Jacksonville Symphony welcomes metropolitan Opera singers for season finale

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The Jacksonville Symphony will end the 2017-18 season with a performance of selections from Richard Wagner’s epic Götterdämmerung, the fourth opera in the grandiose Ring Cycle, and Claude Debussy’s Iberia. The performances will take place June 1 and 2 at 8 p.m. at Jacoby Symphony Hall.

For the selections from Wagner's Götterdämmerung, Music Director Courtney Lewis and the Jacksonville Symphony will be joined by three guest vocalists. Jay Hunter Morris will perform the part of Siegfried, Christine Brewer will perform the part of Brünnhilde, and John Whelan will perform the part of Hagen. Christine Brewer and Jay Hunter Morris are both regulars at some of the world's finest opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

Morris came into the national spotlight when he created the role of Tony in Terrence McNally's celebrated play "Master Class," on Broadway in 1995. Career highlights include performances in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Seattle, Santa Fe, San Diego, Toronto, Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Paris, Monte Carlo, Budapest, Tokyo, Strasbourg, Vienna and Beijing. He debuted the role of Siegfried with the San Francisco Opera in 2011, and at the Metropolitan Opera in their production by Robert LePage in 2011-2013. The production was broadcast live to cinemas worldwide and won a Grammy in 2013 for Best Opera Recording. Morris sang the role in Budapest at the Wagner Days Festival, and again in 2016 with Houston Grand Opera. Other recent successes include his first Tristan in Valencia, under the baton of Zubin Mehta, and Schoenburg’s Guerre-Lieder at the Vienna Konzerthaus with Kent Nagano. Morris has most recently been seen on PBS in the role of Captain Ahab in Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick, from the San Francisco Opera.

Christine Brewer is a Grammy Award-winning American soprano who performs in opera, concert and recitals around the world. She was named “one of the top 20 sopranos of all time” by the BBC and the New York Times’ Anthony Tommasini described her as “in her prime and sounding glorious.”

On the opera stage, Brewer is highly regarded for her portrayal of the title role in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, which she has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra de Lyon, Théatre du Chatelet and Santa Fe Opera. Attracting glowing reviews with each role, she has performed Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at San Francisco Opera, Gluck’s Alceste with Santa Fe Opera, the Dyer’s Wife in Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten at Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Paris Opera, and Lady Billows in Britten’s Albert Herring at Santa Fe Opera.

Brewer has performed with ensembles including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the New World Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Boston Symphony, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Opera, the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York City Opera, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonic and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

Paul Whelan began the 2017-18 season at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City in the role of Gremin in "Eurgene Onegin." The bass-baritone recently added the role of Sarastro Die Zauberflöte to his repertoire which he sang at Hawaii Opera Theatre. In Geneva, he joined the Grand Theatre for their new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Quince, and he appeared at Gothenburg Opera for the role of Claudio in Hamlet for a new production by Stephen Langridge for which he received sterling reviews.

Recent highlights include the role of Daland in "Der fliegende Holländer" at Hawaii Opera Theatre and New Zealand Opera as well as role debuts as Nick Shadow in "The Rake's Progress" for Opera New Zealand, Branco in "Macbeth" at Opera North in the UK, and Titurel "Parsifal" with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

When performed altogether, Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, more commonly referred to as the Ring Cycle, lasts for almost 15 hours. Although referred to today as operas, Wagner insisted on calling his grand works “music dramas.” Wagner believed that opera was the greatest of the human arts, and he wanted it to contain all the arts: literature in the form of the text, visual arts in the set and costume design, and music. He wanted his theatre pieces to be “complete art works”, and in order to distinguish them from the operas of the past, he called them “music dramas.” For this performance, the Symphony will perform almost 90 minutes of the finale to Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Götterdämmerung, translated as “The Twilight of the Gods.”

For more information or to purchase tickets, call (904) 354-5547 or visit www.JaxSymphony.org.

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