Alexander Joel
Conductor

“Alexander Joel controlled the brilliant orchestra to absolute perfection” (Opernglas, January 2016)

Contacts

Iarlaith Carter +44 (0)20 3725 9162
Katie MacDonald +44 (0)20 3725 9141

Biography

Principal Guest Conductor: Vlaamse Opera

 

Alexander Joel’s 2016/17 season starts with a new Andrea Breth production of Manon Lescaut for the Dutch National Opera with Eva-Maria Westbroek and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, a complete new Ring cycle at the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden (directed by Uwe Laufenberg), and a new production of Simon Boccanegra at the Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp, where he has recently been appointed Principal Guest Conductor. Over the next few years, he will conduct a number of their symphonic programmes, in addition to one new opera production a season. 

Principal Guest Conductor: Vlaamse Opera

 

Alexander Joel’s 2016/17 season starts with a new Andrea Breth production of Manon Lescaut for the Dutch National Opera with Eva-Maria Westbroek and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, a complete new Ring cycle at the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden (directed by Uwe Laufenberg), and a new production of Simon Boccanegra at the Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp, where he has recently been appointed Principal Guest Conductor. Over the next few years, he will conduct a number of their symphonic programmes, in addition to one new opera production a season. 

This season Alexander Joel returns to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden for the fourth time for a Carmen revival, having previously conducted La traviata and La bohème, and has been re-invited there again in autumn 2017. He will make his North American debut with the Boston Lyric Opera (Lehar’s Merry Widow) in spring 2016, and conducts a highly acclaimed Otello in a Michael Thalheimer production at the Vlaamse Opera. Other productions this season include Manon for the Opéra de Marseille, Turandot in both the Opernhaus Zürich and the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Don Giovanni and Madama Butterfly for the Royal Stockholm Opera and La taviata for both the Staatsoper Hamburg and the Volksoper Wien. 

Other highlights in the last few seasons have included premieres of Madama Butterfly at the Staatsoper Hamburg (available on DVD with Arthaus), Verdi's Macbeth at the Royal Danish Opera, new productions of Rigoletto and Madama Butterfly at the Grand Théâtre de Genève and Faust at the Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden. He has also conducted numerous productions at the Bayerische Staatsoper, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Finnish National Opera, New National Theatre in Toyko and Den Norske Opera. 

On the concert platform, upcoming highlights include his symphonic debut with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and a return to WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln at the Konzerthaus in Dortmund. Other recent orchestral debuts have included concerts with the Theatro Municipal de São Paulo, Düsseldorfer Symphoniker, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de Montpellier, Haydn Orchestra of Bolzano and BBC Philharmonic. 

Alexander Joel held the position of Generalmusikdirektor of the Staatstheater and Staatsorchester Braunschweig from 2007 to 2014 where he specialised in German repertoire with operas such as Salome, Lohengrin, Rosenkavalier, Tristan und Isolde and Parsifal, as well as covering most of the symphonic repertoire, with his emphasis being the Mahler Symphonies.

Son of a British mother and a German father, Alexander Joel grew up in Vienna and London and was educated in Switzerland. After a brief spell of studying French and English Law at King's College in London, he moved back to Vienna to study piano at the Academy of Music, before completing his conducting studies at the Vienna Conservatory of Music with honours in 1996. He was a prize winner at the European Conducting Competition in Spoleto that same year. Joel was First Kapellmeister at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein from 2001 to 2007.

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Contacts

Iarlaith Carter +44 (0)20 3725 9162
Katie MacDonald +44 (0)20 3725 9141

Reviews

“…Of course, the strengths of this production lies on the musical side. What the guest Conductor Alexander Joel contributes from the Staatsorchester Wiesbaden, was of the highest quality that has not been heard in a long time. The brass section play not just perfectly in tune, but offer a sonorous and rich sound that is never too loud…. the woodwind solo’s blossom, the strings find their rich colour and lightness, that has great class. Laufenberg’s decision to hire ex Music Director of the Staatstheater Braunschweig for his entire Wiesbaden “Ring”, has proven to be 100% spot on…” (Axel Zibulski, Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung, January 2017)

“Alexander Joel’s extatic, energetic, precisely balanced interpretation leaves no wish unfulfilled.” (Dieter Scholz, SWR, January 2017)

“…One can without a doubt say that the new production of the Verdi’s opera Simon Boccanegraat the Vlaamse Opera is a masterpiece ... thanks to Alexander Joel, the performance is a musical sensation… proves that he is one of the best Verdi and Wagner conductor of his generation, and his ability to animate the Symphonic Orchestra of the Flemish Opera to such incredible differentiation in expression demands respect. His clearly analysed, structured interpretation, aims at a dramatic and driven reading of the score, and allows the audience to grasp the late Verdi as a remarkably ‘modern’ composer, however Joel also never neglects the delicate and romantic aspects of the score. Under Joel’s direction, the technically impeccable and luscious sounding symphony orchestra of the Flemish Opera, succeeds in playing a culture of extreme piano, as is rarely heard….” (Dieter David Scholz, Das Orchester, January 2017)

“…Of course, the strengths of this production lies on the musical side. What the guest Conductor Alexander Joel contributes from the Staatsorchester Wiesbaden, was of the highest quality that has not been heard in a long time. The brass section play not just perfectly in tune, but offer a sonorous and rich sound that is never too loud…. the woodwind solo’s blossom, the strings find their rich colour and lightness, that has great class. Laufenberg’s decision to hire ex Music Director of the Staatstheater Braunschweig for his entire Wiesbaden “Ring”, has proven to be 100% spot on…” (Axel Zibulski, Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung, January 2017)

“Alexander Joel’s extatic, energetic, precisely balanced interpretation leaves no wish unfulfilled.” (Dieter Scholz, SWR, January 2017)

“…One can without a doubt say that the new production of the Verdi’s opera Simon Boccanegraat the Vlaamse Opera is a masterpiece ... thanks to Alexander Joel, the performance is a musical sensation… proves that he is one of the best Verdi and Wagner conductor of his generation, and his ability to animate the Symphonic Orchestra of the Flemish Opera to such incredible differentiation in expression demands respect. His clearly analysed, structured interpretation, aims at a dramatic and driven reading of the score, and allows the audience to grasp the late Verdi as a remarkably ‘modern’ composer, however Joel also never neglects the delicate and romantic aspects of the score. Under Joel’s direction, the technically impeccable and luscious sounding symphony orchestra of the Flemish Opera, succeeds in playing a culture of extreme piano, as is rarely heard….” (Dieter David Scholz, Das Orchester, January 2017)

“I have never heard Puccini‘s Manon Lescaut performed with such storm, drama, passion, and sensitivity - it was truly a sensation, and the public was quite rightly more than enthusiastic ...” (Dieter Scholz, Deutschland Radio, October 2016)

“...The best that can be said for the production is that it concentrated attention on the singing and the fine playing of the orchestra under Alexander Joel. He made sure all the necessary bite, tenderness and excitement of the score made their impact; the brass were thrillingly to the fore, though seldom overpowering the singers, the woodwind played with the greatest delicacy and the softer passages for the strings were beautifully judged, notably in the heartbreaking final act. Most stirring of all - because it too often sounds muddled - was the clarity of the music for the third act's massive ensemble, in which soloists, orchestra and the splendid chorus meshed together to magnificient effect….” (Opera magazine, June 2016)

“Alexander Joel propelled the Symphonic Orchestra Opera Flanders through Verdi’s marvellous music, driving the piece forward with an energetic current. (...) Joel delivered the monumental moments of the opera with throbbing energy, pulsating rhythms, and a colour-rich pallette.” (Bachtrack, February 2016)

“...In Brilliant form....So there was sufficient opportunity to experience a breathtaking interpretation: Alexander Joel controlled the brilliant orchestra to absolute perfection, drove the tempi forward, as if he wanted to remind people of the legendary legacy and brilliance of Carlos Kleiber, and at no point did he also miss the necessary elasticity in his conducting to achieve this. But not only the orchestra, as one of the world's best in the opera world, had a great evening…” (Michael Lehnert, Opernglas, January 2016)

“Alexander Joel was in full and impressive command of the score and elicited some fine playing from the Philharmonia Zurich” (John Rhodes, Seen and Heard International, December 2015)

“Joel conducts the opera with meticulous care: attentive, thoughtful and reflective. The conductor gives justice to the music of Massenet, and the orchestra, far from just accompanying the cast, plays a key role in the production.” (Patrick Da Maria, a Marseillaise, October 2015) 

“The orchestra of the Opera de Marseille is also worthy of praise. Alexander Joel’s delicate conducting is attentive to the action on stage and the Maestro perfectly balances the orchestral sound, even in the most subtle passages.” (Patrick Da Maria, a Marseillaise, October 2015)

“Alexander Joel led a cogent performance marked by subtle textual decoration onstage and sound, sinewy orchestral playing.” (David Shengold, Opera News Online, March 2015)

“[Joel] knew precisely how to make the woodwind sing without covering the strings to create a softness of sound that the orchestra respectfully followed. The audience may have expected fireworks but not the quality reading that this young and already great conductor was able to give.” (La Marseillaise L'Hérault du jour, February 2014)

“[Giving] inspired musical direction and interpretation Alexander Joel, at the head of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, weaves a carpet of sound of sheer beauty, even finding accents reminiscent of Debussy in this gigantic musical movement.” (Antonio Mafra, Petites Affiches Lyonnaises, May 2013)

At the head of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, … the British German conductor Alexander Joel explores every possible colour as well as the musical outbursts in the score." (Emmanuel Andrieu, Classique Info.com, May 2013)

“Alexander Joel obtains a beautiful expressivity in strings and in the winds of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. He forms the fiery and darkest passages beautifully…everything flows poetically.” (Julian Sykes, Le Temps, April 2013)

“Alexander Joel manages to give the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande a huge boost, always paying careful attention to a careful balance of colours in which he sculpts some beautiful sounds.” (Le Courier, April 2013)

“Alexander Joel's conducting was outstanding.” (The Spectator, March 2013)

“Alexander Joel, making his Royal Opera debut, was a new name to me. On the basis of his lively, vital conducting, I hope that I shall hear him again soon. No particular points were being made about the score; it was simply treated with respect, allowing the many fascinating aspects of Puccini’s scoring and his musico-dramatic intelligence to shine through. Wagnerisms and modernisms were not underlined; they manifested themselves anyway.” (Mark Berry, The Boulezian, February 2013)

 “There was another debutant in the pit the shape of Alexander Joel, a British conductor who has held distinguished posts in various German opera houses and in Vienna; this showed in his sold grasp of the musics structure and his supportive phrasing, and he coaxed wonderfully supple playing from the orchestra.” (Melanie Eskenazi, What’s On Stage, February 2013)

 “Alexander Joel channelled the orchestra into an emotional and passionate Verdi sound and highlighted explicitly, how subtle and finely dramatic Verdi managed to orchestrate a sound in this rather early piece which was still strong in the bel canto tradition.” (Christian Schütte, Opernnet, December 2012)

"Everything comes over so elegantly, and guest conductor Alexander Joel conducts precisely and effectively...exploding colours, magnificient orchestral sound...the musical side in this union unfolds itself in Tristan-Wagner like reminiscences in Puccini’s orchestral sound…  Joel manages to sublimate the unquestionable and apparent "kitsch" moments by remodelling them in a most delicate lucidity. So his interpretation achieves the highest level of emotion, which an opera like this one needs.” (Werner Theurich, Der Spiegel, November 2012)

"Alexander Joel leads the Hamburg Philharmonic elegantly, with flowing tempos, a crystal clear sound without any hint of heaviness in it.” (Jan Brachmann, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, November 2012)

"There is a very dramatic, somehow "early Hollywood" sounding element in this music, which has strong emotionally stirring moments, in an opera which nonetheless has a rather transparent instrumentation. Alexander Joel interprets this score with the highly motivated Hamburg Philharmonic like a small drama, with plenty of dramatic moments. The music shudders and undulates from the orchestra pit, without ever sounding forced in any way.” (Tom. R. Schulz, Hamburger Abendblatt, November 2012)

“The musical side unfolds with tristanesque-wagnerian reminiscences in Puccini’s orchestral sound, with Alexander Joel transcending the (doubtlessly existent) moments of “Kitsch” with sophisticated subtlety.” (Werner Theurich, Der Spiegel, November 2012)

“Alexander Joel and the well-disposed [Hamburg] Philharmonic bring [Puccini’s score] to life as an intimate play with lots of reserves in volume. [The sound] surges and trembles from the pit without Joel ever having to push it.” (Tom R Schulz, Hamburger Abendblatt, November 2012)

“Alexander Joel is a Puccini fan and specialist. He tackles the score with confidence, but also celebrates the brittle, disappearing sounds, which – away from the pastose lines of melody - make Puccini suddenly appear modern. This is brave and puts Puccini into a new context.” (Andreas Berger, Braunschweiger Zeitung, November 2012)