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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. The Süddeutsche Zeitung proclaimed it “superb” and La Razón wrote: “The Swiss conductor Titus Engel led the orchestra amazingly. He knew the work inside out and achieved an excellent reaction from the orchestra.” In 2014 he then conducted the world premiere of Charles Wuorinen’s opera Brokeback Mountain in Madrid to great critical acclaim, and will give the world premiere of Elena Mendoza’s opera La ciudad de las mentiras in 2017.
Born in Zurich in 1975, Titus Engel currently resides in Berlin. 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 since conducted many renowned orchestras such as 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, Danish National Chamber Orchestra, as well as the Chamber Orchestras of Basel, Zurich, Stuttgart and Munich. As a guest conductor he regularly works with leading ensembles for contemporary music such as Ensemble Modern, Ensemble musikFabrik, Ensemble Recherche, the Collegium Novum Zürich, Remix Ensemble and the Klangforum Wien, among others. He was musical director of courage – Dresdner Ensemble for Contemporary Music from 2000 to 2012.
The search for new concert forms and the dramaturgically meaningful fusion of early and new music are central to his career. Besides symphonic repertoire of the 19th and 20th centuries, Titus Engel has a deep passion for baroque music performances on historical and modern instruments. The results have been presented in projects such as Affektheischerei (Konzerthaus Berlin in 2010) and Im Sog der Klänge, a project in which 17th century choir music is combined with world premieres and which was performed 2009 at the NDR in Hamburg and in 2010 at the Klangspuren Schwaz, as well as at the Festwochen Herrenhausen in Hanover.
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), Krenek’s Dunkle Wasser (Konzerthaus Berlin), Offenbach’s Les Brigands (Bremen Theatre) and Fantasio (Komische Oper Berlin), Telemann’s Orpheus (Frankfurt Opera), Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel (Hamburg State Opera), Glass‘s Akhnaten (Opera Vlaanderen Antwerp/Ghent) and Stockhausen‘s Donnerstag (Theater Basel). Furthermore he has led numerous world premieres (Sergej Newski, Leo Dick, Elena Mendoza, Olga Neuwirth, Michael Wertmüller) at the Ruhrtriennale, Berliner Festspiele, MaerzMusik Berlin, Lucerne Festival, Hamburg State Opera and Opera d’hoy Madrid. Summer 2014 saw Titus Engel’s third successive invitation to the Salzburg Festival.
In the 2016/17 season he is invited to the Staatsoper Berlin (Emmanuel Nunez's La Douce), Vlaanderen Opera/Nationaltheater Mannheim/Philharmonie de Paris (Chaya Czernowin’s Infinite Now WP) and to the Frankfurt Opera (Mozart’s La Betulia Liberata). He will also conduct the Klangforum in world premieres by Rebecca Saunders, Bernhard Gander and Michael Wertmüller at the Donaueschinger Musiktage and the Wiener Konzerthaus.
Titus Engel has produced various works for radio, TV and CD. In co-operation with ZDF-ARTE television he published a number of debut recordings of historical and contemporary silent film music. He is founder of the Akademie Musiktheater Heute and the Ligerzer Opernwerkstatt, 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.
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|