This December, Melbourne streets will be thronged with opera lovers, specifically those who have come from near and far to hear Wagner’s great Ring Cycle. So it’s timely that the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra has the acclaimed Australian conductor Simone Young returning to Melbourne to conduct the MSO in Wagner and Bruckner.
And, not only has the MSO avoided a clash with the operas, audiences will have the opportunity to visit the superb Hamer Hall just a short distance from the State Theatre, the venue for the Ring.
A devotee of both Wagner and Bruckner, Young conducts excerpts from Wagner’s final opera Parsifal and Bruckner’s last symphony, his Ninth. Young is joined by fellow Australian, the acclaimed heldentenor Stuart Skelton and American mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung (making her MSO debut) for the roles of Parsifal and his temptress Kundry.
Sydney-born Simone Young is regarded as one of the leading conductors of her generation and was the first woman to conduct at the Vienna State Opera, Vienna Philharmonic and Paris’ Bastille. Until mid-2015 she was general manager and music director of the Hamburg State Opera, a role she held for a decade.
On returning to Melbourne, Young said:
“I’m already greatly looking forward to returning to the MSO in December, with repertoire that is very close to my heart.
“Bruckner’s unfinished Ninth Symphony is one of the greatest symphonic achievements of the nineteenth century. The experiences of a lifetime are in this work, and the absence of a final movement leaves us with a rhetorical question as to what comes next…
“The answer is not to be found in Act II of Parsifal, even if Kundry and Parsifal themselves find enlightenment at the end of this extended scene. Stormy and emotional, this expansive duet encompasses every human emotion, from grief and compassion, to love, desire, fury and remorse.
“To perform this with Stuart and Michelle, both marvellous artists with whom I have worked often in the last decade, will be a great pleasure. Michelle sang Kundry with me in Hamburg and her beauty of voice, intensity of delivery and powerful stage presence make her one of the world’s leading interpreters of this role. Stuart and I have worked together in a number of Wagner and Strauss operas, and Australia must consider itself very lucky to have one of the rare, and internationally acclaimed, Wagner tenors of our time as its own.”
With the two MSO concerts scheduled for December 1 and 3, Wagner lovers can maximize their visits to the Victorian Arts Centre by hearing music from Parsifal, with an internationally celebrated line-up including one of Australia’s most famous conductors making a rare visit home.
Bookings are strongly recommended, with all details on the MSO website.