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The Wagner Gala Rocks Abu Dhabi

Musical history is written as the worlds’ famous Bayreuth Orchestra performs in the Middle East for the first time

Under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, the second evening of Abu Dhabi Classics inaugural week saw the celebrated Bayreuth Festival Orchestra performing the ‘Wagner Gala’ to a full house at the Emirates Palace Auditorium. Christian Thielemann, who has been the General Music Director of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra since 2004, conducted a concert of excerpts from Richard Wagner’s Ring. The event was attended by H.E. Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, Vice Chairman of Abu Dhabi Authority for Cultural & Heritage, Ms. Katharina Wagner, the composer’s great-grand daughter and Oscar-winning British actor Jeremy Irons. Other dignitaries such as Ambassadors, CEOs and senior members of society also enjoyed the spectacular concert. The concert of Richard Wagner’s ‘Die Walküre’ Act I, from Götterdämmerung was a major milestone in Abu Dhabi’s mission to become a cultural capital, and closed the first of a series of weekends that the Abu Dhabi Classics season will offer. The unique ensemble, drawn from the finest European orchestra musicians, usually comes together only between June and August during the Bayreuth Festival, making the concert unique for both the artists and the audience. With a waiting time for tickets to the Bayreuth Festival of seven to ten years, the opportunity to enjoy its orchestra at a guest appearance outside of Bayreuth was an experience not to be missed. “Everybody is dying to have them – New York, Moscow, Paris – but they came to Abu Dhabi. They know that Abu Dhabi is very serious about its cultural vision. Having them perform here is a very important signal being sent out to the world,” said Till Janczukowicz, Executive Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Classics. Thielemann’s performances on Wagner’s mature operas as well the works of Richard Strauss have established him as one of the world’s leading conductors and his work on Wagner’s Ring was no exception. A regular guest at the great international opera houses, including London’s Covent Garden Opera, New York’s Metropolitan, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Vienna State Opera and the Bayreuth Festival, where he made his debut in 2000 with ‘Die Meistersinger’, Christian Thielemann transformed an auditorium into an era yet again. Alongside Thielemann, German tenor Endrik Wottrich, mezzo-soprano Petra Lang, Estonian bass Ain Anger and soprano Luana DeVol gave striking vocal performances. All of them have performed in renowned historical opera houses such as: Vienna, Dresden, Milan, Amsterdam and brought to the capital of the Middle East an evening of classical music excellence. In the excitement leading up to the Wagner Gala in the evening, members of the public were invited to a Round Table discussion headed by H.E. Zaki Nusseibeh, Vice Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, Katharina Wagner, the great-grand daughter of the composer and international Wagner specialists, Prof. Volker Mertens & Dr. Ronald Perlwitz, all of whom provided an detailed insight into the World of Wagner. The next chapter in this music season will see Abdullah Ibrahim, South African jazz legend performing ‘African Landscapes’ and the most sought after Italian opera singer Cecilia Bartoli, performing ‘The Romantic Revolution’ on Friday, 21st and Saturday, 22nd November 2008 respectively. Concert tickets are available at Virgin Megastores and can be purchased online at, or by calling the toll free number 800–4669.

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