© Sabine Burger
Orfeo 55 and Nathalie Stutzmann have been appointed Associate Artists of the Fondation Singer-Polignac in 2012.
Orfeo 55, the orchestra
Nathalie Stutzmann had always dreamed of leading her own chamber orchestra, and the creation of the Orfeo 55 ensemble in 2009 finally made her dream come true. Today, leading Orfeo 55, Nathalie Stutzmann has imposed her musical rigour, her expressive freedom and all the emotional intensity which have contributed to her considerable reputation as a singer and orchestra conductor. If the place of Vivaldi, Bach or Handel is central to her orchestra’s programme, Nathalie Stutzmann has no intention of limiting its repertoire to the Baroque era, as the ensemble’s musicians play both baroque and modern instruments with equal facility, allowing the orchestra to approach a broad variety of pieces in adapting their instruments with great flexibility. For example, Orfeo 55 has recently performed Metamorphosen by Richard Strauss, and works by Tchaïkovsky and Schoenberg are already programmed.
Orfeo 55 varies in size: the number of musicians involved with the ensemble is adapted to the works which they perform. Musicians in the ensemble are recruited individually according to their technique, music skills, sound criteria and flexibility, and notably the ease with which they integrate the group. Orfeo 55 likes to offer a highly personal vision of works which have aroused Nathalie Stutzmann’s enthusiasm, and they share them with listeners in performances featuring the greatest capacities for expression, including colours – vocal or instrumental – that are sensual, and a warm, rounded sound that adapts to larger, modern halls such as the Arsenal in Metz, where Orfeo 55 is the resident orchestra.
Strengthened by the intense efforts accomplished in little more than three years, and also by the success of the ensemble’s debut recording Prima Donna and Une cantate imaginaire, Orfeo 55 orchestra has already come to the fore of the music scene; thanks to its many international appearances, the ensemble has succeeded in establishing new criteria for sound and expression.
Nathalie Stutzmann is considered to be one of the most outstanding musical personalities of our time, with parallel careers as both contralto and orchestral conductor. As the model of a complete musician, Nathalie Stutzmann started her studies at a very young age in piano, bassoon, chamber music and conducting. Her vocal training was initially with her mother, the distinguished soprano Christiane Stutzmann, and later at the Ecole d’Art Lyrique de l’Opéra de Paris focusing on lieder with the great Hans Hotter.
She sings regularly with the world’s greatest conductors and orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic with Sir Simon Rattle, Vienna Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, London Symphony Orchestra, and Rotterdam Philharmonic with Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
Having studied conducting with the legendary Finnish teacher Jorma Panula and mentored by Seiji Ozawa and Simon Rattle, Nathalie Stutzmann founded her own chamber orchestra, Orfeo 55 in 2009. The orchestra’s permanent home is at the Arsenal in Metz, France, where she is Artist in Residence. Orfeo 55 plays on both baroque and modern instruments in a wide-ranging repertoire from Bach, Handel, Pergolesi and Vivaldi to Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Janacek, Richard Strauss and Schoenberg. Her approach – at once free and rigorous – her knowledge of phrasing and the emotional intensity of her performances has led to huge appreciation, by both the audiences she entertains, as well as the orchestras she leads.
Decorated “Chevalier des Arts et Lettres” and “Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite” by the French State, Nathalie Stutzmann also teaches performance classes throughout the world, and is a teacher at Geneva’s Haute École de Musique.
Label Deutsche Grammophon, avril 2011