Christian Thielemann has been principal conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden since autumn 2012 and artistic director of the Salzburg Easter Festival since 2013. He previously was general music director of the Munich Philharmonic from 2004 to 2011. Thielemann studied at the Hochschule der Künste (Academy of Arts) in his native Berlin before gaining a thorough grounding in conducting at smaller theatres in Germany. His first major appointment was as principal conductor at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, where he spent three seasons prior to his appointment as general music director of Nuremberg Opera. He held a similar post with the Deutsche Oper in Berlin from 1997 to 2004. Thielemann has built up an international reputation for himself, appearing with many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras and with opera companies throughout Europe, North America and Japan. As a guest conductor he is particularly closely associated with the Vienna Philharmonic and the Bayreuth Festival where he has been a regular conductor since his debut in the summer of 2000 (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg). He was named musical adviser of the festival in 2010 and its music director in 2015. The principal pillars of Christian Thielemann’s broad repertoire are the works of the Classical and Romantic periods as well as the music of Hans Werner Henze. Made an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London in 2011, he has also been awarded honorary doctorates by the Franz Liszt College of Music in Weimar and the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium). In May 2015 he was awarded the Richard Wagner prize by the Richard Wagner Society of the city of Leipzig. Thielemann first appeared with the Berliner Philharmoniker in 1996 and has returned many times since then, most recently in December 2016, when he conducted works by Beethoven and Bruckner.
Luba Orgonášová, born in Bratislava (Slovakia), is one of the leading interpreters of lyrical roles in German and Italian opera and the concert repertoire. She studied piano and singing in her hometown, before beginning to perform in Germany. In 1988, Luba Orgonášová was offered a three-year contract as a guest artist with the Wiener Volksoper. Shortly afterwards, she made her debut at the Vienna State Opera as Pamina (Die Zauberflöte). In 1990, the soprano had great success with her debut at the Salzburg Easter and Summer Festivals as Marcellina in a new production of Fidelio, which was conducted by Kurt Masur. The same year she made her role debut as Konstanze in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail in Paris. Since then, Luba Orgonášová has performed regularly on the stages of the most prestigious opera houses and concert halls around the world, working not only with top international orchestras, but also with major ensembles and specialists in the field of historical performance practice. Luba Orgonášová first appeared with the Berliner Philharmoniker in September 1995, singing the role of Agathe in concert performances of Weber’s Der Freischütz, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Most recently, in September 2013, the artist was heard as a soloist with the orchestra in three concerts conducted by Sir Simon Rattle with Leoš Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass. Since autumn 2014, Luba Orgonášová holds a professorship at Zurich’s University of the Arts.
Elisabeth Kulman received her training at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna under Helena Łazarska. In 2001 she made her debut as Pamina at the Volksoper Wien and enjoyed initial success as a soprano. In 2005, she changed to mezzo-soprano and alto roles. In the ensemble of the Wiener Staatsoper, Elisabeth Kulman quickly became popular with audiences and developed a broad repertoire. Her most important roles include Fricka, Erda and Waltraute (Der Ring des Nibelungen), Carmen, Mrs. Quickly (Falstaff), Brangäne (Tristan and Isolde), Begbick (Mahagonny), Prince Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus) and Marina (Boris Godunov), Since 2010, Elisabeth Kulman has been working as a freelance artist and appears as a guest artist in solo roles in music capitals all over the world, including Vienna, Paris, London, Munich, Berlin, Tokyo, Salzburg, Moscow. She regularly sings with major orchestras and conductors such as Zubin Mehta, Kirill Petrenko, Christian Thielemann, Marek Janowski and Franz Welser-Möst. She had a particularly close working relationship with Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Since 2015, Elisabeth Kulman has concentrated her artistic activities on recitals (together with her accompanist of many years, Eduard Kutrowatz), concerts, and concert performances of operas. She is particularly fond of unconventional projects, such as “Mussorgsky Dis-Covered” with jazz quartet, and her solo programme “La femme c’est moi”, in which she presents pieces from Carmen to the Beatles. In these concerts, Elisabeth Kulman appears with the Berliner Philharmoniker for the first time.
Daniel Behle comes from Hamburg, where he studied trombone, composition and singing at the city’s Hochschule für Musik und Theater. First engagements took the tenor to the Staatstheater Oldenburg, the Volksoper Wien and Oper Frankfurt. His broad repertoire ranges from masterpieces of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic repertoire to compositions from the 20th and 21st centuries. Daniel Behle gives concerts with orchestras including the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, the DSO Berlin, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Santa Cecilia Rome, the Wiener Symphoniker, the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and the Bachakademie Stuttgart. He works with conductors such as Bertrand de Billy, Christoph Eschenbach, Marek Janowski, Ingo Metzmacher, Kent Nagano and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. As a lieder singer, he has performed at the Schwetzinger Festspiele, the Schubertiade, the Prinzregententheater Munich, the Kölner Philharmonie, the Laeiszhalle Hamburg, the Beethovenhaus Bonn, the Wigmore Hall in London and the Alte Oper Frankfurt. He is also active as a composer. In the summer of 2017, Behle made his debut as David in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Bayreuth Festival in a production by Barrie Kosky, conducted by Philippe Jordan. For his portrayal of the villain Artabano in a recording of Vinci’s Artaserse, Daniel Behle was nominated for a Grammy in 2014. Daniel Behle makes his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in these concerts.
Franz-Josef Selig graduated in church music from the Cologne University of Music before changing to the vocal classes there by Claudio Nicolai. Early in his career, he was a member of the ensemble at the Essen Aalto Theatre for six years. Today, the freelance singer appears regularly in opera houses all over the world – such as the Vienna State Opera, La Scala in Milan, Opéra National de Paris and the Metropolitan Opera New York – and at the Aix-en-Provence, Bayreuth and Salzburg festivals in the great bass roles of Gurnemanz, King Marke, Sarastro, Rocco, Osmin, Daland and Fasolt. Franz-Josef Selig has worked with conductors such as Semyon Bychkov, Marek Janowski, Philippe Jordan, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Antonio Pappano and Simon Rattle. Despite his numerous concert and opera engagements, Franz-Joseph Selig finds time for recitals, where he is also to be heard as a member of the ensemble “Liedertafel” together with Markus Schaefer, Christian Elsner and Michael Volle with Gerold Huber at the piano. Numerous CD and DVD productions document the artistic versatility of the singer. The bass made his debut in Berliner Philharmoniker concerts in December 2013 in Robert Schumann’s Scenes from Goethe’s Faust, conducted by Daniel Harding. He last appeared with the orchestra in December 2016 in performances of Bruckner’s F minor Mass, conducted by Christian Thielemann.
The Rundfunkchor Berlin (Berlin Radio Choir) is a regular guest at major festivals and the chosen partner of international orchestras and conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Christian Thielemann and Daniel Barenboim. In Berlin the choir has long-standing partnerships with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester and the Berliner Philharmoniker. The exceptional breadth of its repertoire, its stylistic versatility, delight in experimentation, stunning responsiveness and richly nuanced sound all contribute to making it one of the world’s outstanding choral ensembles. Its work is documented by many recordings and awards, including three Grammy Awards. With its experimental project series, in collaboration with artists from diverse disciplines, the Rundfunkchor Berlin is breaking down the classical concert format and adopting new modes of choral music for a new audience: e.g. the interactive scenic version of Brahms’s German Requiem staged by Jochen Sandig / Sasha Waltz & Guests attracted great attention. With annual activities such as the Sing-along Concert and the “Liederbörse” (Song Exchange) for children and young people or the education programme SING! the choir invites people of various walks of life to the world of singing. Academy and Schola support the next generation of professionals. Founded in 1925 the ensemble was shaped by conductors including Helmut Koch, Dietrich Knothe, Robin Gritton and Simon Halsey (2001–2015). As of the 2015/16 season Gijs Leenars took over as new principal conductor and artistic director. The Rundfunkchor last appeared with the Berliner Philharmoniker in October 2017 in Brahms’s German Requiem conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.