MIF is delighted to welcome American visionary Peter Sellars for his Festival directorial debut with a new staged piece in a long-lost Manchester venue: the Albert Hall, a gorgeous Wesleyan chapel that will be opening to the public for the first time in more than 40 years.
Shostakovich’s haunting Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti is based on Michelangelo’s sonnets and accompanying drawings of bodies in the throes of overwhelming spiritual struggle. Says Sellars: ‘The drawings and the sonnets, in their relentless quest for forgiveness and release, achieve a kind of hard-won, exhausted but resplendent transcendence.’
The Suite will be answered by one of J.S. Bach’s most dramatic Cantatas, Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen (BWV 56).
Sellars will be working with two American originals. Bass-baritone Eric Owens, one of the newest stars of New York’s Metropolitan Opera, has created a unique place in contemporary music, giving towering performances of physical and metaphysical stature, profound musicality and sheer humanity. Organist Cameron Carpenter has quickly garnered a worldwide reputation for his daring imagination, bold programming, fearless technical brilliance and ferocious, exhilarating recitals that rethink the instrument, the repertoire, the audience and the art form.
'At age 42, the Philadelphia-born singer has earned a leading position that few can claim: Right now Owens is the voice of the Metropolitan Opera...Owens is arguably the company's standout performer over the last two seasons.' Los Angeles Times on Eric Owens
'His playing, with its use of stops to create vast spectrums of colour, is extraordinary. It's hard not to be seduced.’ The Guardian on Cameron Carpenter.
James F Ingalls
Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti
Cantata BWV 56, ‘Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen’
Commissioned and produced by Manchester International Festival, in association with Old Stories: New Lives.