The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert on WRTI: Nathalie Stutzmann conducts Mozart, Wagner, and Schoenberg
Join us on Sunday, April 16 at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1 as The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert brings you a program of Mozart, Wagner, and Schoenberg from the 2022/2023 season.
The Philadelphia Orchestra’s principal guest conductor, Nathalie Stutzmann, makes her first appearance in Philadelphia this season, leading Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night, and selections from Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni with soprano Jacqueline Stucker, tenor Kenneth Tarver, and bass-baritone Eric Owens. In a fascinating interview with WRTI producer Susan Lewis, Stutzmann explains that the program examines aspects of love.
Richard Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll was a loving birthday gift for his wife, Cosima. Its premiere took place on Christmas Day of 1870, on the stairs outside the bedroom of their home. The night prior, Cosima had written in her diary that her first Christmas Eve with her husband passed with no exchange of gifts. But on Christmas Day, she awoke to the sound of a chamber orchestra outside her door. The gentle but impassioned music she heard that morning wove together a cradle song Wagner had written two years earlier with themes from the Ring cycle, which he was busy composing at the time. This Siegfried Idyll marked several key events. Not just a Christmas gift, it was a birthday present as well, since Christmas Eve was Cosima’s birthday. And it celebrated the recent birth of their son, named Siegfried after the hero of the Ring operas. Wagner had assembled a chamber orchestra of professional musicians for secret rehearsals in the weeks prior to Christmas morning.
Arnold Schoenberg’s string sextet Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) was inspired by a highly romantic poem that described a difficult circumstance for two people deeply in love. In Richard Dehmel’s verse, a young couple strolls through the woods on a moonlit night. The woman confesses to her lover that she is pregnant with the child of another man. She voices her remorse and her despair that her confession may destroy their love. But the man responds with overwhelming acceptance. He assures her that he will welcome the child as his own, and their love will endure. The lovers embrace, and continue their walk together through a transfigured night. Schoenberg responded to this poem with impassioned music for string sextet, and later arranged the work for string orchestra.
The centerpiece of this broadcast concert is a set of selections from Mozart’s operatic masterpiece, Don Giovanni. In this work, love is a more fraught subject. The title character incessantly chases love — or more accurately, seduction. The women he pursues are deceived into loving him, or have their own loving relationships disrupted by him. And the men who try to protect the women they love from the predatory Giovanni are either frustrated or killed — that is, until the ghost of one of them pulls the Don down to hell at the opera’s dramatic conclusion.
In this concert, that climactic event is foreshadowed in the first moments of the dramatic Overture. But the Overture also has its lighter side, reflecting the fact that Mozart’s opera has many comic moments.There are also deeply poignant ones, as the characters voice their conflicting emotions. Six arias follow the Overture in this presentation, belonging to three of the opera’s characters. Don Giovanni’s servant Leporello complains that he is overworked, underpaid, and has to do the Don’s dirty work. That dirty work includes ridding the Don of jilted lovers like the noblewoman Donna Elvira, who is humiliated that she has been seduced and abandoned. Enraged and still in love, she seeks revenge. Meanwhile, Don Ottavio, who is betrothed to another noblewoman, Donna Anna, whom the Don earlier attempted to seduce, expresses his constancy to Anna. In this concert, soprano Jacquelyn Stucker takes the role of Elvira, tenor Kenneth Tarver is Ottavio, and bass-baritone Eric Owens is the comic character Leporello.
Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht
Mozart: Selections from Don Giovanni
Wagner: Siegfried Idyll
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Nathalie Stutzmann, conductor
Jacqueline Stucker, soprano
Kenneth Tarver, tenor
Eric Owens, bass-baritone
Listen to The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts, every Sunday at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1, streaming at WRTI.org, on the WRTI mobile app, and on your smart speaker. Listen again on Mondays at 7 p.m. on WRTI HD-2. Listen for up to two weeks after broadcast on WRTI Replay.