Next week, on Thursday, September 10, Fabio Luisi launches his tenure as the Louise W. & Edmund J. Kahn Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) in the orchestra’s recently announced NEXT STAGE: revised programming for fall 2020 reflecting the realities and health considerations required for live music performance in the age of COVID. The Grammy-winning conductor looks forward to leading three concert programs spaced throughout the fall season. Powerhouse pianist Yefim Bronfman will join Luisi and the DSO for an all-Beethoven program (Sep 10–13); mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford and tenor Stuart Skelton will be the soloists in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth), presented in a unique chamber version (Oct 9–11); and a celebration of the operas of Giuseppe Verdi will feature soprano Krassimira Stoyanova, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, tenor Piero Pretti and bass Wenwei Zhang (Oct 29–Nov 1).
For the safety of DSO musicians and audiences during the ongoing pandemic, the fall programs will be performed with no intermission, will be composed of smaller, socially-distanced orchestral ensembles and will allow an audience of only 50-75 guests. Tickets will be made available to subscribers first, and open dress rehearsals or additional performances are possible for concerts with demand that exceeds capped capacity. In addition, this season marks the debut of a new robotic camera system and video studio at the Meyerson Symphony Center that will allow the DSO to capture concerts for on-demand viewing or live streaming. Building on procedures that began this past summer, DSO musicians will volunteer for the concerts and will receive COVID-19 testing before playing. Strict distancing will be enforced in backstage areas, and additional cleaning will take place in musicians’ common areas.
Kim Noltemy, Ross Perot President & CEO of the Dallas Symphony, comments:
“After the shutdown in March, we were able to make music in unique ways and for many people across the Metroplex and for audiences online. There is no substitute, though, for performances on our stage at the Meyerson with an audience.
“During his time as Music Director Designate, we have seen the fantastic music and the tremendous relationship that Fabio Luisi has made with the orchestra. As he starts his tenure as Music Director, we are looking forward to building upon that, introducing him to the Dallas community and years of incredible music-making at the Meyerson.”
While the pandemic has overshadowed much of this year’s worldwide celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, Luisi’s first program – when he will be joined by longtime collaborator Yefim Bronfman as piano soloist – is entirely devoted to the Classical master, comprising his Piano Concerto No. 2 and Symphony No. 8 (Sep 10–13). A month later Luisi returns to Dallas to conduct an intriguing chamber ensemble arrangement of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earthwith “revelatory” (New York Times) mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford and acclaimed Australian heldentenor Stuart Skelton as soloists (Oct 9–11). Arnold Schoenberg, a great admirer of Mahler, began arranging the piece for a private performance in 1920, but it was only 60 years later that a performing edition was finally made from his detailed notes. The New York Times  says of the arrangement that its success “comes in great part from the inherent chamber feel of Mahler’s score … Stripped of its plush carpet of strings, the work’s underlying architecture is revealed, and melodic lines stand out more clearly. But emotions too are magnified, with desolate moments appearing more bleak and hopeful passages more poignant.” 
Luisi’s third fall program celebrates the operas of Giuseppe Verdi, replacing the originally planned performance of Verdi’s Requiem, which will be postponed until large gatherings of choral singers once again become possible. The stellar quartet of originally scheduled soloists – soprano Krassimira Stoyanova, tenor Piero Pretti, bass Wenwei Zhang, and superstar mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton – will perform selections from AidaDon CarloThe Force of Destiny and other beloved staples of the Verdi canon (Oct 29–Nov 1). Luisi says:
“Plans and programs may change, but our commitment to music and performing for our audience is unwavering. I am very excited to come back to Dallas and share music in the Meyerson. Sadly, we will not be able to perform Verdi’s Requiem at this time, but we will certainly prioritize programming this for a future season.”
One of the world’s most distinguished opera conductors, Luisi is now entering his ninth and last season as General Music Director of the Zurich Opera, where his final operatic project will be Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra. When he conducted Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera in 2011, the New York Times raved about the “vivid, lucid, keenly dramatic performance” he drew from the Met musicians, declaring: “Mr. Luisi is steeped in the Verdi style.” The conductor’s season will also include several concerts with the Filarmonica della Scala, Philadelphia Orchestra, Tokyo’s NHK Symphony, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, which he will conduct in Leipzig’s Mahler Festival in May 2021.
Luisi arrives in Dallas as Music Director having already established an electric rapport with the orchestra. Texas Classical Review observed that “Luisi continues to demonstrate a close and growing artistic partnership with the DSO musicians,” and Classical Voice America confirmed: “The Dallas Symphony Orchestra played magnificently under Luisi’s experienced hands.” Dallas News found that the conductor “drew performances that combined finesse, suavity, subtlety and excitement in ways I’d never heard before,” and according to Theater Jones, “Luisi’s fireball energy created an in-your-face performance fueled by an adrenaline rush. … He is already an audience favorite.”