Bayreuth Baroque Opera Festival
George Petrou
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Grammy nominee and Echo Klassik winner George Petrou, is one of the most distinguished conductors of his generation, with a remarkable international career. He has particular interest in music of the 18th and 19th c. and is currently considered as one of the world’s leading Baroque specialists.  However, his activity is very wide including music of the 20 c. as well as contemporary.

Aside from conducting a wide range of symphonic music he has gained a reputation as an operatic conductor, with emphasis on the historically informed practices.

Additionally, he has developed a vivid interest in staging of opera and musical theatre. He translated in Greek and staged several successful productions, incl. West side Story,  Kiss me Kate,  Sweeney Todd.

He studied piano at the Athens Conservatoire, the Royal College and the Royal Academy of Music in London, graduating with the ARCM,  MMus and RAM postgraduate degrees.

He enjoyed a successful career as a concert pianist but gradually turned to conducting and quickly gained attention,  establishing a flourishing international career.

George Petrou is the artistic director of the renowned Athens based orchestra “Armonia Atenea”, with which he tours and records extensively, performing both on period or modern instruments.

Current highlights…

… include new productions of “La Donna del Lago” in Lausanne,  “Lucia di Lamermoor” at the Greek National Opera, “L’italiana in Algeri” in Trieste, “Siroe” by Hasse for Netherlandische Reisopera,  “La traviata” in Opera de Toulouse, Sondheim’s “Company” at the Athens Festival (as stage director, translator and conductor) and further appearances at Theater an der Wien (Handel’s “Ottone” and Zingarelli’s “Giulietta e Romeo”), Wigmore Hall, Theatre Champs-Elysées, Bilkent Symphony in Ankara, Athens state orchestra etc

Past seasons: 

Past seasons included appearances at the Opera de Lausanne, Oper Leipzig, Staatstheater Wiesbaden, Korea National opera (Seoul), Theater St Gallen, Staatstheater Bern, Teatro Petruzzelli, Teatro Verdi in Trieste, Opera de Nice,  Royal Swedish Opera, Staatstheater Darmstadt, Opera Royale de Versailles, la Monnaie in Brussels, the Nationaltheater Mannheim, Staatstheater Saarbrücken, Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo.

He appears regularly at the International Handel Festivals of Karlsruhe and Halle, at the Salzburg Pfingsfestspiele, the BBC PROMS, the Festival de Beaune, the Theater an der Wien, Opera Rara festival among others.

Orchestras:

He regularly collaborates in concert with renowned orchestras such as the Gewandhaus, the Muenchner Rundfunkorchester, the orchestre de chambre de Lausanne, the Concerto Koln, the Pomo d’oro, the B’Rock, the Berner Symphonieorchester, the Athens State Orchestra, the Bratislava Philharmonic, the Musica Viva (Moscow), the New Russia Symphony orchestra.

Recordings: 

George Petrou has done over 22 recordings for some of the world’s leading recording companies, including Deutsche Gramophone, DECCA, MDG, OEHMS Klassiks. He has received an ECHO klassik award, for his recording of Handel’s “Tamerlano” and  was nominated for a GRAMMY award,  in the “Best opera recording” category for Handel’s “Ottone”.

Many of his Handel Operas recordings are considered “definitive” by the international press and have received the highest critical acclaim (Preis der Deutsche Schalplattenkritik, Choc-Monde de la Musique, Gramophone-Editor’s Choice, Diapason d’Or (5 times), BBC Mag/Recording of the Month (3 times), CD of the week-Sunday Times, Recording of the month in Musicweb, Crescendo Bestenliste Platz 1, etc.) Handel’s Alessandro was the “Recording of the Year” at the International Opera Awards, and the live performance transmitted by Mezzo from Versailles was voted by the viewers as “Opera of the Year 2013” recieving more than 250,000 votes.

Honors:

He was  honored as an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music,  London (ARAM), was awarded the title of “Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres” from the French government and the Sebetia Ter prize in Naples, Italy.

Nos plus sincères lauriers, c’est sur le front de George Petrou qu’on les dépose. Dès les premières mesures de l’Ouverture, cette baguette d’une vigueur sans pareille galvanise un Philharmonique de Nice qui se plie avec loyauté à cette discipline de fer. Le voir diriger est un spectacle en soi, tant son geste déborde de force physique sans esbroufe. Sous cette battue sanguine, le discours respire et s’anime d’une palpitation permanente, qui jamais ne laisse retomber la tension.

(Diapason magazine, about Cherubini’s Medea at Opera de Nice)

Alessandro wows the audience at Salle Pleyel

Let’s be clear: this was a performance of the highest order. From the first five notes of the overture, the sixteen-member orchestra Armonia Aténéa led by George Petrou ravished the audience of the Salle Pleyel with Handel’s full splendour. One of the most remarkable emerging talents of the new generation of Baroque conductors, the energetic yet sensible George Petrou simply knew how to create instant Handelian magic.

(Backtrack, about Alessandro by Handel,  in salle Pleyel)

Petrou’s direction throughout manifested a consistently innate musical sense: his expressive conducting and ability to phrase the music into ideal shape drew music-making of vigour and vitality. Petrou is a great, recent phenomenon on the Baroque scene, and he will surely achieve much more that is notable.

(Classical Source, about the concert titled  “Greek myths” at the BBC Proms)

…le jeune chef grec George Petrou reprend le flambeau avec une rigueur vigoureuse, une inventivité aussi qui n’ont d’égal que son sens profond de l’unité et de la progression du drame…

(Diapason, about Farnace by Vivaldi at the Opera de Strasbourg)

Sul podio il direttore George Petrou fa un ottimo Rossini. L’Orchestra del Verdi, ridotta nelle dimensioni, restituisce un suono leggero e dettagliatissimo ma mai flebile. Il direttore impone una narrazione tesa e brillante, implacabile nell’incedere ritmico senza mai irrigidirsi ed estremamente varia nelle dinamiche.

(Il discorso, about Cenerentola by Rossini at Teatro Verdi, Trieste)

Am Pult stand der griechische Dirigent George Petrou. Sein schlichter, nüchterner Dirigierstil schuf ein klares, transparentes Klangbild, das vom Ensemble perfekt umgesetzt wurde und die Dramatik der Partitur herausarbeitete. Ob zarte, lyrische Stellen oder dramatisch aufgeladene Passagen, das Instrumentalensemble Armonia Atenea traf stets die richtige Atmosphäre.

(Backtrack on Zingarelli’s Giulietta e Romeo, at the Salzburg spring Festival)

…l’orchestra del Petruzzelli diretta magistralmente da George Petrou, attentissimo negli attacchi dati ai cantanti e asciutto nell’interpretare i brani più celebri della partitura, in particolare la marcia al supplizio, qui resa da un’agogica più incalzante del solito. La sua direzione concentratissima ha infatti permesso che le tre ore e mezza di spettacolo non abbiano avuto neppure un calo di tensione

(Gbopera, about la Gazza Ladra by Rossini at Teatro Petruzzelli, Bari)

Er hat diese Musik des jugendlichen Heißsporns Mozart mit einem Drive spielen lassen, mit so viel Schwung und Delikatesse, dass es einen förmlich mitriss. Nun kommt er aus der Alten Musik – er hat ja selbst ein Ensemble mit historischen Instrumenten, hat bereits preisgekrönte Aufnahmen damit gemacht. Und er hat schon viele große Orchester dirigiert. Aber wie er diesen jungen Mozart heute Abend zum Besten gab, das hat alle Erwartungen übertroffen. Die Musiker des Mannheimer Nationaltheaters spielten auf modernen Instrumenten, aber Petrou hat sie zu hörbar historisch informiertem, zu immer wieder stürmischem Spiel animiert, er hat sie übrigens übrigens vom Cembalo aus sehr fantasievoll begleitet. Man war sprachlos. Und so mancher dürfte sich in die Musik dieses Stücks verliebt haben heute Abend.”

(Deutschlandradio Kultur about Mitridate by Mozart, at Nationalteater Mannheim.)

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