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De Caluwe's smartest new appointment, it would seem, has been that of Mark Wigglesworth as La Monnaie's new Music Director and his principal colleague over the coming seasons. A Royal Academy of Music graduate, Wigglesworth was at that point in the Netherlands when he won the Kondrashin conducting competition in 1989, aged twenty five, and cut his teeth with Opera Factory (the Mozart/da Ponte trilogy, starting in 1991) before making appearances at all the principal English opera houses.

He has since conducted many of the major American orchestras, including Cleveland, New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Minnesota, Detroit, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, in addition to the Concertgebouw and the Berlin Philharmonic, as well as orchestras in Oslo and Stockholm, Tel Aviv and Budapest. Having conducted Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District for English National Opera, he is currently recording all Shostakovich's symphonies with the Netherland Radio Philharmonic in Holland. He conducted The Rake's Progress and Elektra for Welsh National Opera -- he was at that point chief conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales -- and returned there in 2006 to conduct Tristan and Isolde. He also oversaw the Netherlands Opera's Peter Grimes, and in 2005 made his Metropolitan Opera début, conducting The Marriage of Figaro.

The pairing of de Caluwe and Wigglesworth ought to be, and could well turn out to be, an ideal partnership: still youthful, but informed by ample experience; bold, thrusting, musically sound and visionary in concept.

Wigglesworth and his predecessor, the outgoing Japanese maestro Kazushi Ono, share much of the conducting this year, with Wigglesworth launching the season with four much-heralded concert performances (the fourth being given in Amsterdam) of Schoenberg's Gurrelieder -- this event was doubly sensational, due to the appearances of German soprano Anne Schwanewilms as Tove and Brigitte Fassbaender as the Speaker, and for the use of video projections -- besides assuming the helm for the Mozart Requiem and early season performances of Robert Carsen's acclaimed new staging of Mitridate.

Mark Wigglesworth, the new Music Director of La Monnaie, who takes over from Kazushi Ono in 2008
Mark Wigglesworth, the new Music Director of La Monnaie, who takes over from Kazushi Ono in 2008

Later this month Wigglesworth will take musical charge of David Freeman's new production of Wozzeck, which runs at La Monnaie from 26 February through to 12 March 2008. Berg's opera is one of several 20th century and contemporary works being mounted in Brussels, in addition to Henze's Phaedra. November saw a staging of Avis de Tempête by Xenakis' pupil and fellow-Greek, the French composer Georges Aperghis (born 1945), a co-staging with Lille and Nancy, with a text drawing on Shakespeare, Baudelaire, Hugo, Kafka and Hermann Melville; while April will witness the world première of La Lumiere Antigone, a new three-act chamber opera by Belgian composer Pierre Bartholomée (born 1937), starring two of La Monnaie's most popular singers, Mireille Delunsch and Natascha Petrinsky.

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Copyright © 17 February 2008 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry UK


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