Two Titans of Opera will Ignite Lyric’s ELEKTRA

The leading lady and conductor of Strauss’s Elektra are both making hugely anticipated Lyric debuts. Nina Stemme and Donald Runnicles arrive here as true luminaries of opera, enormously sought after and rapturously acclaimed worldwide. While each is remarkably versatile, it’s in formidably dramatic German repertoire that they’ve become most celebrated.

Nina Stemme

Donald Runnicles

In her native Sweden, Nina Stemme is regarded as a national treasure. The largest prize in the history of classical music, named after her great compatriot and predecessor among dramatic sopranos, the Birgit Nilsson Prize, was awarded to Nina in 2018. She’s a Swedish Court Singer, an Austrian “Kammersängerin,” a former Opernwelt Singer of the Year, and a winner of the Olivier Award, International Opera Award, and Opera News Award.

Those accolades are a richly deserved tribute to Nina’s artistry. She combines a stupendously impressive voice with incomparable musicality and the theatrical instincts that equal those of any great actress you can mention. Onstage Nina devastates her audiences through her overwhelming naturalness that enriches her every phrase and every movement. Her Elektra — a triumph at the Met, Vienna, Berlin, and Munich — has been hailed by The New York Times as “a phenomenon,” with singing “full of abundant power, chilling top notes, and, in moments of doubt, anguished beauty.” 

Donald Runnicles is also a much-honored artist. The Scottish conductor is a recipient of the Order of the British Empire and a 2015 Grammy nominee for Janáček’s Jenůfain the Best Opera Recording category. His 2013 disc of Wagner arias, a collaboration with tenor Jonas Kaufmann, received one of the most coveted prizes in the recording world, the Gramophone Award (Best Vocal Recording category). 

There’s no busier conductor on the international scene than Donald Runicles: he’s general music director of one of Europe’s most distinguished houses, the Deutsche Oper Berlin; music director of the Grand Teton Music Festival; principal guest conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; and conductor emeritus of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. As a guest conductor, he also maintains strong relationships as a guest conductor with many of the world’s most significant opera companies and orchestras. 

The largest-scale works of Wagner and Strauss have long been Maestro Runincles’s specialty in the opera house. He triumphed last season leading San Francisco Opera’s Ring cycle, in which, according to Seen and Heard International, “the star of the show was the guy with a spotlight on him in the orchestra pit. Donald Runnicles shaped the music with breathtaking pulse and attention to both broad sweep and fine details of the score…Communication with the singers on stage resulted in nearly every word reaching the audience without losing an ounce of thrust and sheer richness of sound from the orchestra.”

Stemme and Runnicles are sure to be a white-hot duo in Elektra. Don’t miss them!

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Main photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera