Dame Sarah Connolly, mezzo-soprano with Joseph Middleton, piano

Pas de trois: Gustav Mahler, Alexander von Zemlinsky and Alma Mahler

The ultimate femme fatale: Alma Mahler, the muse who seduced Vienna [Fiona MacCarthy, The Telegraph, 2020]

Vienna, 1890 – 1910. Secession, Modernism, Intellectualism, the Fin-de-Siècle… Alma Mahler lived in this enthralling era which shaped the future the world as we know it today. Oxford Festival of the Arts invites you to a snapshot of this allure as we enter this lush soundworld with none other than mezzo-soprano, Dame Sarah Connolly, and pianist Joseph Middleton, as we explore a pas de trois of exchanges with the music of Gustav Mahler, Alexander von Zemlinsky and Alma Mahler herself – the femme fatale in Vienna enchanting society and artists like Walter Gropius, Oscar Kokoschka, Zemlinksy, and ultimately, of course, marrying Gustav Mahler.

Tying in with our festival theme for this year – MUSE – in this performance of intimate lieder and song cycles, we shall see Alma Mahler not only as the muse, but as the creator.  “Für dich leben! Für dich sterben! — Almschi!” – GUSTAV MAHLER

Born in County Durham, Sarah Connolly studied piano and singing at the Royal College of Music, of which she is now a Fellow. She was made a DBE in the 2017 Birthday Honours, having previously been made a CBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours. In 2020 she was made an Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society in recognition of her outstanding services to music. Highlights in her 2023/24 season include Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the LSO/Sir Antonio Pappano; Tippett’s A Child of our Time with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis; Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Nicholas Collon and orchestral songs by Alma Mahler-Werfel with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/John Storgårds.  

Joseph Middleton is Director of Leeds Lieder, Musician-in-Residence at Pembroke College Cambridge and a Professor and Fellow at his alma mater, The Royal Academy of Music. Joseph enjoys partnerships with many internationally-established singers. In 2023/24 he returns to the Life Victoria Festival Barcelona, where he was last season’s Artist-in-Residence, with Miah Persson and Dame Sarah Connolly. Further appearances with Dame Sarah include performances in Seville, Amsterdam, and at the Wigmore Hall.


Samuel Barber Three Songs Op. 10
Erollyn Wallen Night Thoughts
Gustav Mahler Kindertotenlieder

— ​Interval —

Claude Debussy Chanson de Bilitis
Alexander von Zemlinsky Sechs Lieder auf Gedichte von Maurice Maeterlinck
Alma Mahler Die stille Stadt | Laue Sommernacht | Bei dir ist es Traut [from Fünf Lieder]
Kurt Weill My Ship | Speak Low | Trouble Man | Je ne t’aime pas


Student tickets are available from £5 (plus booking fee).





Jul 05 2024


7:30 pm

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St John the Evangelist Church
St John the Evangelist Church
109A Iffley Road, Oxford, OX4 1EH
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