In mid-December 2016, the pieces by R. Strauss, Verdi, Mozart and Bellini were performed in the Great hall of the Moscow Conservatory. The vocals were performed by people’s artist of Russia Hibla Gerzmava, and the State academic Symphony orchestra of Russia was accompaniyng. The directior was a famous American conductor, Joel Revzen.
“E Vesti” asked the maestro to talk about the works of the new year evening program, and, most importantly, about Russia, cooperation with Hibla and plans for the future.
EV: Could you please tell me about the works that will be performed?
Joel Revzen: The first thing we are going to play is a work of famous composer Richard Strauss. He is known for his great operas, such as “Rosenkavalier”. In addition, Strauss wrote a number of orchestra tone poems. It’s a genre, when a story is described through music. The work is dedicated to the history of Don Quixote, its music based on a poem by by a romantic poet Nicholas Lenau. It is a big orchestral piece. Strauss wrote many of the great pieces that are played just in concert.
This piece would be nice to start with, because, then, Hibla wants to sing the “Four last songs” of Strauss, and the symphonic poem is completely different from the “Four last songs”. He wrote the poem much earlier, and the “Songs” was the last piece before his died. The “Songs” really talk about a person approaching death, and he accepts this reunion with nature with piece. This man is tired after a long life and he is going to rest and fall asleep. And there are the elements of nature used in the music, you hear birds singing and floods. This is one of the best pieces for voice ever written by anyone.
Than we will play a part of an opera for orchestra. This is part of one of the earliest operas of Puccini, it is called “Manon Lescaut”. This is the story about Manon Lescaut, who gets caught by a very wealthy. He is suppporting her and she is living with hin. But she has a lover, a poor student de Grieux. At first they are together, but Manon cannot stand poverty and that is why she goes with the rich man in the second act. But she is so bored, and she wants to be back with de Grieux, because they had passion. She wants it both – passion and money, and this is the main dilemma. Than, de Grier comes back, and they are about to make love, when the old man comes and finds them. He has her imprisoned and sent into exile. He calls the police, and they arrest her. She is accused like being a prostitute. Manon going to be sent into the wilderness on a ship together with the other women accused of prostitution. De Grieux convinces the captain of the ship to let him go too, and they go off together. The part of the opera, that we are going play, is a kind of transition between the time, when Manon is arrested, and the time, when they go off to prison. It’s a wonderful, passionate and hard felt music. It brings the audience from this life with jewels, riches and passion into nothing.
Then, Hibla will sing some arias. She will sing a final aria of Desdemona from the olpera “Otello”. This is the scene when Desdemona knows that Othello will soon come to kill her. He accuses her of being unfaithful, which she never was. The character of the Opera Iago convinces Othello that his wife is unfaithful. Othello is enraged and goes to her. Desdemona knows this somehow, and she is singing in her room a song, which she learned when a child, the “Willow song”. This is a wonderful Aria, and Hibla perfectly sings it. She is a special artist and she is kind of a natural born musical.
EV: Tell me, was it easy to work with Hibla?
Joel Revzen: The first time we met, we prepared a complete version of “Otello”. I conducted, and it was very easy to work with her. Everything was perfect on the first try. Then, I thought I would like to work with her again in the future. Before leaving New York, she told me: “Would you like to participate in this concert with me?”. Of course, I said: “Sure, if I have time.” That’s how we met.
EV: Would you like to work with Hibla in the future?
Joel Revzen: I would like to work with her. I organise a festival in the United States, and I would like to invite her there. She is one of the most unique opera singers I have ever worked with. She is very musical and perfectly sings any note. Besides, she uses the voice very intelligently.
EV: Do you have any plans of playing concerts in Russia?
Joel Revzen: I used to come to Russia many times, it started in 1993. I was working with Anna Netrebko, who was only 25 years old. We also performed “The Damnation of Faust”, “Romeo and Juliet” by Berlioz, and many other things. I was frequently invited by Valery Gergiev to conduct at the Mariinsky theatre. It was about four years ago when I was here for the last time. I also participated in a concert with the Russian National orchestra, and we did a symphonic jazz concert with the Brubeck Quartet. I am ready to come to Russia at any time.
EV: Tell me about your upcoming concerts.
Joel Revzen: I will continue to work at the Metropolitan Opera through April. There I work on five operas in this year. In February-March 2017, we will give “Eugeny Onegin” with Anna Netrebko. Also, I prepared “War and Peace” for the Metropolitan Opera. Then, I will have a festival in Lake Tahoe, this is my symphony festival. Many musicians from the Metropolitan Opera, Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Leipzig “Gewandhaus”, etc, will play there. We are going to give six symphony concerts and three chamber music concerts in three weeks in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Before this festival, another festival in California, “Napa Valley”, will take place. I’ll bring an orchestra from my city on this festival. In between the festivals, I’m going to take pony trekking in Iceland. It is my passion. I really love horses all my life, do horseback riding in Los Angeles and Tuscany.
Sources: Classical Music News