Noseda to bring an Italian flavor to second season with NSO

Tue Jan 30, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Gianandrea Noseda will lead 12 weeks of concerts in 2018-19, his second season as music director of the National Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Tracey Salazar

The Kennedy Center announced its 2018-2019 season of classical music and opera Tuesday morning, the plans for what will be Deborah Rutter’s fifth season as the institution’s president. It will also be the second season for the National Symphony Orchestra under new music director Gianandrea Noseda and new executive director Gary Ginstling.

Highlights for the NSO’s 88th season will include two world premieres of commissioned works (by Lera Auerbach and the ever-present Mason Bates) and a celebration of Italian culture (Vivaldi, Respighi, Casella, Dallapiccola). In more conventional news, the NSO plans a two-week spotlight on the music of Mozart (with three programs led by returning guest conductor Nathalie Stutzmann), and — joining an industry trend — live performances of film scores with screenings of the movies, in this case, the fourth to seventh episodes of the Star Wars franchise.

Noseda, still transitioning from positions with other orchestras, will conduct twelve weeks of programs with the NSO, up from eight programs last season. The NSO performs sixteen pieces it has never performed before, including some of those rarely heard Italian pieces that Noseda has championed on disc. One major event is a Noseda-led performance of Britten’s devastating War Requiem, featuring the NSO debut of tenor Ian Bostridge, joined by soprano Karina Flores and baritone Matthias Goerne (November 29 and December 1).

Other highlights include another installment of Bruckner, with Christoph Eschenbach returning to conduct the Second Symphony (February 28 and March 2); Noseda leading the NSO’s first-ever performances of Luciano Berio’s Folk Songs, with mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili (June 6 to 9); and the NSO debut of conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, whose meteoric rise has only continued since her appointment as music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, leading music of Debussy, Martin, and Ravel with mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke as soloist (April 11 to 13).

Continuing a promising trend from last season, the NSO is co-sponsoring visiting ensembles for two special performances next season: the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, featuring Arab and Israeli musicians playing music together under conductor Daniel Barenboim (November 7), and the orchestra of the Teatro Regio Torino, where Noseda is also music director, performing Verdi’s I vespri siciliani (May 21).

The world premiere of the new commission by Lera Auerbach, planned for March 2019, looks to be a major event. This work for chorus and orchestra, ARCTICA, is a co-commission of the NSO and the National Geographic Society, based on the composer’s expedition to the Arctic and subsequent conversations with her fellow traveler, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala. In less inspiring news, it also happens to be, regrettably, the only piece programmed by the NSO next season to have been composed by a woman.

In its first season under new general director Timothy O’Leary, Washington National Opera presents some new works, including a full staging of Silent Night, the opera by Kevin Puts that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 (November 2018). The American Opera Initiative returns with three new 20-minute operas (specifics not announced), and one new hour-long work, Taking Up Serpents by composer Kamala Sankaram and librettist Jerre Dye (January 2019).

After a more varied selection of operas this season, the rest of WNO’s 2018-2019 season consists mostly of familiar fare, including Verdi’s La Traviata, last heard from the company in 2008, and Puccini’s Tosca, heard in 2011. Two other operas, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Gounod’s Faust, have been absent from the Opera House Stage for a longer time.

Soprano Erin Wall sings Marguérite in Faust, and bass Eric Halfvarson returns as Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin. Much of the other casting brings relatively new names to Washington, including perhaps some discoveries to be made, and current and former members of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists program.

At the same time, there is no news about a replacement for the company’s music director, Philippe Auguin, who suddenly parted ways with WNO last summer. The roster of guest conductors taking the podium includes Renato Palumbo, Nicole Paiement, James Lowe, Lidiya Yakovskaya, Robert Trevino, Keri-Lynn Wilson, and Speranza Scappucci. It is perhaps an encouraging sign for the profession that over half of those names belong to women, but the impression that remains is that of a company without steady musical leadership.

The Fortas Chamber Music Concerts series, now back in its home in the renovated Terrace Theater, returns to several ensembles it has booked this season or last season, including the Dover Quartet, the Takács Quartet (ending with Elgar’s Piano Quintet, joined by Garrick Ohlsson), the Tallis Scholars, and the Venice Baroque Orchestra (this time just the selected members of that group’s chamber ensemble).

Other groups on the roster include Imani Winds, the new formation of the Juilliard String Quartet, violinist Benjamin Beilman, and the Morgenstern Trio. An interesting piano duo recital by Shai Wosner and Orion Weiss in a piano duo recital, featuring two recent works by David Lang, Gravity and After Gravity. Only one program could be described as crossover, a concert of various classical and jazz pieces performed on balalaika and other Russian folk instruments.


One Response to “Noseda to bring an Italian flavor to second season with NSO”

  1. Posted Feb 04, 2018 at 11:42 am by Laura Youens

    Thanks for the heads-up about the new season!

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