Recently in Commentary
A brand new opera — especially one that is groundbreaking— can really put an opera company on the map. British composer Barry Seaman’s stunning new work, Mirabai, which explores the story of the free thinking, mystic
16th century Hindu princess, Mira, is ambitious on many levels —
artistically, technically and creatively.
Bampton Classical Opera has announced that applications are now open for the
company’s Young Singers’ Competition 2015. This biennial competition was
first launched in 2013 to celebrate Bampton Classical Opera’s 20th
birthday, and is aimed at identifying the finest emerging young opera singers
currently working in the UK.
Anita Rachvelishvili recently performed the title role in Carmen broadcast by The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD. Here she drops by for a little chat with our Maria Nockin.
This is a revised version of my review of the Sept 5th
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Brooklyn Academy of Music. The opera was first performed at Brussels’ La
Monnaie the previous spring.
"Although there are now more people on this planet than there have ever been before, there are fewer dramatic voices. Something is wrong with that equation. I thought there needs to be some sort of helping hand so that dramatic voices don’t fall through the cracks in the system as they advance through their various stages of development."
Anna Prohaska sings Sister Constance in Poulenc’s Dialogues des
Carmélites at the Royal Opera House. In the same month, she’s also in
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Baritone Brandon Coleman’s mother, Linda, knew that 3-year old Brandon
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I met with the embattled artistic director of the Opéra et Orchestre National de Montepellier not to talk about his battles. I simply wanted to know the man who had cast and staged a truly extraordinary Mozart/DaPonte trilogy.
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Matthew Polenzani reprises the role of the Chevalier des Grieux in Jules Massenet’s Manon at the Royal Opera House. “I love coming back to London”, he says, “It’s a very good house and they take care of you as a singer. And the level of music making is unbelievably high”.
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The Flying Dutchman is a transitional piece because Wagner was only beginning to establish his style. He took some aspects from Carl Maria von Weber and others from Italian composers like Vincenzo Bellini.
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On a personal level, I feel that Dolores is almost like Emmeline grown up. Their circumstances are not exactly parallel, but they are both women at very different points in their lives whose stories involve dilemmas with life-changing outcomes.
With the help of Andrew Welch, a London theatrical producer who had adapted several of King’s works for the stage, including this one, I got the rights to both Dolores Claiborne and Misery.
03 Oct 2011
The Inaugural Cambridge Handel Festival: a rosy dawn?
The haughty beauties that are the ancient colleges of Cambridge were definitely feeling the heat this past weekend, and not even the cooling streams of the Cam and its tributaries could assuage the heat of an Indian summer in the Fens of Eastern England.
Luckily, there was an alternative to the
sweltering pavements and swirling crowds of Freshers Week: the inaugural
Cambridge Handel Festival announced its arrival on the period music scene with
a weekend of the coolest venues and the most exciting music-making. There is
already a well-established Handel “hard core” living in and around
the city — the Cambridge Handel Opera Group is well regarded — but
it was something of an act of faith on the part of the organisers (Cambridge
Early Music) to devote an entire weekend to all things Handelian. It was only
towards the end of the two days, after a scintillating final concert of the
Violin Sonatas by Adrian Butterfield, that it became obvious that the Festival
had not only been an artistic success but had also, most importantly, just
about broken-even financially. In this age of straitened budgets, this is no
London Handel Players [Photo courtesy of NCEM]
The Festival was an innovative mix of events: a guided walk, talks by Handel
experts, specific church services with a Handelian slant, an organ recital by
the hugely talented Mark Williams in the chastely-elegant confines of
Wren’s Pembroke College Chapel, and both instrumental and vocal concerts
which delighted both enthusiasts and casual ticket-buyers alike. The backbone
of the Festival was, one would have to say, Laurence Cummings and his London
Handel Players who featured not only the deeply satisfying playing of both
Adrian Butterfield (violin) and Rachel Brown (flute/recorder) but also
accompanied the evergreen Emma Kirkby with great finesse and sympathetic
musicianship. This latter concert highlighted arias written for soprano Cecilia
Young (later Mrs Arne) by her husband, Lampe and Handel himself and we were
treated to some songs rarely heard before: “Pretty Warblers” and
“By the rushy-fringed bank” were delightful curiosities,
Speaking with various other visitors to this Festival it was obvious that
the variety of events had been a success, as had been the many interesting and
unusual venues. There was a well-produced and informative programme book which
both enlightened the newcomer but also informed the confirmed Handelian —
for instance, the Fitzwilliam Museum in the heart of the city keeps some
manuscript music by the great man which was put on show (with explanatory
notes) especially to coincide with the weekend’s events. One can only
hope that this most lovely of cities will once again feature the works of
Handel and his contemporaries in another such festival: the foundations have
certainly been well-laid.