Brilliant, rich in nuances, slender – Marlis Petersen has a soprano with which she effortlessly achieves the balance between enchanting singing and expressive eloquence. She is one of the leading dramatic singers of our time, with good reason. She has performed in concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker only once until now; during the past season she also appeared with the Coro e Orchestra Ghislieri in the Philharmonie concert series Originalklang (Original Sounds). This season we will have the opportunity to experience the soprano from very different artistic perspectives as Artist in Residence.
“The residency with the Berliner Philharmoniker is a great honour for me,” says Marlis Petersen. “At the same time it is a musical thank you from Kirill Petrenko for our previous work together. I’m very touched by that.” The fruitfulness of this collaboration is reflected in the fact that she will make her debut in the role of Salome under Petrenko at the Bavarian State Opera in June 2019, thus adding another fascinating female character to her operatic roles, which range from George Frideric Handel’s Alcina to Aribert Reimann’s Medea. What the singer loves about her work is examining the motives of her heroines, questioning why they reacted in one way and not another.
From Lulu to Leonore
The pivotal role of her career thus far was Alban Berg’s vocally and emotionally challenging Lulu, which brought her international breakthrough. She sang the role at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the State Operas in Vienna, Hamburg and Munich as well as other venues. The psychology of this figure, with all her disturbing contradictions, has deeply entrenched itself in her, says Marlis Petersen, and has not let go of her to this day – although in the meantime she no longer sings the part on the opera stage. She will again explore various aspects of this figure for the Philharmonie audience as the soloist in Berg’s Lulu Suite at the opening concert of the season. She makes her debut as Artist in Residence with the Suite and the soprano solo in Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
Another role debut is on the agenda for the soprano during her residency: Leonore in Beethoven’s opera Fidelio, which will be presented in a new production conducted by Kirill Petrenko at the Easter Festival in Baden-Baden, followed by concert performances in Berlin. As Leonore, Marlis Petersen will portray the woman who became the symbol of the fidelity of conjugal love in operatic history. A rather old-fashioned image of the role? “Not at all,” says Marlis Petersen. “Leonore is a woman who knows her goals, does her utmost to achieve them and in the process is neither deterred by danger nor overcome by fears. She is capable of love beyond time and space and believes in herself – and love! Beethoven’s music traverses extremes – from the most intimate feelings to aggressive drama. That demands a great emotional and vocal range from the interpreter.”
From the Otherworld
The residency also comprises a series of chamber concerts, beginning with a song recital in which Marlis Petersen and her piano accompanist Camillo Radicke transport listeners to the mysterious world of elves, water sprites and other forest creatures with songs by Johannes Brahms, Edvard Grieg, Hugo Wolf, Hans Pfitzner, Alexander Zemlinsky and other composers under the theme “Anderswelt” (Otherworld). In addition, she will appear with the scholars of the Karajan Academy and members of the Berliner Philharmoniker.