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"The conductor Titus Engel made La Traviata the event of Basel. [...] Musically, this production owes its success to the man at the podium of the Basel Symphony Orchestra."Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 26.10.2017
An openness to innovative concert formats, combined with unparalleled technical precision, distinguish Titus Engel as one of the leading creative minds among the conductors of his generation. In addition to his fascination for symphonic repertoire of the 19th and 20th centuries, he has a deep passion for baroque music. Born in Zurich and now based in Berlin, Engel is a frequent guest of major European orchestras and leading ensembles for contemporary music.
The Orchestre de l’Opéra de Paris, Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden/Freiburg, Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León, Bern Symphony Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, as well as the Chamber Orchestras of Basel, Zurich, Stuttgart, and Munich count among the many renowned orchestras Titus Engel has conducted. As a guest conductor he also regularly works with ensembles such as Ensemble Modern, Ensemble musikFabrik, Ensemble Recherche, the Collegium Novum Zürich, Remix Ensemble and the Klangforum Wien, among others.
He made his opera debut with the premiere of Schweitzer’s Jakob von Gunten in Dresden in 2000. Since then, he has conducted Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo (Radialsystem Berlin, Theater an der Wien), Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and Weber’s Der Freischütz (Kampnagel Hamburg), Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman and Berg’s Wozzeck (Stuttgart Opera), Offenbach’s Les Brigands (Bremen Theatre) and Fantasio (Komische Oper Berlin), Telemann’s Orpheus and Mozart’s Betulia Liberata (Frankfurt Opera), Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel (Hamburg State Opera), Glass‘s Akhnaten (Opera Vlaanderen Antwerp/Ghent), Nunez’s La Douce (Staatsoper Berlin) and Verdi´s La Traviata (Theater Basel). He has also led numerous world premieres (Sergej Newski, Leo Dick, Olga Neuwirth, Michael Wertmüller, Rebecca Saunders, Bernhard Gander) at the Salzburg Festival, Ruhrtriennale, Berliner Festspiele, Lucerne Festival, Hamburg State Opera, and the Wiener Konzerthaus.
Titus Engel’s debut at the Teatro Real Madrid with the premiere of Pilar Jurado’s La página en blanco in February 2011 was highly praised by the press. He then conducted the world premiere of Charles Wuorinen’s opera Brokeback Mountain (2014) and Elena Mendoza’s La ciudad de las mentiras (2017). Together with Lydia Steier in 2016 he staged the Swiss premiere Stockhausen's Donnerstag at Theater Basel; the production was named the performance of the year by the Opernwelt magazine's critics' survey. 2017 saw the premiere of Chaya Czernowin's opera Infinite Now, which he conducted at the Opera Vlaanderen, the Nationaltheater Mannheim and the Philharmonie de Paris.
Titus Engel kicks off the 2018/19 season with Christoph Marthaler's new staging with music by Charles Ives, to be performed at the Ruhrtriennale under the title Universe, incomplete. Additional engagements include concerts with the Klangforum Wien and with composer and singer Agata Zubel at the Bolzano Transart Festival, and as guest conductor at the Philharmonia Orchestra in London. At the Stuttgart Opera House, he performs Béla Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle in a new production by the Belgian artist Hans Op de Beeck, and in Basel he conducts the world premiere of Michael Wertmüller's opera Diodati, Undendlich. At the Collegium Novum Zurich, he conducts Cornelius Cardew's 1971 work The Great Learning, which combines collective music-making with the individual musicianship of those involved.
After studying musicology and philosophy he began studies in conducting with Christian Kluttig at the Hochschule für Musik Dresden. Sponsorships from the Deutscher Musikrat’s Dirigentenforum (2002 to 2005) and a fellowship with David Zinman’s American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Summer Music Festival in 2003 supported his musical career. As assistant to Sylvain Cambreling, Marc Albrecht and Peter Rundel, he acquired a broad orchestral repertoire. Titus Engel has produced various works for radio, TV and CD, and is founder of the Akademie Musiktheater Heute and the editor of several books on contemporary opera.
This biography is to be reproduced without any changes, omissions or additions, unless expressly authorised by the artist management.
Conductor Titus Engel was a competent helmsman as he guided the musicians of the DRP joyfully through the ups and downs of the extensive scores.
Saarbrücker Zeitung, Helmut Fackler, 29/04/2018
On La Traviata in Basel
Verdi at its best. Through providing panache, momentum and a driving rhythmic sense, Engel gets right to the heart of the composer’s intentions.
Opernwelt, Heinz W. Koch, 12/2017
… Engel, who drew muscular playing from the orchestra and paced each scene with complete security.
Opera Magazine, John Allison, December 2017
Musically the best is the Sinfonieorchester Basel conducted by Titus Engel. You know that it will be a great evening already after the prologue. Rarely can this work be heard so subtly yet meaningfully conducted, so precise and energetic but without being stereotypical.
NZZ, Christian Berzins, 29/10/2017
The conductor Titus Engel makes La Traviata in Basel an experience. Musically the production completely depends on the man with the baton in front of the Basel Symphony Orchestra.
FAZ, Lotte Thaler, 25/10/2017
The orchestra plays flawlessly, even brilliantly, under his baton [Titus Engel], the conductor gave clear indication of tempi, never letting the orchestra play too loudly and coaxed a springing string sound from the pit.
BaZ, Sigfried Schibli, 23/10/2017
On Betulia liberata in Frankfurt
Musically, it was admirably executed. The control and good humour of the conductor Titus Engel, who is an expert in new music, was a marvel. He coordinated the disparate sound sources, some of which were situated far away, with a relaxed and light hand.
Frankfurter Rundschau, Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich, June 2017
Titus Engel is actually a new music specialist, but his foray into Mozart was a great success. Everything sounded powerful, weighty and gripping, and it swung as if in a jazz club. Engel could rely on the excellent musicians of the Frankfurt Opern- und Museumsorchester and a well-composed soloist ensemble.
Deutschlandfunk, Jörn Florian Fuchs, June 2017
On the Klangrede 4 recording
What makes this production so extraordinary is not just the rich variety in the six compelling compositions, but also the uncompromising interpretation by the Zafraan Ensemble under the direction of Titus Engel, which explores sonic extremes and is captured on disc with a depth of focus.
Das Orchester, Stefan Drees, June 2017
On Infinite Now (Chaya Czernowin) in Mannheim
The fantastic work of conductor Titus Engel ensured an incredible intensity, propelling the performance with exact co-ordination and almost overflowing energy.
Die deutsche Bühne, Andreas Falentin, 28/5/17
On La ciudad de las mentiras (E. Mendoza / M. Rebstock) in Madrid
The conductor Titus Engel did an excellent job of coordinating the pit, stage and other musicians throughout the theatre.
Opera Magazine, Victoria Stapells, April 2017
On Donnerstag by Karlheinz Stockhausen, Theater Basel, Performance of the year 2016:
In the pit, instead of the usual specialists, were the musicians of the Sinfonieorchester Basel. Titus Engel held everything together perfectly (as with “Greeting” in the foyer beforehand), bringing Stockhausen home, so to speak, from the colourful life.
Opernwelt August 2016, Albrecht Thiemann
The conductor Titus Engel, who played along with wonderful eccentricity in “Greeting,” created a masterpiece from this production. Everything was clear, nothing lumpy, and the lyrical emphasis always shone through. The dramatic power and visual effect of this enormous construction was never lost.
Die deutsche Bühne, 27/6/16
Titus Engel’s performance was a great and admirable achievement. He co-ordinated the production with precision and security, and immersed the whole theatre in Stockhausen’s sound-world – supported by the composer’s muse, sound director Kathinka Pasveer. A genuine musician, he brought out the music’s rarely shown sensuality and lyricism, but above all its dramatic power.
On Fantasio by Jacques Offenbach, Komische Oper Berlin:
The Orchestra of the Komische Oper under the Swiss conductor Titus Engel ensures that there is a refreshing contrast between brisk and ceremonial sounds, stiff curtsies and wistful waltzes. Sometimes there is even the suspicion of a catchy melody. Musically the best Offenbach – lively and sentimental, and with an entertaining bounce.
Berliner Morgenpost, 15/2/16
Passionate conducting by Titus Engel who silently sings all of the parts and captivates the orchestra of the Komische Oper Berlin, the choir rehearsed by David Cavelius and the excellent team of soloists to produce this top performance.
Conductor Titus Engel throws himself into Offenbach’s sometimes sumptuously lyrical, sometimes glitteringly crisp kingdom of melodies with palpable enjoyment. He savours the instrumental finesse with the orchestra of the Komische Oper, which reacts flexibly, and emphasises both the prominent accents and subtle sound development.
One is indeed in a class of his own: the conductor Titus Engel, who leads all the singers and actors, as well as the four e-instrumentalists of Ensemble Resonanz and the three jazz musicians of the ensemble Steamboat Switzerland by dint of Wertmüller’s breakneck rhythmic rapids, still managing to keep the actors in tow, dancing like a conducting dervish. Well done!
Die Deutsche Bühne, 20/9/15
Titus Engel, the conductor, also joins in, incidentally, complete with costume and mask. This might not be a new statement, but one rarely experiences such virtuosic and natural music. Instead of a baton, Engel holds a glow stick in his hand; he is like an adjudicator between the characters, the dervish and warlock himself.
Die Zeit, 24/9/15
This has to be one of the most exciting productions of the season in terms of dramatic performance and musicality (…).
omm.de, May 2014 (on G. P. Telemann's opera Orpheus at the Frankfurt Opera)
The young Swiss conductor Titus Engel animated the Teatro Real orchestra to achieve an astonishingly nuanced and developed richness of tone.
Opernwelt, March 2014
|C. M. V. WEBER||Overture to Oberon|
|G. KURTÀG||Grabstein für Stephan|
|L. V. BEETHOVEN||Symphony No. 3|
|A. DVORÁK||Vodnik op. 107|
|W. RIHM||vers une symphonie fleuve III|
|A. ZEMLINSKY||The Mermaid - Fantasy for Orchestra|
|R. WAGNER||Prelude to Tristan a. Isolde + Liebestod|
|A. BERG||Lyrische Suite|
|G. MAHLER||Symphony No. 1 D-major Titan|
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