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 (with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra), a complete new Ring cycle at the 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 seasons, he will also conduct a number of their symphonic programmes, in addition to one new opera production a season.

In 2015/16, Alexander Joel returned to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden for the fourth time for a Carmen revival, having previously conducted La traviata and La bohème (twice), and has been re-invited there again in Autumn 2017. He made his North American debut with the Boston Lyric Opera (Lehar’s Merry Widow) in Spring 2016, and conducted a highly acclaimed Otello in a Michael Thalheimer Production at the Vlaamse Opera. Other productions that season have included 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 Traviata for both the Staatsoper Hamburg and the Volksoper Wien.


The Merry Widow, Boston Lyric Opera
Under the baton of Alexander Joel, the orchestra played admirably and the score’s beloved music reached its mark, as evidenced by a hearty ovation from the large opening night crowd.

Jeremy Eichler, Boston Globe 30.4.2016

...My most unreserved applause goes to British conductor Alexander Joel, who actually studied conducting in Vienna, and who captured Lehár’s true Viennese lilt. This was Joel’s North American debut. If there was anything at all stylish about this production, it was coming from the orchestra pit.

Lloyd Schwartz, Senior editor of Classical Music for New York Arts, The Artery, WBUR Radio

Making his debut with the BLO, conductor Alexander Joel displayed a keen sense of the Viennese idiom, and conducted with vigor. Under his baton, the orchestra sounded particularly fine in a score which is deceptively demanding.

Edge Media Network, Ed Tapper, 1.5.2016

Perhaps because one expects a less sumptuous sound for operetta, the BLO orchestra satisfied more that it sometimes does in the absorptive Shubert Theater. Alexander Joel kept the ensembles lively through an idiomatic understanding of the morphing impulses of the various dance forms and allowed the orchestral soloists to intertwine quite splendidly with the singers when Lehár’s imaginative orchestration demanded it.

Lee Eiseman, The Boston Musical Intelligence, 30.4.2016
Radio Interview for wgbh

Otello, Vlaanders Opera

...The best that can be said for the prdouction 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 palyed 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, John MacCann

...Alexander Joel propelled the Symphonic Orchestra Opera Flanders through Verdi’s marvellous music, driving the piece forward with an energetic current. This momentum saved the production from its uneventful, overly conceptual staging....Joel delivered the monumental moments of the opera with throbbing energy, pulsating rhythms, and a colour-rich pallette...

David Pinedo, Bachtrack, 16.2.2016

...Am Pult des Symphonischen Orchesters der Flämischen Oper lässt es Alexander Joel immer wieder betörend aus der Tiefe der Dunkelheit grummeln und drohen. Doch auch in die Ausbrüche der Leidenschaft, etwa gleich zu Beginn beim Sturmchor, wirft er sich mit Vehemenz, um dann wieder streichersamt durchzuatmen....

Online Musik Magazin, Roberto Becker, 16.2.2016

L’avantage d’une mise en scène aussi simple est qu’elle laisse libre cours à la musique. Et là, on est à la fête : Alexander Joel a à peine 40 ans, mais il mériterait d’être cité parmi les meilleures baguettes d’opéra en activité. Ce qu’il parvient à tirer comme sève de l’orchestre de l’opéra de Flandre tient du prodige. La fosse se transforme sous sa direction en un volcan d’où émergent tonnerre, grondements, soupirs, cris, chuchotements. Dès l’ouverture et sa tempête, on est pris à la gorge par une intensité sonore et dramatique qui ne se relâchera plus, deux heures durant. Quadrature du cercle : cette orgie sonore ne se fait jamais au détriment des chanteurs, que Joel couve jalousement, veillant à conserver entre le plateau et les instrumentistes une cohésion pas une seule fois prise en défaut. Dans une œuvre aussi difficile qu’Otello, un tel résultat relève de l’exploit.

14.2.2016, Forum opera, Dominique Joucken

(translation of the above)

The advantage of such a minimal staging is that it allows the music to fully unfold. And on this point, there is a call for celebration: Alexander Joel is barely 40, but deserves to be classified as one of the best opera conductors in the music world. What he manages to extract from the orchestra of the Flanders Opera is miraculous. The orchestra under his conducting transforms itself into a volcano, out of which thunder, growling, sighs, screams, whispers spew. As soon as the ouverture starts with storm, we are grabbed by the throat by a dramatic and sonorous intensity that will not leave us for the next 2 hours. And the best part is: for all this intensity, this orgiastic intensity never covers or acts detrimentally to the singers, who Joel covets lovingly, and with whom always manages to keep a perfect coordination between the orchestra and the stage during the entire performance. In an opera as difficult as Otello, this is some exploit.

14.2.2016, Forum Opera, Dominique Joucken

Carmen, Royal opera House

"...Brilliant disponiert....Es bleibt also genügend Platz für ein fulminantes Dirigat: Alexander Joel hatte das brilliant disponierte und nahezu militärisch exekutierende Orchester am kurzen Band, zog die tempi an, als wolle er Errinerungen an die legendäre Fulminanz eines Carlos Kleiber wecken, und ließ zu keinen Zeitpunkt die botwendige Elastizität fehlen. Aber nicht nur das Orchester hatte einem ganz grossen Abend als einer der weltbesten seiner Art...."

Opernglas, Januar 2016 Edition, Michael Lehnert

"...The conductor Alexander Joel did a good job, in my opinion, with the orchestra of the ROH, wonderful as usual. The overture was at a crazy speed, but the result was great. The chorus got a bit lost in a few places, and he helped them with very clear gestures of his hands, forcing everybody a tempo again. The strange thing (maybe not so strange) is that the most difficult choral part, the one sung by the women telling the story of the duel with the knife (La Carmencità! La Manuelità!) came out PERFECT, even if it was extremely fast. Moreover, in the libretto the duel happens outside of the stage, while in this case they showed it while the chorus tells the story. The effect was very exciting...."

opera Seconda me, Giulia Tonelli

"...Alexander Joel - who made a fine job of Puccini in the summer, delivered a sensitive, punchy interpretation of the score...."

An opera Notebook

Turandot, Opera Zürich

"...The marvelous Philharmonia Zürich, under the baton of Alexander Joel, relisched those rich tonalities. The five different Choral configurations, including the childrens chorus backstage, joined forces to make a brilliant musical backdrop..."

Sarah Batschelet, 13.12.2015, BACHTRACK

"...Alexander Joel was in full and impressive command of the score amd elicited some fine playing from the Philharmna Zürich, especially the busy percussive section...."

John Rhodes, Opera News 13.12.2015

"...Souverän die musikalische Gestaltung, die unter der Leitungvon Alexander Joel die grossartige Farbpalette der Partitur voll zur Geltung bringt...."

Herbert Büttiker, 13.12.2015

Manon, Opera Municipale de Marseille

"...Or divine surprise, cette nouvelle distribution sous la direction du chef viennois Alexander Joel vous cueille dès les première notes, dès les premiers accords tranchants d’un orchestre qui maintiendra la tension jusqu’au dernier soupir final. Alexander Joel tient son petit monde au doigt et l’œil ; vigilant, attentif, bienveillant. L’harmonie entre le plateau et la fosse est tout de suite évident. L’orchestre de l’opéra donne le meilleur, les chœurs sont impeccables et les chanteurs se dépassent. Le chef rend pleinement justice à la musique de Massenet et l’orchestre, loin de se contenter du rôle d’accompagnateur, devient un protagoniste à part entière...."

La Marseillese, Septembre 2015

"....L’Orchestre de l’Opéra récolte aussi les suffrages. La baguette fine d’Alexander Joël est à l’écoute du plateau. Le maestro modère à bon escient la masse orchestrale, jusque dans les infimes nuances...."

Journal Zibeline
Octobre 2015

Turandot, Deutsche Oper Berlin, September 2015

"...Pure Prachtentfaltung, als wolle man die stupide Nüchternheit der Bühne ausgleichen, fand im Orchestergraben unter der Leitung von Alexander Joel statt..."

20.9.2015, Der Opernfreund Ingrid Wanja