Ragnar Bohlin conducts the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Chorus

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday (11/27–29) the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus will perform selections from all six cantatas of J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio as chosen specially for these concerts by San Francisco Symphony Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin. Making their SFS debuts in these performances will be soprano Malin Christensson, contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux, tenor Lothar Odinius, and baritone Anders Larsson. These debut performances of Bohlin’s compilation from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio will be sung in English.

RAGNAR BOHLIN – Chorus Director, San Francisco Symphony.
Photo, Roy Manzanares

On crafting this new combination from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio Bohlin says, “I have taken special care to ensure that the story thread is consistent, the transitions are smooth and that the key changes work musically. A performance of all six cantatas from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio can be quite lengthy, and so is usually done over the course of two concerts. My compilation from the cantatas provides an opportunity for audiences to enjoy the music from Bach’s Oratorio in one two-hour concert with the story completely intact. So that audiences can hear the entire story, as told by the tenor narrator Evangelist, our Christmas Oratorio will be sung in English. I’m thankful for the opportunity to present this version of it to San Francisco audiences and am confident the San Francisco Symphony Chorus is going to do an amazing job singing it.”


A native of Sweden, soprano Malin Christensson studied at the Royal College of Music. Her recent operatic engagements have included Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro) at the Aix-en-Provence Festival and in Santiago di Chile; Flower Maiden (Parsifal) at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Miss Wordsworth (Albert Herring) and Dew Fairy (Hänsel und Gretel) at the Glyndebourne Festival; Drusilla (L’incoronazione di Poppea) at the Drottningholms Slottsteater; Sophie (Werther) in Baden-Baden and Papagena (Die Zauberflöte) at the Vienna Festival. She is a BBC New Generation Artist and has recently recorded “Sophie” in Massenet’s Werther with Rolano Villazón soon to be released by Deutsche Grammophon.

German tenor Lothar Odinius studied at the Berlin Academy of Arts. His operatic repertoire includes Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Ferrando (Cosi Fan Tutte), Tamino (Die Zauberflöte) and Arbace (Idomeneo). This season he will tour Canada and the United States under the musical direction of Helmuth Rilling. He appears on various recordings ranging from Baroque to Classic, including Il Vologeso (Nioccolo Jommelli); J.S. Bach’s Geschwinde, ihr wirbelnden Winde BWV 201; Haydn”s Die Schöpfung; Mozart’s Lucio Silla; Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln (Schmidt); and Zemlinsky’s Der Traumgörge.


In 2000, contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux became the first Canadian to win the 1st Prize as well as the Special Prize for Lieder at the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition of Belgium. Winning this prestigious award opened the door to an immediate international career. Her operatic roles include Ursule (Béatrice et Bénédict), Anna (Les Troyens), Orfeo (Orfeo ed Euridice), Bradmante (Alcina), Cornelia (Julio Cesare) Unulfo and Eduige, (Rodelinda), Catherine, (Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher), Third Lady (Die Zauberflöte), Isaura, (Tancredi), Mistress Quickly (Falstaff), Orlando (Orlando Furioso), Flosshilde (Götterdämmerung), and more. In 2005, she made her debut with the Staatsoper Berlin, performing in Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria under René Jacobs.   Later that same year, she performed the role of Mitrena in the world premiere of the opera Motezuma, by Vivaldi, at De Doelen Centre in Rotterdam. She made her US solo debut in 2006 with a recital in Kansas and as a guest soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association.

Swedish baritone Anders Larsson holds a postgraduate diploma from the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm and is a recipient of the Birgit Nilsson Scholarship. Mr. Larsson’s roles at the Stockholm Royal Opera have included the four villains in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, the Count in Le nozze di Figaro, Lescaut in Manon Lescaut, and the title role of Eugene Onegin. His appearances at the Frankfurt Opera have included Germont in La Traviata, the title role of Viktor Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis, and Macduff in Ernest Bloch’s Macbeth. With the Gothenburg Opera, Mr. Larsson has performed Mandryka in Arabella, Escamillo in Carmen, Papageno in The Magic Flute, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Don Alvaro in Il viaggio a Reims, and Falke in Die Fledermaus. During the fall of 2009, Mr. Larsson will create the title role in Daniel Börtz’s opera Goya in its world premiere at the Gothenburg Opera. Mr. Larsson makes his San Francisco Symphony debut with this week’s concerts.


Click here for ticket information: Christmas Oratorio

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at:


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