ICE CLASSIC: ALEKSANDRA KURZAK WILL SING AT ICE KRAKÓW
On the 9th of October, ICE Kraków will host a performance by a star of world opera stages, the most beautiful Polish soprano – Aleksandra Kurzak. The artist, called the Slavic Maria Callas, who performs on the most prestigious stages of the world – the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden) in London – is rarely heard in Poland. The exclusive Krakow concert will comprise of the most beautiful arias that illustrate the vocal perfection and outstanding operatic roles of the artist. The singer will be accompanied by the Beethoven Academy Orchestra under the baton of Lebanese-Polish conductor, Bassem Akiki. The concert is the preview of the new ICE Classic cycle, the details of which will be revealed to music lovers later this autumn. Tickets to the concert will be on sale beginning on Wednesday, 24.06.2015.
“I am very proud that an artist of Aleksanda Kurzak’s renown, whose calendar is full for the next five years, accepted our invitation and agreed to appear at the ICE Kraków Congress Centre,” said Izabela Helbin, director of the Krakow Festival Office, which is the organiser of this incredible operatic concert.
Aleksanda Kurzak – a star of international renown, the world’s most famous Polish opera singer, a soprano of the highest quality. She was the first Polish woman in history to sign an exclusive recording contract with the Decca Classics label. In 2009, she received her doctorate in musical arts.
In her private life, she is connected with the famous French-Italian tenor Roberto Alagna, whom she met in 2012 during work on Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amoreo at the Royal Opera House. They have an 18-month old daughter, Malena, and they live alternately in Warsaw and near Paris.
She was born in Brzeg Dolny on 7th August 1977. She was raised in Wrocław, in a family of musicians: her mother, Jolanta Żmurko, is a soprano soloist of the Wrocław Opera. Her father, Ryszard Kurzak, plays the French horn and is a lecturer at the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław. As a little girl, Aleksandra often spent time back stage at the opera, and knew many arias by heart. At 7 years old, she began to learn to play the violin and the piano. She graduated from the violin class at the Karol Szymanowski Primary and Secondary Music School in Wrocław. Her mother was her first singing teacher, and she made the decision to apply to the Vocal Faculty of the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław shortly before her secondary school final examinations. She graduated with distinction, and continued her education at the Hochschole für Musik und Theater in Hamburg and at the International Opera Studio of the Hamburg State Opera.
She appeared on stage for the first time as Susanna in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, at the Wrocław Opera with her mother, Jolanta Żmurko. From 2001 to 2007, she was associated with the Staatsoper in Hamburg, during the first two seasons at the International Opera Studio, and later as a soloist. In 2004, she made her debut on two of the most prestigious opera stages of the world: the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London. She has appeared on stage at the greatest opera theatres, including Wiener Staatsoper, Theater an der Wien, Opera Bastille in Paris, Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Deutsche Staatsoper and Deutsche Oper in Berlin, Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, Opernhaus in Zurich, Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Teatro Regio di Torino, Arena di Verona, Lyric Opera House in Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, Teatro Real in Madrid, Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, as well as during the Salzburg Festival.
Aleksandra Kurzak is the laureate of vocal competitions in Warsaw, Helsinki, Barcelona and Guangzhou, as well as the winner of many prestigious awards. She is a two-time recipient of the Minister of Culture and Art stipend, as well as the Aleksander Gudzowaty Crescendum Est-Polonia foundation stipend. She has also received awards from the Mayor of Wrocław, the Voivode of the Dolnośląskie Voivodeship, as well as the Wrocław Music Award. In 2015, she received the International Opera Awards 2015 and the Bachtrack Opera Award, becoming the best singer of the past season.
“What impresses in Kurzak’s roles is above all the lightness and joy in her singing. This lightness stems from a precisely prepared workshop. Impeccable diction, playing with emotions, juggling moods – Kurzak is convincing in every role, regardless of where it is tragic or playfully seductive. And at the same time, she never loses any of her charm.”
Jacek Hawryluk, Gazeta Wyborcza
“Only one singer in thousands can show off such a range of expression. The flexible, free coloratura, and the ability to journey beyond the high C and remain at a piano volume, the strength and resonance of the voice along the entire scale, the drama and ability to use noisy timbre that borders of recitation – all of it fused together with countless shades that connect the extremes into a magnificent whole.”
ICE Classic – a new brand of culture
Aleksandra Kurzak’s classical aria concert heralds a new brand of culture, an exceptional series of classical music concerts – ICE Classic. They are intended to fill the time between the key Krakow festivals and ensure artistic sensations at the highest world level. All concerts in the cycle will take place at the ICE Kraków Congress Centre.
“Thanks to the opening of ICE Kraków, we finally have a concert space that seats nearly 2000 people, and has excellent technical facilities and high acoustic value. It allows us to join the many important musical stages of Europe and present artists who were previously not available for Krakow organisers,” said Izabela Helbin, director of the Krakow Festival Office. Thanks to the ICE Classic brand, we will be able to host the most acclaimed performers of international renown in our city. We will be focusing mainly on a repertoire from the 19th and 20th centuries, excellent soloists of the opera stage, instrumentalists and world-class orchestras and conductors.”
Tickets to Aleksandra Kurzak’s concert in the ICE Classic series, will be available from 100 to 250 PLN, starting on 24 June 2015, through the www.eventim.pl portal, as well as selected city information points InfoKraków. Detailed information about the tickets is available at www.icekrakow.pl and www.biurofestiwalowe.pl.
Aleksandra Kurzak – The most beautiful opera arias
with Aleksandra Kurzak, Beethoven Academy Orchestra, Bassem Akiki
Marii Konopnickiej 17
The concert is organised by the KRAKOW FESTIVAL OFFICE
Bassem Akiki – conductor, born in Lebanon, since 2014 also holder of a Polish citizenship, works with many orchestras and musical theatres. His enormous energy, musical passion and precision in his artistic work are valued both by audiences and critics, as well as individual musical ensembles. Bassem Akiki studied at the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music in Beirut, simultaneously in the oboe class of Prof. E. Kupélian and in the vocal class of Dr. R. Reeb. At the same time, he studied philosophy at the Lebanese International University in Beirut. In 2003, he commenced Master’s studies at the Composition, Interpretation and Musical Education Faculty of the Cracow Music Academy (choral conducting with Prof. S Krawczyński), graduating with honours in 2008. In 2010, he graduated with an “excellent” result from the master’s class in conducting under Prof. M. Pijarowski at the Academy of Music in Wrocław.
Bassem Akiki’s musical interests are focused on the music of the West and East: their mutual influence was the subject of the lectures the artist conducted in 2007–2009 at the Philips University in Marburg (Germany). His education in the field of philosophy allowed Bassem Akiki to analyse the relation between philosophy and music. After preparing a master’s thesis about the relations between Richard Wagner, Friedrich Nietzsche and Richard Strauss, the conductor wrote and defended a doctoral dissertation titled Anthropocentrism and Theocentrism in the Music of the 21st Century on the Example of Peter Eötvös’ Opera Angels in America. The opera was first performed in Poland with Akiki conducting, as part of the Contemporary Opera Festival in October 2012 in Wrocław.
In 2007, while still studying, Bassem Akiki made his conducting debut, appearing along with the Wrocław Opera ensemble in a performance of Verdi’s La Traviata. He has a rich symphonic repertoire and has directed such works as Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute; Verdi’s La Traviata, Rigoletto, Joanna d’Arc, Falstaff; Bizet’s Carmen; Orefice’s Chopin; R. Strauss’ The Woman Without a Shadow; Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann; Puccini’s Turandot; Musorgski’s Borys Godunow; Kulenty’s The Mother of Black-Winged Dreams and Knapik’s La libertà chiama la libertà.
In 2012, he prepared and led the world-premiere preview of the opera Slow Man (N. Lens/J.M. Coetzee) at Teatr Wielki in Poznań. In 2013, he made his debut at the Grand Theatre — National Opera, conducting spectacles of Verdi’s Nabucco, Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. In 2014, he debuted at the La Monnaie Theatre in Brussels with the premiere of Shell Shock (N. Lens/ N. Cave).
Bassem Akiki works with numerous orchestras and artistic ensembles in Lebanon, Poland, France, Italy, the US and Canada.
The Beethoven Academy Orchestra is the leading Polish symphonic ensemble of the younger generation. It is made up of passionate people – the best students and graduates of European music universities, including the Academy of Music in Krakow, Hochschule Für Musik Und Darstellende Kunst in Stuttgaart, Hochschule für Musik in Karlsruhe and Royal Music Conservatoire in Brussels. To date, the ensemble has recorded 17 albums for such labels as DUX Poland, Centaur Records UA, Le Foxx Music and Universal Music. The group has also signed a contract with the renowned publishing house EMI London KPM. The Beethoven Academy Orchestra plays pop and film music as successfully as classical pieces. Their portfolio contains soundtrack recordings for such giants as Warner Bros and Monolith, as well as collaboration with composers such as Hans Zimmer, Elliot Goldenthal, Michał Lorenc and Jan A.P. Kaczmarek. Currently, the Beethoven Academy Orchestra is playing national and international concerts as part of the 6th edition of their “More Polish Music” cycle promoting forgotten Polish music, carried out under the patronage of the Małopolskie Voivodeship, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, as well as local governments. Additionally, thanks to the cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and the Krakow Academy of Music, the ensemble is organizing the 4th edition of the International Conducting Master’s Courses. Since November 2013, at the invitation of the orchestra artists, the function of first conductor has been held by Maestro Jacek Kaspszyk