New York Philharmonic to Stage Honegger Oratorio with Marion Cotillard

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The New York Philharmonic said on Wednesday that it will give the U.S. premiere of a staged production of Arthur Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake, starring the Academy Award-winning actress Marion Cotillard, at Avery Fisher Hall in June 2015. The staging of the 1938 dramatic oratorio, by the director Côme de Bellescize, will also include members of the troupe Comédie-Française, and is said to be inspired by a Gothic cathedral square.

Cotillard, who starred in the Edith Piaf biopic “La Vie en Rose,” has played Honegger’s Joan twice before: with the Orléans Orchestra in 2005 and the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra in 2012 (see below). Bellescize first created this production for Japan’s Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto in 2012. The project will be conducted by Alan Gilbert, who is entering his sixth season as music director.

The Honegger production continues the Philharmonic’s recent practice of ending its seasons with large theatrical productions, including last year’s staging of Stravinsky ballets and the 2012 “Philharmonic 360” production at the Park Avenue Armory. The Philharmonic gave the U.S. premiere of Honneger's oratorio in 1948, and last performed it under Kurt Masur in 1994.  

Premieres and Residencies

The Philharmonic’s season announcement, which took place in The Greene Space at WQXR, also detailed plans for several premieres including John Adams's Scheherazade.2, an "exotic" concerto for soloist Leila Josefowicz (March 26–28, 2015); Peter Eötvös’s one-act opera, Senza sangue, to be given its U.S. premiere on May 8–9, 2015 at Avery Fisher Hall; and Thunderstuck, a rock-inspired work by Philharmonic composer-in-residence Christopher Rouse (October 9-11 and 14).

The violinist Lisa Batiashvili (right) will be the new artist in residence; she’ll give the US premiere of Thierry Escaich’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe with her oboist husband François Leleux in April 2015. Also announced is a new three-year artist in association position, given to the young Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan, who’ll make his Philharmonic debut in Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major in March 2015.

Mini-festivals are planned including two programs focusing on Dvořák, conducted by Christoph von Dohnányi in December, and the second installment of “The Art of the Score,” a week of film music in September that includes the opening gala focused on Italian cinema and featuring Joshua Bell, Josh Groban and Renée Fleming (September 16).

After a season that saw few women conductors in New York, next year brings the debut of Finn Susanna Mälkki in a program with Jonathan Biss in Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (May 21–23, 2015).

Shanghai Residency Begins

The Philharmonic’s announcement also included a few new details on its teaching and performance residency in Shanghai, China. As previously announced, the orchestra has established a four-year partnership with the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. It will officially launch this fall with the inaugural class of students who will receive coaching from Philharmonic players, several of which have already traveled to Shanghai to hold auditions (among them, outgoing concertmaster Glenn Dicterow, oboist Liang Wang, principal horn player Philip Meyers and trombonist Joseph Alessi). Students, who receive a full scholarship, will receive coaching from Philharmonic players. 

In July 2015, the orchestra is to return to Shanghai to give five concerts, a Young People’s Concert and further masterclasses and educational seminars. The Philharmonic’s China performance has been several years in the making and comes as other Western orchestras including the Philadelphia Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra are touring the country with greater frequency.

WQXR is a broadcast partner of the New York Philharmonic.

Below is an excerpt of Marion Cotillard playing Joan of Arc in Barcelona:

Photo: Anja Frers