Thursday 25 December 2008

Daniel Barenboim

Daniel Barenboim


Daniel Barenboim, Israeli-Argentinian-(Palestinian) conductor and pianist. Born 1942 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This post will focus on Daniel Barenboim, the opera conductor.
General information including an extensive biography on may be seen on his website.

As a conductor, Daniel Barenboim is particularly reknowned for his interpretations of the works of Richard Wagner, a cornerstone in both his performance and recorded output.

Daniel Barenboim´s overall conducting debut was in 1967 with the Philharmonia Orchestra and his opera conducting debut took place in 1973 with Don Giovanni at the Edinburgh International Festival.
Daniel Barenboim´s major breakthrough as an opera conductor came in 1981 with his debut at the Bayreuth Festival conducting Tristan and Isolde. Until 2000 he appeared every year at the Bayreuth Festival, conducting Tristan und Isolde (twice on DVD), Nibelungen Ring (on DVD and CD), Parsifal (on CD) and Meistersinger (on DVD and CD).

Daniel Barenboim served as music director of the Orchestre de Paris 1975-89 and
was appointed artistic director of the Paris Bastille Opera, scheduled to open in 1989, however he resigned/was dismissed amidst major controversy before the new opera house was even inaugurated. Immediately thereafter he was named Sir Georg Solti´s successor as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as post he held 1991-2006.In 1992, Barenboim became General music director of the Berlin State Opera, a post he still holds. In 1999, he narrowly lost the bid for chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonics to Sir Simon Rattle and he has subsequently intensified his efforts in developing the Berlin State Opera Orchestra (Staatskapelle Berlin) into a first-rate orchestra. Subsequently, in 2000, the Berlin State Opera Orchestra appointed him chief conductor for life.
In 2001, Daniel Barenboim created controversy by conducting Wagner (prelude to Tristan and Isolde) in Israel.
In 2006 he was named Principal Guest conductor (Maestro Scaligero) at La Scala, Milan, where he conducted Patrice Chéreau’s new production of Tristan und Isolde in December 2007 to glorious reviews. For the La Scala season opening in 2009 he conducted Carmen, in 2010 Walküre and in 2011 Don Giovanni.
Daniel Barenboim´s somewhat belated Metropolitan Opera debut took place in December 2008 with Tristan and Isolde.

Daniel Barenboim has appeared several times as an opera conductor at the Salzburg Festival, most notably with Don Giovanni (mid-90´s) and latest in 2007 with a highly praised production of Eugene Onegin, now released on DVD.

In 1999, Daniel Barenboim co-founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, with whom he has made several high-profile appearances, including a 2008 European concert tour of Walküre Act 1. In 2009, the orchestra will perform Fidelio in concert, both at the Proms and at the Salzburg Festival.
Daniel Barenboim:
I met Furtwängler when I was 11 years old. I did not have the courage and even less the understanding to talk to him about this issue. But I believe he never really identified himself with that horror. With Karajan, it was different. I summoned him and he told me: “I had artistic ambitions, I wanted to work in Germany, and for this I had to associate myself to the Nazi Party. That is what I did.
I have thought about this [Furtwängler conducting for Hitler througout the war] all my life. I don’t think Furtwängler was an active Nazi. But he belonged to a generation that still believed one could close one’s eyes to bad things and live through art. They viewed music as separate from life. Which also explains how Hitler was moved to tears by a performance of Lohengrin, and then that same evening was able to send thousands to the gas chambers.
I always wanted to conduct. I went to a class to study conducting for the first time when I was 11 years old.
The conductor decides on the orchestra, the times, the music etc. But when the orchestra plays and it is either unwilling or unable to play like the conductor wanted, he is totally powerless. And as powerlessness often does, it makes people think they are very powerful. And that's why conductors' egos are so famous.


Daniel Barenboim clearly states Wilhelm Furtwängler as his main model, particularly regarding conducting Wagner and several Furtwängler assets may be recognizable in Daniel Barenboim´s trademarks as a Wagner conductor, such as the relatively slow paced readings, relying extensively on rubato within a very dominant string section. Furthermore, conveying muscial structure is one of Daniel Barenboim´s main assets. Many see him as the foremost Wagnerian conductor alive today, conducting within the German tradition.

Daniel Barenboim is perhaps most revered for his interpretation of Tristan and Isolde, by his own admission his favourite opera, making his debut in Götz Friedrich´s staging at Deutsche Opera in 1978 and subsequently conducting staged performances in Bayreuth (twice), Berlin, Madrid, La Scala and the Metropolian Opera.

After he stopped performing at the Bayreuth Festival in 1999 after being a Festival cornerstone for almost 20 years, his Wagner performances are mainly concentrated at the Berlin State Opera.
During the 1990´s, Daniel Barenboim collaborated with director Harry Kupfer at the Berlin State Opera, where together they staged all of Richard Wagner´s 10 major operas, performed together at a Festival in Berlin 2001. In 2009 he conducted a new production of Lohengrin, directed by Stefan Herheim, in Berlin.
Barenboim´s belated debut at The Met took place in 2008 with Tristan and Isolde.

Daniel Barenboim began his third production of the Nibelungen Ring (after the two Kupfer productions in Bayreuth and Berlin), a coproduction between the Berlin State Opera and La Scala 2010-13 directed by Guy Cassiers.

Daniel Barenboim, Parsifal Act 3 "Mittag" - Harry Kupfer production from Berlin mid-90s:


Other than Richard Wagner, Daniel Barenboim predominantly conducts the German classic operas, in particular those of Mozart, where he repeatedly returns to Don Giovanni in particular, as well as Beethoven´s Fidelio.
Verdi, he has only conducted sporadically, the Requiem apart, such as Otello in Berlin 2001 and Aida (2009) and Simone Boccanegra (2009-12) both in Berlin and at La Scala with Plácido Domingo in the title part.. 
In recent years Daniel Barenboim has furthermore conducted La Traviata, Carmen, Wozzeck, Boris Godunov, Doktor Faust, Manon and The Gambler at the Berlin State Opera. In addition to Berlin, he has conducted Eugen Onegin in Salzburg.
At La Scala he has asssumed a position of unofficial music director opening the 2009-10 season with Carmen as well as conducting Aida, The Gambler, Simone Boccanegra and Don Giovanni. 

Apart from a recording of Elektra, I am not aware of Barenboim conducting other of Strauss´operas or any of Puccini.

A new Nibelungen Ring is scheduled for 2010-13, a coproduction between La Scala and the Berlin State Opera as mentioned abov
Daniel Barenboim conducts the ouverture to the Magic Flute, 1997 on a Berlin State Opera tour to Japan:


Wagner operas:
Parsifal (1991)
Tristan and Isolde (1993)
Lohengrin (1998)
Ring des Nibelungen (1994)
Meistersinger (2000)
Flying Dutchman (2002)
Tannhäuser (2002)

Non-Wagner operas:

Beatrice et Benedict
Don Giovanni (1973 - remastered)
Nozze di Figaro (1976 - remastered)
Samson et Dalila (1979)
Cosí fan tutte (1991)
Nozze di Figaro (1991)
Don Giovanni (1992)
Elektra (1996)
Wozzeck (1997)
Die Brautwahl (1999)
Fidelio (2000)


Wagner operas:

Meistersinger - Bayreuth 1999, d: Wagner
Ring des Nibelungen - Bayreuth 1992, d: Kupfer
Tristan and Isolde - Bayreuth 1982, d: PonnelleTristan and Isolde - Bayreuth 1995, d: Müller
Tristan and Isolde - La Scala 2007, d: Chéreau

Non-Wagner operas:
Cosí Fan Tutte - Berlin State Opera 2002, d: Dörrie
Eugen Onegin - Salzburg Festival 2007, d: Breth
Manon - Berlin State Opera 2007, d: Paterson
Nozze di Figaro - Berlin State Opera 2000, d:Langhoff
Otello - Berlin State Opera 2001, d: Flimm
Simone Boccanegra - Scala 2010
Wozzeck - Berlin State Opera 1994, d: Chéreau


Boris Godunov - Berlin State Opera 2007
Doktor Faust - Berlin State Opera 2008Don Giovanni - Berlin State Opera 2007 (seen twice)
Eugen Onegin - Berlin State Opera 2008
The Gambler - Berlin State Opera 2008
Manon - Berlin State Opera 2007Meistersinger - Berlin State Opera 2008 (seen twice)
Parsifal - Berlin State Opera 2007 (twice) and Berlin State Opera 2009 (twice)
Tristan and Isolde - La Scala 2007, Berlin State Opera 2008
Lohengrin - Berlin State Opera 2009

Non-operatic performances:

Rolando Villazón Recital - Berlin State Opera 2008
Magdalena Kozena/Dorothea Röschmann Recital - Berlin State Opera 2008

Verdi Requiem - Berlin 2009


All posts on mostly opera related to Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim´s website
Wikipedia biography on Daniel Barenboim


Anonymous said...

Have you ever heard if that Harry Kupfer PARSIFAL will be released on DVD?

Tyrel Boelsma said...

God, I love you! Your posts are so interesting and full of insight! Opera is a fairly new love of mine, so your posts help me catch up on all that I've missed over the years!

- Tyrel

mostly opera... said...

Beth - I simply don´t know and haven´t heard anything at all.

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