Saturday, September 8, 2018

Georg Festl featured in title role of Saint François d’Assise

Georg Festl as Saint François (Photo: © Stephan Ernst)
Georg Festl created quite a stir with our readers when we introduced him with a shirtless picture back in July.

He's now performing the title role in Olivier Messiaen's Saint François d’Assise at the Staatstheater Darmstadt, which runs through October 28th. The cast includes fellow barihunks Julian Orlishausen as Frère Léon and Johannes Seokhoon Moon as Frère Bernard, along with Katharina Persicke as the Angel, Mickael Spadaccini as the Leper, David Lee as Frère Massée, Michael Pegher as Frére Elie and Werner Volker-Meyer as Frére Sylvestre. Tickets are available online.

This was Messiaen's only opera and it took him eight years to complete. It premiered at the Paris Opera in 1983 and reflects his devout Catholicism.  In searching for a subject, Messiaen pondered dramatizing either Christ's Passion or his Resurrection. Feeling unworthy of either subject, he eventually chose to dramatize the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, which paralleled Christ's chastity, humility, poverty, and suffering. Messiaen also wrote the libretto, consulting Franciscan sources, reading biographies by Thomas of Celano and St. Bonaventure, as well as Francis' own prayers (including Canticle of the Sun). He also cited passages from the Fioretti, Considerations on the Stigmata and the Bible.  

Georg Festl as Saint François (Photo: © Stephan Ernst)
Festl was born in Nuremberg, Germany and studied English and American studies at the University of Music Würzburg. After graduating, he was cast as Artie Green in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard at the Mainfrankentheater Würzburg.  He is a recipient of the Richard-Wagner Society scholarship and the Da-Ponte Society scholarship.

From 2015-2017, he sang at the Theater Augsburg, where he performed in Zemlinsky's Der König Kandaules, Verdi's Macbeth, Les contes d’Hoffmann, Die Csárdásfürstin, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, Tosca and the children's opera Ritter Odilo und der strenge Herr Winter by Mareike Zimmermann.

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