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Mesmerising mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung to sing with NZSO

Grammy Award-winning singer Michelle DeYoung makes her debut with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra this month. The acclaimed American mezzo-soprano, praised by The New York Times as “a powerful singer with a warm, seductive tone”, will perform Edward Elgar’s exquisite song cycle Sea Pictures which features in the NZSO’s Elgar & Strauss concerts in Auckland and Wellington.

DeYoung has performed in the world’s finest opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala and Opera National de Paris, and has starred in many lauded productions, including Samson et Dalila, Parsifal, Bluebeard’s Castle, Hamlet and Oedipus Rex.

She has sung with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Vienna Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic and Berliner Staatskapelle.

In 2001 DeYoung won Grammy Awards for Best Classical Album and Best Opera Recording and in 2003 for Best Classical Album.

Elgar & Strauss is the first of NZSO Music Director Edo de Waart’s 2017 Masterworks concert series.

The internationally-renowned conductor has previously worked with DeYoung and is delighted she will be performing with the NZSO. “She is a marvellous artist and one of the world’s best mezzo-soprano singers,” he says.

For Elgar & Strauss de Waart will also conduct two other great works inspired by nature – Richard Strauss’ epic Alpine Symphony and Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave).

The extraordinarily evocative and detailed Alpine Symphony celebrates a day’s climbing in the Alps and was inspired by Strauss’ own walks in the mountains and his love of nature. “It’s a huge piece with enormous forces on stage and I’m very pleased that it’s part of my Masterworks series for 2017,” says de Waart.

Mendelssohn’s enchanting Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave) drew inspiration from the German composer’s visit at age 20 to Fingal’s Cave on the isolated Scottish island of Staffa. The overture premiered in 1832. Years later Richard Wagner described it as Mendelssohn’s masterpiece.

Elgar’s Sea Pictures, composed between his magnificent Enigma Variations and his powerful The Dream of Gerontius, was his only song cycle for voice and orchestra and remains a favourite with singers. Elgar set the music to five poems, including works by his wife Alice and Elizabeth Barrett-Browning.

Renowned English contralto Clara Butt was chosen as the singer for the premiere of Sea Pictures in 1899. Instead of wearing formal recital attire she caused a stir by wearing a mermaid costume.

NZSO: Elgar & Strauss

In association with Crowne Plaza Auckland

EDO DE WAART Conductor


MENDELSSOHN Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave)
ELGAR Sea Pictures
RICHARD STRAUSS Eine Alpensinfonie (Alpine Symphony)

AUCKLAND| Town Hall | Friday 24 March | 7.30pm

WELLINGTON | Michael Fowler Centre | Saturday 25 March | 7.30pm