The Orchestra of Fondazione Arena di Verona for young Santonja's debut

Thirty year-old Jaume Santonja, from Catalan, who trained between Spain and England, has been the assistant of today's great masters, and has just been appointed Principal Guest Conductor in Milan, conducts 85 of the Fondazione musicians in three pages dense with Strauss, featuring symphonic poems and opera pieces

6th Concerto 

Music by Richard Strauss 

Jaume Santonja Director


Friday 21 April - 8:00 p.m.

Saturday 22 April - 5:00 p.m.



This weekend's concert in Verona presents, with an impressive ensemble, a journey through the compositional styles of Bavarian composer Richard Strauss (1864-1948): son of the first horn of the Munich Court Theatre Orchestra, he was an enfant prodige, pianist, composer, conductor, the greatest author of symphonic poems at the end of the 19th century, then the greatest opera composer of the first half of the 20th century, perhaps the only true 'rival' of Puccini. 

We begin with what was his first, and most tormentingly reworked, symphonic poem: Macbeth (1886-'92), never performed in the seasons at the Filarmonico. The inspiration, of course, is the darkest of Shakespeare's tragedies: respect for the literary source drove the exuberant Strauss to produce a rigorous composition, perhaps less adventurous than the grand orchestral gestures of his contemporaries Don Juan and Death and Transfiguration. The twenty-minute piece (which will be performed in its third and final version), is dense and compact,and it is structured around the development of two main themes, representing the protagonist and his Lady.

Even rarer is the performance of the short symphonic fragment from the opera Feuersnot (1901), referred to as the Love Scene: that of the protagonist Kunrad, who, on the night of Midsummer Solstice, falls in love with Diemut, the mayor's daughter, and seduces her. The opera, inspired in subject matter and atmosphere by Wagner's Master Singers, is Strauss's second youthful venture into musical theatre. The revolutionary scope of his works would come with later titles, starting with the expressionist pieces Salome (from Wilde) and Elektra (first collaboration with Hugo von Hofmannsthal).    

The most successful result of his collaboration with Hofmannsthal came in 1911 with The Knight of the Rose (Der Rosenkavalier), from which the extensive Suite for orchestra op. 59 is proposed, a kind of orchestral summary with the opera's most famous themes in an almost narrative sequence: the incipit of the horns, the presentation of the rose, Baron Ochs' waltz, the terzetto and the waltz of the final act, skilfully woven together by Strauss with fine orchestration. Indeed, the musical comedy feature countless plays of timbre, telling an imaginary story of the golden 1700s with the modern waltz and the indolent nostalgia of finis Austriae. 

Conducting the ambitious monographic programme, which involves eighty-five professors from the Orchestra of the Fondazione Arena di Verona, is the young Jaume Santonja, a thirty-year-old percussionist, who trained as a conductor between his native Spain, the Netherlands and England, his adoptive home, where he was an assistant for a long time in Birmingham. For the past few months he has been Principal Guest Conductor at the Milan Symphonic Orchestra and with this concert he makes his debut in Verona. Every week, the Veronese Symphonic Spring Season explores great music from the Baroque to the contemporary age with today's great performers and internationally renowned young talents. The 6th concerto is dedicated to the memory of Franco Serpa (1931-2022), a distinguished musicologist and academic who devoted many of his writings to the study of Richard Strauss's operas, also with original texts for the Fondazione Arena di Verona's theatre programmes. 

The 6th Symphonic Concerto debuts on Friday 21 April at 8pm and is repeated on Saturday 22 April at 5pm. You can buy single tickets and explore Verona's rich symphonic spring season with the new 3-evening mini-ticket books at the link 



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