By Kathy Pahr
CLEVELAND — On April 7-10, 2016 The Cleveland Orchestra, Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, and The Joffrey Ballet will perform a doublebill of staged opera and ballet in four performances at Severance Hall. The performances feature two works by 20th-century Hungarian composer Béla Bartók: his gritty and tragic ballet The Miraculous Mandarin and the operatic psychological thriller, Bluebeard’s Castle. Chicago’s The Joffrey Ballet and Artistic Director Ashley Wheater continue their long-term partnership with The Cleveland Orchestra with this production featuring newly commissioned choreography and staging for both Bartók works under the direction of choreographer Yuri Possokhov. Bluebeard’s Castle features two renowned singers, bass Mikhail Petrenko and soprano Katarina Dalayman, and members of The Joffrey Ballet in this riveting drama of a man introducing his new wife to the secrets of his past. Both productions’ set, lighting, and projections are designed by Alexander V. Nichols with costume design by Mark Zappone and costume construction by Mark A Zappone & Co.
A production video including interviews with Franz Welser-Möst and Ashley Wheater is now available below:
“For this special Bartók double-bill, opera and ballet are brought together to create an evening of collaboration between dancers, singers and musicians,” says Music Director Franz Welser-Möst. “The Orchestra will be incorporated into the staging of both works, allowing us to be even more creative with the use of space. It is important for us to present new productions, for the musicians to grow in their understanding of each work and for audiences to see these masterful works with fresh perspective. We remain fully committed to these art forms and the continuous creation of thrilling new productions. We wanted to do Bluebeard’s Castle for a long time and this extraordinary partnership with The Joffrey Ballet enables us to present the work in an exciting new way and to present another masterpiece that Bartók has written for the stage, The Miraculous Mandarin.”
“Working with Franz is a great, great honor and putting The Joffrey Ballet and The Cleveland Orchestra on stage together at Severance Hall has given us the opportunity to re-think how we use space,” says Joffrey Artistic Director Ashley Wheater. “We have come to a concept that is going to be engaging for the audience, the musicians, and the dancers. The dance world in America is not so familiar with The Miraculous Mandarin, and bringing these two Bartók works together is unique. The audience will feel the absolute power of dance and the voice altogether in one space. Thinking about who would be the best person to tackle the very dark subject of these works, I thought of Yuri Possokhov as a very clear choice; he loves drama and loves to go to the dark side.”
The Cleveland Orchestra and Ballet
As part of a new ongoing partnership with The Joffrey Ballet, begun in 2009, the Bartók performances at Severance Hall will be the first time a major work has been jointly commissioned by The Cleveland Orchestra and the Chicago-based ballet company. The Cleveland Orchestra’s relationship with The Joffrey Ballet began in the 1970s when they performed at The Cleveland Orchestra’s summer home, Blossom Music Center.
The Cleveland Orchestra and Opera
Under Franz Welser-Möst’s direction, The Cleveland Orchestra re-established itself as an important operatic ensemble with Welser-Möst leading annual opera performances during his tenure in Cleveland. In 2008, he led five sold-out performances of a staged production of Dvořák’s opera Rusalka with the Orchestra at the Salzburg Festival. He next brought fully-staged opera back to Severance Hall, following a four-decade absence, with a three-season cycle of Zurich Opera productions of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas. This was followed by concert performances of Strauss’s Salome at Severance Hall and at Carnegie Hall in 2012, and in May 2014 Welser-Möst led an innovative new production of Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen at Severance Hall. In May 2015, he led staged performances of Strauss’s Daphne at Severance Hall, followed by concert performances in New York in July as part of Lincoln Center Festival 2015.
With its commitment to ambitious and innovative artistic programming, including opera and ballet presentations, The Cleveland Orchestra was awarded a special matching grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support these ongoing initiatives. The gift of $2.5 million — the largest to the Orchestra in the Foundation’s history — supports programming and partnerships that expand the Orchestra’s repertoire and distinguish the Orchestra as a leader in opera productions. The foundation’s gift is a matching grant, helping to activate and encourage local support from a growing list of individuals.
“BARTÓK ON STAGE”
April 7 — Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
April 8 — Friday at 8 p.m.
April 9 — Saturday at 8 p.m.
April 10 — Sunday at 3 p.m.
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, music director
THE MIRACULOUS MANDARIN
by Béla Bartók
by Béla Bartók
Mikhail Petrenko, bass
Katarina Dalayman, soprano
The Joffrey Ballet
Ashley Wheater, artistic director
Yuri Possokhov, choreography and staging
Alexander V. Nichols, set/lighting/projection design
Mark Zappone, costume design
Mark A Zappone & Co., costume construction
Members of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus
Robert Porco, director
Bluebeard’s Castle is sung in Hungarian with projected English supertitles.
Supported with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
THE CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA
Under the leadership of Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, The Cleveland Orchestra, recently hailed by The New York Times as “… America’s most brilliant orchestra,” has become one of the most sought-after performing ensembles in the world, setting standards of artistic excellence, creative programming, and community engagement. The strong and ongoing financial support of the ensemble’s home region is driving the Orchestra forward with renewed energy and focus, increasing the number of young people attending concerts, and bringing fresh attention to the Orchestra’s legendary sound and committed programming.
The partnership with Franz Welser-Möst, begun in 2002 and now in its 14th year with the 2015-16 season, has earned The Cleveland Orchestra unprecedented residencies in the U.S. and around the world, including one at the Musikverein in Vienna, the first of its kind by an American orchestra. The Orchestra’s annual residency in Miami, Florida, presented under the name Cleveland Orchestra Miami, entered its tenth year in 2015-16, and involves four weeks of full programming in South Florida, including concerts, community presentations, education programs, and collaborative partnerships.
The Cleveland Orchestra has a long and distinguished recording and broadcast history. A series of DVD and CD recordings under the direction of Mr. Welser-Möst continues to add to an extensive and widely praised catalog of audio recordings made during the tenures of the ensemble’s earlier music directors. In addition, Cleveland Orchestra concerts are heard in syndication each season on radio stations throughout North America and Europe.
Seven music directors — Nikolai Sokoloff, Artur Rodzinski, Erich Leinsdorf, George Szell, Lorin Maazel, Christoph von Dohnányi, and Franz Welser-Möst — have guided and shaped the ensemble’s growth and sound since its founding in 1918. Through tours, residencies, radio broadcasts, and recordings, The Cleveland Orchestra is heard today by a broad and loyal constituency around the world. For more information visit clevelandorchestra.com.
THE JOFFREY BALLET
This season, The Joffrey Ballet celebrates its 60th company anniversary.
Classically trained to the highest standards, The Joffrey Ballet expresses a unique, inclusive perspective on dance, proudly reflecting the diversity of America with its company, audiences, and repertoire which includes major story ballets, reconstructions of masterpieces and contemporary works.
The Company’s commitment to accessibility is met through an extensive touring schedule, an innovative and highly effective education program including the much lauded Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, Community Engagement programs and collaborations with myriad other visual and performing arts organizations.
Founded by visionary teacher Robert Joffrey in 1956, guided by celebrated choreographer Gerald Arpino from 1988 until 2007, The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under internationally renowned Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Executive Director Greg Cameron. To learn more, please visit joffrey.org.