The Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra performing at a recent show at the Cultural Village Opera House.
DOHA: Music director Michalis Economou will conduct the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra in Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic suite, Scheherazade, at the Katara Cultural Village Opera House on February 11 at 7:30 pm.
The brilliantly-orchestrated work evokes tales from One Thousand and One Nights, the collection of Arabic folk stories from the Islamic Golden Age. At the start of the programme the Philharmonic will be joined by soprano Felicitas Fuchs and bass Dmitri Kavrakos in overtures and arias from two operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni.
Rimsky-Korsakov was one of a group of composers known as The Five, who brought Russian music from its infancy to sudden flowering. Largely self-taught, he became such a master of orchestral composition that his textbook on orchestration is still in publication today.
Common to all members of The Five was a fascination with the Middle East. The movement titles of Scheherazade hint at stories from One Thousand and One Nights: The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship, The Story of the Kalendar Prince, The Young Prince and The Young Princess, and Festival at Baghdad. In a thread that runs through the piece, concertmaster Eugen Bold will play a series of difficult violin solos depicting the storyteller, Scheherazade.
Dimitri Kavrakos is one of opera’s most sought-after basses. He appears regularly on the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Royal Opera Covent Garden, the Paris Opera and La Scala Milan. German Soprano Felicitas Fuchs has appeared on numerous occasions with the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, including last weekend’s Greatest Hits in Classical Music, Magic Flute, Hansel and Gretel, as well as Mozart arias under the baton of James Gaffigan. She also joined the Philharmonic at the UNESCO Hall in Paris.
“Audiences love Scheherazade with good reason,” says Kurt Meister, executive director of the Qatar Philharmonic. “Rimsky-Korsakov was unequalled in creating an exotic atmosphere. His generation of composers brought Russian folk music into the symphony orchestra. In the same way, the Philharmonic regularly performs compositions from the Middle East that are developing Arabic music in new ways.”
The next performance of the Qatar Philharmonic will be chamber music including Franz Schubert’s Trout Quintet on February 15. On February 18, 19 and 10, the full Philharmonic performs the world premiere of Marcel Khalifé’s Return Symphony.
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