The opera world’s leading mezzo-soprano, Frederica von Stade, headlines the 1998-99 season of the Spokane Symphony.
“She’s an amazing, wonderful singer,” says Fabio Mechetti, the orchestra’s music director. “Everyone is going to be very excited when she comes in.”
The symphony season was designed to cover every major period of composition from the 17th century through the 20th century. Other guest artists include violinist Leila Josefowicz and pianist Angela Cheng.
Von Stade debuted with the Metropolitan Opera in 1970, and celebrated her 25th anniversary with that opera in 1995. She has performed with the top opera companies and symphonies around the world, including La Scala, the Paris Opera, the New York Philharmonic and the London Symphony.
She will sing from Ravel and Canteloube at the final concert of the season, which will also include the symphony’s performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1.
“It gives validity to the symphony itself as an organization to be able to work with somebody so reputable,” says Mechetti.
Artists of similar stature who have appeared recently with the Spokane Symphony include baritone Thomas Hampson and pianist Andre Watts.
Von Stade’s appearance will be underwritten by a grant from the Jewett Foundation, according to Jonathan Martin, the symphony’s executive director.
While Martin would not disclose von Stade’s specific fee for the May 7, 1999, appearance, he said it falls in the $20,000 to $40,000 range. The most expensive names in the symphonic world, such as Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma and Jessye Norman, charge from $40,000 to $90,000, he said.
Mechetti has trouble naming his favorite upcoming concerts. “It’s like fathering children,” he says. “You love them all.”
The most challenging concert, he says, will be the Jan. 29 program of three Russian ballets, including Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.”
Martin calls the piece “difficult, challenging, extremely satisfying music.”
He says, “It’s just a big meaty thing that will be wonderful for the orchestra, the musicians and the audience.”
The opening gala concert combines Beethoven and Gershwin. Cheng will play Gershwin’s Concerto in F and the Spokane Symphony will perform Gershwin’s “American in Paris” and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1.
“It’s a pretty tasty way to kick things off,” Martin says.
The Spokane Symphony season also includes a SuperPops series starring singer Shirley Jones and the trio Bravo Broadway!; a series at The Met featuring flutist Michael Faust and baritone Frank Hernandez; and a three-concert series in Coeur d’Alene at Boswell Hall.
Two SymFunnies Family Concerts and five performances of “The Nutcracker” with Alberta Ballet will round out the season. , DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 6 Color photos