Mefistofele, Baden-Baden 2016
Letter from conductor Stefan Soltesz
Many thanks for the superb performance! Working with you has been one of the most enjoyable and artistically rewarding experiences of my by now very long career as a conductor. Kindest regards, Stefan Soltesz
Letter from director Philipp Himmelmann
Dear Walter, I have very happy memories of our intensive and enjoyable collaboration on "Mefistofele" in Baden-Baden and "Elisir d'amore" in Sankt Margarethen. It was a great pleasure for me to work on two such different productions one after the other with a truly motivated, well-rehearsed and enthusiastic chorus. Best wishes to everyone, Philipp
Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Michael Stallknecht
The Vienna Philharmonia Chorus are capable of producing such a mighty, homogeneous sound that they already receive applause for the scene where they appear as angels. As the forces of darkness – "We dance on the rack and ruin of the world" – they go on to unleash an almost apocalyptic dimension. Musically at least, the performance is truly heaven on earth.
focus, Hamburger Abendblatt, Musik Heute
The Vienna Philharmonia Chorus brilliantly mastered the highly demanding choral part.
The Vienna Philharmonia Chorus gave us singing of absolutely glorious amplitude. In their final scene they were placed in the highest balcony, behind the audience, thereby bathing the theatre in a magnificent glow of choral sound. Yes, there were a few occasions where there were a couple of individual voices sticking out and yes, there were a few isolated incidents where the sopranos were flat. But to hear singing of this quality, far from the war of vibratos we are routinely subjected to in some other theatres, was such a pleasure. The youthful tone was extremely well integrated, the tuning in those tricky unaccompanied passages absolutely spot-on and the rhythm impeccably even. The massive sound they gave us was absolutely overwhelming.
(...) impeccably sung chorus scenes.
online Merker, Alexander Walther
The wonderful Vienna Philharmonia Chorus in particular, splendidly rehearsed by Walter Zeh, does an outstanding job. These "Falangi celesti", the heavenly hosts of angels, receive Mefistofele with a spine-tingling "Ave Signore" in luminous E major.
La Scène Opéra, Michel Thomé
Stefan Soltesz assure une parfaite mise en place, en obtient des tutti orgiaques comme de délicates textures sonores, soigne rythmique et équilibres. Mais la réussite de ce spectacle — et accueilli comme tel par le public avec des hurlements de satisfaction — ne serait pas complète sans la fantastique prestation du Philharmonia Chor de Vienne, complété par le chœur d’enfants Cantus Juvenum de Karlsruhe à la justesse impeccable. Bien que fortement mis à contribution par la partition, ils assurent avec brio par leur implication scénique, leurs qualités de puissance sans jamais se désunir, leurs capacités de variété dans les couleurs, des embrasements de fins d’actes absolument sidérants.
Magazin Klassik.com, Tobias Pfleger
The chorus scenes, which in 'Mefistofele' unquestionably play a crucial role in the success or otherwise of the evening, were superbly performed by the magnificent Vienna Philharmonia Chorus, who were precise and showed the necessary agility in the dynamic passages.
Pamina, Christine Gehringer
Even so, the true starring role in this opera is played by the chorus with its big massed scenes, where the ethereal choirs of angels contrast with the monumental and devilishly demanding choral fugue ("Sabba, Sabboe") on Walpurgis Night. The Vienna Philharmonia Chorus is a marvellous ensemble.
dpa, Martin Roeber
The Vienna Philharmonia Chorus and the Karlsruhe children's choir Cantus Juvenum brilliantly mastered the highly demanding choral part.
La Scène Opéra, Michel Thomé
But the finishing touch that sealed the success of this show – and recognised as such by the delighted cheers from the audience – was the amazing performance by the Vienna Philharmonia Chorus, impeccably and harmoniously complemented by the children's choir Cantus Juvenum Karlsruhe. Despite the hugely demanding score, their dramatic engagement, charisma, perfect unity and mastery of colour changes brilliantly underpinned the simply mind-boggling conflagrations of the finale.
The Prologue in the Heavens is one of the longest scenes in the opera, so indefatigable in their exultations are the various regiments of the heavenly host of angels (the Vienna Philharmonia Chorus, coached by Walter Zeh). They emerge through the lametta curtain on the ramp, rejoicing and jubilating as they spiral upwards through the golden E major chords to proclaim the glory of God.
... it is the choruses to whom the most eulogistic praise should be addressed: the Vienna Philharmonia Chorus are quite simply amazing.
Maestro Stefan Soltesz led a brilliant performance by the Vienna Philharmonia Chorus.
Oper! Das Magazin, Sven Scherz-Schade
A hymn of praise to the chorus! Seldom has one heard such a magnificent sea of voices surging between heaven and hell. In Arrigo Boito's great opera "Mefistofele" , two vast realms of sound are sketched out right from the start in the Prologue, oscillating between good and evil as Doctor Faust bargains over his fate and the redemption of his soul. In Philipp Himmelmann's production at Baden-Baden, the Vienna Philharmonia Chorus (coached by Walter Zeh), framed by sparkling lametta, gave an emphatic, melodious and dynamically well-balanced portrayal of the two opposing camps.