Three composers are united around the transcendental theme of human death. This theme inspired Mahler, Shostakovich and Wagner to compose pages of subdued music and overwhelming sounds. The Kindertotenlieder (Mahler, 1901 to 1904) is a song cycle based on poems by Friedrich Ruckert. Each illuminates a different aspect of tragic loss. In his Fifteenth Symphony (1971), his last, Shostakovich describes a musical journey 'from the cradle to the grave'. In this alternately dramatic and serene work, he also quotes some telling passages from Wagner's operas. The latter has of course been included in the programme too, with excerpts from Tristan und Isolde, in which true love transcends death.
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The celebrated Italian contralto Sara Mingardo returns to the Flanders Opera following the Stabat Maters by Pergolesi and Vivaldi. She sings the solo part in the Kindertotenlieder. Dmitri Jurowski continues his engagement as chief conductor, which has frequently won him acclaim: ‘To the delight of the audience principal conductor Dmitri Jurowski commits himself to the music so that the Flanders Opera Symphony Orchestra shines yet again’ (Cutting Edge).