Lehár: The Land of Smiles
Premièred in 1929, The Land of Smiles is one of Lehár's later works, although it is in fact a new version of his own earlier work from 1923, The Yellow Jacket. One of the key triumphs of the composer's career, this revision came decades after The Merry Widow (1905) and The Count of Luxembourg (1909). Who has not heard the operetta's irresistible hit, the song Dein ist mein ganzes Herz, which even the very greatest opera singers - ranging from Mario Lanza to Plácido Domingo - have fondly performed over the years? The story is about love, naturally, and the thrilling relationship between a European woman and a Chinese man - the countess Lisa Lichtenfels and the Chinese ambassador Prince Sou-Chong - is an exciting thread that, sadly, proves unviable: the generous Asian aristocrat eventually himself helps Lisa, with whom he is hopelessly smitten, flee from him with the man she has chosen: Gustav von Pottenstein-Hatfaludy. The unique feature of Müpa Budapest's production is the international cast: Prince Sou-Chong is being sung by Vincent Schirrmacher, with Lisa portrayed by Armenian soprano Karine Babajanyan, who is already well known to the Müpa Budapest audience. The production's conductor, Xu Zhong, is also from China, while the director is Hungary's Csaba Káel. Grand operetta in three acts, in two parts. German-language production with Hungarian surtitles. The première takes place as a collaboration between Müpa Budapest and the Shanghai Opera House.
Branford Marsalis returns to Budapest
Five years on, Branford Marsalis returns with his quartet to Müpa Budapest. His old/new musical partner, Justin Faulkner, will be behind the drums, and it would be no exaggeration to say the drummer was discovered by Marsalis. As usual, Marsalis, who is one of the greatest saxophone players in the world, will be accompanied by Joey Calderazzo, a pianist who is constantly seeking new paths and challenges, and the Grammy-winning double bassist Eric Revis, whose sound has been described by Marsalis as the 'sound of doom'. The three-time Grammy winner and NEA Jazz Master saxophonist founded his first quartet in 1986, and playing as part of a group has been his favoured mode of expression ever since. At the same time, he has always been keen to explore other possibilities, and over the years his quartet has been expanded to include such special guests as Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Dizzie Gillespie and Herbie Hancock, while he has also played as a duo alongside various piano players, including the aforementioned Calderazzo. In 2015, Marsalis performed a concert in the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco to record a unique solo album, In My Solitude. His openness as an artist is demonstrated by his involvement with classical music. The works of Copland, Debussy, Glazunov, Ibert, Mahler, Milhaud, Ned Rorem, Vaughan Williams, Villa-Lobos and Sally Beamish all form part of his repertoire, while he frequently performs live alongside symphony orchestras. The Branford Marsalis Quartet has set the standard in the jazz world with its virtuoso playing style, stunningly expressive melodies, incredible musical forms and own rich repertoire of songs.
La Chapelle Rhénane
It is perhaps no coincidence that Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) was born exactly 100 years before Johann Sebastian Bach. He is thought to be the most important German composer of the pre-Bach period. That Schütz's music did not remain purely German but was greatly enriched by foreign influences was an important part of his artistic development. As a young man, Schütz spent several years in Venice (1609-1612), during which time he studied under one of that period's most significant composers, Giovanni Gabrieli (1554/57-1612). Gabrieli taught Schütz the so-called double-choir technique, a characteristic 'call and response' (antiphonal) mode of composition typical of composers of St. Mark's Cathedral, which Schütz employed in his own works. His monumental series entitled Psalms of David (Psalmen Davids) is an important chapter in his oeuvre. Completed in 1619, shortly after his studies in Italy, it is a powerful illustration of how he was influenced by what he had learned abroad. La Chapelle Rhénane, the Strasbourg-based Early Music ensemble founded in 2001 by Benoît Haller, primarily performs works by Bach, Buxtehude, Samuel Capricornus and Schütz, and has also produced a recording of Psalms of David. With the help of this capable interpreter, we will experience a uniquely beautiful piece of work that successfully blends Italian and German Baroque styles.