Lied Festival Victoria de los Ángeles
The Lied Festival Victoria de los Angeles pays homage to this international soprano by combining three very important facets of her life: the love for Lieder, the artistic excellence and the support to new and young talent.
In addition to postponing her LIFE Victoria debut - scheduled for spring 2020 - Sylvia Schwartz's confinement also led her to reflect on the power of escape. Music is precisely one of the quickest ways to escape, how with these vibrations in the air we can flee to other worlds, embarking on perhaps one of the most intense journeys. The soprano presents us with a three-part programme, together with Malcolm Martineau, which also becomes very pictorial (another evasive world): in the first, dedicated to German Lied, we experience romantic evasion through passionate poetry, as in a painting by Friedrich; in the second, we escape through Granados into the world of Goya, an evasion that the composer himself experienced at a time of war - the First World War - which ended his own life; in the third, Poulenc presents us with the most primal and greatest evasion: that of children. Before that, the promising Lluís Calvet i Pey and Èric Varas on piano offer two delightful cycles, as LIFE New Artists: Let us Garlands Bring by Finzi and Chansons gaillardes by Poulenc, in which constant reference is made to an ideal woman... called Sylvia.
With songs by Mahler, Liszt, Schumann, Vaughan Williams, Guastavino and others, British soprano Kate Royal, together with Joseph Middleton on piano, will explain a young man's journey from dawn to dusk, reaching the deep hours of the - sometimes difficult - night. A song for every hour of the day, beginning at six o'clock in the morning in a vital way with Mahler's spring morning Frühlingsmorgen and ending at five o'clock the next morning in a more sombre and passionate way with Wolf's Morgenstimmung.
Two sides of the same coin and of seeing the dawn, in the midst of which this young woman presents herself to us as hedonistic (with Guastavino's Siesta) and profound (with Schumann's Mondnacht); nostalgic (with Korngold's Mond so geht du wieder auf) and earthy (with Bernstein's Rabbit stew). A highly personal cycle created by the soprano and pianist that is a journey through the human psyche and the different states of the soul. Before, Pau Armengol and Álvaro Carnicero participate in the recital as LIFE New Artists with a short selection of Lieder by Schubert and Schumann.
La voix humaine (1958) is a lyrical tragedy in one act for soprano and orchestra with music by Francis Poulenc based on the homonymous play by Jean Cocteau. The play (1929) premiered on February 17, 1930 at the Comédie-Française in Paris, while the opera premiered on February 6, 1959 at the Opéra Comique in Paris by Denise Duval and under the direction of Georges Prêtre. The composer finalized the score for voice and piano on June 2, 1958, a version that was performed at LIFE Victoria in 2019.
A woman, alone, in an apartment in Paris, late at night, desperately clings to a phone that is the only connection she has left with her partner and lover, who has abandoned her despite the fact that she does not accept it. Ridiculous - as she herself says - and annulled by this addiction to the other person, she has no name. It is simply elle (she), without even us as the public, knowing that there is truly a lui (he) on the other end of the phone. Throughout this hectic telephone conversation, the viewer discovers things in the life of this lonely woman, reaching a final desperate climax
The two resident artists of LIFE Victoria 2019, Mercedes Gancedo and Julius Drake collaborate for the first time presenting the pianistic version of this powerful opera by Poulenc.
Goats from Tibet, swans, turkeys, lions, dolphins ... all kinds of animals visit us in this program devised by the baritone Christopher Maltman and the pianist Malcolm Martineau that they presented at the Life Victoria last November 2018. Two of the most expected debuts at the Festival united in this recital: the English baritone dominates the Lied with the same ease as the opera, being a regular both at the Salzburg Festival, the Royal Opera House or the Metropolitan Opera House as well as the Wigmore Hall or the Oxford Lieder. He sang at Life with his regular pianist, Malcolm Martineau, who also accompanies artists such as Susan Graham, Anna Netrebko or Thomas Hampson, being considered one of the most prolific of his generation.
Lili Boulanger, premature death
Talking about Lili Boulanger is also talking about her sister Nadia, since if the first died in 1918 when she was only twenty-four years old, the second lived until she was ninety-two, dying in 1979, and thus being responsible for Lili’s musical legacy endure. After the death of her sister, Nadia promised not to compose anymore, dedicating herself to pedagogy with such illustrious students as George Gershwin, Astor Piazzola or Philipp Glass.
Stéphane Degout puts the work of Lili Boulanger in dialogue with that of Gabriel Fauré, her teacher and friend of her parents Juliette, singer, and Ernest, composer. Claude Debussy -who died the same year as Lili- will also be present, as well as Franz Schubert and Hugo Wolf, in a program that puts the work of the French composer in the right place.
"I was in Barcelona during the Olympic Games, and I had the opportunity to listen to Victoria de los Ángeles. And listening to her sing that song ... magical aria, I thought I was in heaven. It is really the most beautiful thing I have ever heard". This is how the mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade -Flicka as she is affectionately called- remembers the experience of listening to Victoria de los Ángeles singing El cant dels ocells during the closing of the Olympic Games in Barcelona at the Olympic Stadium in Montjuïc in 1992.
With a brilliant career behind her -from the Metropolitan to La Scala, addressing all kinds of genres and styles, from the musical to Mozart- von Stade left her permanent lyrical activity in 2010, focusing on teaching through masterclasses and specific projects that awoke her interest, such as participation in Lembit Beecher's opera Sky on Wings in 2018 at the Philadelphia Opera, or the creation of lyrics for Jake Heggie's Paper Wings song cycle. This sincere esteem and admiration for Victoria are what made it possible for Flicka to return to a European stage and for her to do so within LIFE Victoria. She offers a very personal tribute recital to the Catalan soprano - to whom Albert Guinovart accompanied for years - but also in retrospect of her impressive career from a splendid interpretive maturity, which gives the song a new dimension. Heartfelt thanks, Flicka!