegant, but not otherwise important” – but it’s a popular work, and on this occasion, the Orchestra is joined by the Regional Choir of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
The soloist in Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No 1 is Russian violinist Boris Belkin who has not only appeared with many of the world’s leading orchestras, but also featured in a number of television productions – in a biography of Jean Sibelius, twice with Leonard Bernstein, and with Bernard Haitink and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He is also a chamber musician, having appeared with performers such as Yuri Bashmet and Mischa Maisky.
Serge Diaghilev commissioned the score for his ballet Daphnis and Chloe from Maurice Ravel in 1909. The ballet, based on a pastoral tale by the Greek poet, Longus, was choreographed by Michel Fokine, with sets by Léon Bakst, and the leading roles were danced by Vaslav Nijinsky and Tamara Karsavina. The Suite No 2 comprises the last three pieces from the score – Lever du jour, Pantomime, and Danse générale.
The concert on 30th July – again part of the Russia in Monaco festival – is an all-Rachmaninoff affair, featuring his gorgeous Vocalise No 14, and his magnificent Symphony No 2.
The performance is conducted by Spanish conductor and composer, Pedro Halffter, Artistic Director of Seville’s Teatro de la Maestranza, and Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of both the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla and the Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria in Las Palmas. He is also a successful opera conductor, having directed more than 30 works, the most recent of which were Tannhäuser, in a new production by Katharina Wagner, and Strauss’ Salome with which he made his debut at the Staatsoper in Berlin.
Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise is the last of his Fourteen Songs, Op 34, and is usually performed by a soprano – on this occasion, by French soprano Annick Massis. Ms Massis has appeared in some of Europe’s most prestigious opera houses, at the Metropolitan Opera and in Washington DC, and all of the most important opera houses in France. She has also worked with illustrious conductors such as Richard Bonynge, Georges Prêtre, Zubin Mehta and Simon Rattle, and amongst her operatic roles, she has sung Lucia di Lammermoor in ten different productions.
The July Concerts at the Prince’s Palace take place on 19th, 23rd, 26th and 30th of the month – two more follow in August. For information on tickets, visit the OPMC website.
Lead image Ophélie Gaillard – © Caroline Doutre; l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo in the Courtyard of Honour at the Prince’s Palace, Monte-Carlo – © Monaco Press Centre Photos