The Zurich Opera Orchestra was created following the division of the venerable Tonhalle and Theatre Orchestra in 1985. In 2012, with the beginning of Andreas Homoki’s directorship and the accession of the new General Music Director Fabio Luisi, the Zurich Opera Orchestra became the Philharmonia Zurich.
Each season, the Orchestra can be heard at about 250 opera and ballet performances given by Zurich Opera House. The Philharmonic Concerts are also organised as a podium for the concert repertoire. Soirées and chamber music matinees complete the Orchestra’s artistic spectrum.
Before Fabio Luisi took over artistic direction of the Orchestra at the beginning of the 2012/13 season, his predecessors had included Franz Welser-Möst (1995–2008, General Music Director from 2005), and most recently Daniele Gatti as Principal Conductor (2009–2012). In 2000/01, the Zurich Opera Orchestra’s consistency and versatility were rewarded with extensive international recognition when it was voted “Orchestra of the Year” in a survey conducted by Opernwelt magazine.
Many renowned conductors, such as Riccardo Chailly, Christoph von Dohnányi, Vladimir Fedoseyev, John Eliot Gardiner, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Heinz Holliger, Zubin Mehta, Ingo Metzmacher, Georges Prêtre, Nello Santi, Ralf Weikert and many others come to Zurich regularly to work with the Orchestra on opera and/or concert performances. The Orchestra can also frequently be heard abroad, including performances at the Musikverein in Vienna, the Alte Oper Frankfurt, London’s Royal Festival Hall, and in Tokyo.
One of the Philharmonia Zurich’s special features is the Orchestra La Scintilla, a period instrument ensemble consisting of musicians from the Philharmonia Zurich that enriches Zurich’s cultural scene with its opera performances on historic instruments. It emerged from the Orchestra’s long-standing collaboration with Nikolaus Harnoncourt. The Orchestra La Scintilla works with conductors like William Christie, Thomas Hengelbrock and Marc Minkowski. Under the direction of Ada Pesch it can be heard regularly in the world’s great concert halls, and performs with renowned soloists such as Cecilia Bartoli, whom it has accompanied on concert tours lasting several weeks.
Throughout the musical spectrum, from baroque to contemporary works, the Philharmonia Zurich consistently proves itself to be a stylistically confident, dedicated orchestra – whether in the pit or on the concert stage.
Fabio Luisi, General Music Director of Zurich Opera House, hails from Genoa. In 2011 he was appointed Principal Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, after having already acted as Principal Guest Conductor since September 2010. He has been Principal Conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra since 2005 (until 2013).
Fabio Luisi was previously General Music Director of the Staatskapelle Dresden and the Saxon State Opera (2007–2010), Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the MDR Symphony Orchestra Leipzig (1999–2007), Musical Director of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (1997–2002), with which he recorded numerous CDs (Poulenc, Respighi, Mahler, Liszt, a recording of all the symphonic works of Arthur Honegger, and with Verdi’s Jérusalem and Alzira two operas), Principal Conductor of the Tonkünstler Orchester Wien (Vienna, 1995–2000), and Artistic Director of the Graz Symphony Orchestra (1990–1996).
Luisi has performed as a guest conductor with the following internationally renowned orchestras: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Philharmonia London, NHK Symphony Tokyo, Munich Philharmonic, Santa Cecilia Orchestra, Rome, and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. He is also a frequent guest at the Vienna State Opera, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Staatsoper Berlin. In 2002 he débuted at the Salzburg Festival with Richard Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae and returned there the following year with Die Ägyptische Helena by the same composer. Luisi gave his début in the United States in 2000 at a concert with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, followed by a new production of Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Lyric Opera Chicago. He conducted at the Metropolitan Opera for the first time in 2005 (Verdi’s Don Carlo).
In 2011, Fabio Luisi conducted new productions of Don Giovanni, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung (2012) at the Metropolitan Opera, as well as Das Rheingold, Ariadne auf Naxos and Rigoletto. He conducted the Met’s productions of Don Carlo and La Bohème during a tour of Japan. He débuted at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden with Aida, and at the Gran Teatre de Liceu in Barcelona with Falstaff. He also conducted a tour of the United States with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and conducted concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Concertgebouw Orchestra (with which he gave guest performances at the Gustav Mahler Festival in Leipzig), the Cleveland Orchestra, and a production of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci at the Teatro Carlo Felice in his hometown of Genoa. In the coming months he will conduct a new production of Massenet’s Manon at the Met, and give his début with this opera at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.
Luisi’s CD recordings include Verdi’s Aroldo, Bellini’s I puritani, as well as all the symphonies and the oratorio Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln by the forgotten Austrian composer Franz Schmidt. There are also recordings of various symphonic poems by Richard Strauss and a much-lauded recording (Echo Classics Prize 2009 for the best symphonic recording of the year) of Bruckner’s 9th Symphony with the Staatskapelle Dresden.
Orchestra office Luis Perandones Lozano, Jarmila Jelinek
Assistant to the General Music Director Marie Wolfram-Zweig
Library Anja Bühnemann
Orchestra technician Daniel Gütler, Thomas Bossart, Milan Mares, Markus Metzig
Concertmeister Bartlomiej Niziol, Ada Pesch, Hanna Weinmeister, Keisuke Okazaki, Xiaoming Wang
Jonathan Allen, Christian Barenius, Josiane Clematide, Franziska Eichenberger, Juliana Georgieva, Lisa Gustafson, Betül Henseler, Ulrike Jacoby, Martin Lehmann, Judit Morvay, Jakub Nicze, Tatjana Pak, Seraina Pfenninger, Dominique Schiess, Janet van Hasselt, Laurent Weibel
Solo Anahit Kurtikyan, Eoin Andersen, Michael Salm
Hermann Alexejew, Yuko Arakaki-Krachler, Marianne Borling, Andrea Bossow, Cornelia Brandis, Martina Goldmann, Regine Guthauser, Daniel Kagerer, Nadezhda Korshakova, Anne-Frédérique Léchaire, Sibylle Matzinger-Franzke, Ursula Meienberg, Marina Yakovleva Häfliger, Chen Yu
Solo Karen Forster, Valérie Szlàvik, Sebastian Eyb, Rumjana Naydenova
Louis Chaintreuil, Agnes Gyimesi, Daniel Hess, Florian Mohr, Natalia Mosca, Juliet Shaxson, Martina Zimmermann
Solo Claudius Herrmann, Massimiliano Martinelli, Christine Theus, Xavier Pignat
Luzius Gartmann, Christof Mohr, Barbara Uta Oehm, Daniel Pezzotti, Andreas Plattner
Solo Viorel Alexandru, Dariusz Mizera, Ruslan Lutsyk, Roman Patkoló
Wolfgang Hessler, Hayk Khachatryan, Dieter Lange, Bruno Peier
Solo Maria Goldschmidt, Maurice Heugen
Thomas Voelcker, Pamela Stahel, Andrea Kollé
Solo Bernhard Heinrichs, Philipp Mahrenholz
Samuel Castro Bastos, Maria Alba Carmona Tobella, Clément Noël
Solo Rita Meier, Robert Pickup
Heinrich Mätzener, Nina Sara Höhn
Solo Urs Dengler, Anne Gerstenberger
Artan Hürsever, Elisabeth Göring, Marc Jacot
Solo Glen Borling, László Szlávik
Tomas Gallart, Hanna Rasche, Edward Deskur, Niklaus Frisch, Andrea Siri
Solo William Nulty, Laurent Tinguely
Evgeny Ruzin, Albert Benz, Paul Muff
Solo Sergio Zordan, David García
Benjamin Green, René Meister
Anne Jelle Visser
Norbert Himstedt, Renata Walczyna
Hans-Peter Achberger, Michael Guntern, Dominic Hermann, Didier Vogel
Julie Palloc, Una Prelle
The Orchestra of Zurich Opera changed its name at the beginning of the new season. This decision should be understood as a point of departure. Our orchestra intends to consolidate its first-class reputation as an opera orchestra at its evening performances at the Opera House, and at the same time to raise its profile as a concert orchestra. General Music Director Fabio Luisi has decided to intensify the orchestra’s work on the symphonic repertoire and then to present the artistic results increasingly outside the City of Zurich. In order to facilitate perception of the orchestra beyond Switzerland’s borders and better to position itself at international guest performances, in future the Orchestra will perform under the name Philharmonia Zurich.
With a new name, as of the 2012/13 season our Philharmonic Concerts will, for the first time, also have a thematic focus: as a central theme, our programmes will all feature works by Robert Schumann. Fabio Luisi himself will direct four of the seven philharmonic concerts. Schumann’s splendid oratorio, Das Paradies und die Peri, will provide the grand finale of this concert season.