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Oxford Lieder Festival 2015 - Sholto Kynoch interview

Last year's Oxford Lieder Festival made something of a splash when it encompassed all of Schubert's songs, performed in the space of three weeks. This year's festival, the 14th, which runs from 16 to 31 October 2015 has a rather different, yet still eye-catching theme; Singing Words: Poets and their Songs.

Bellini I puritani : gripping musical theatre

Vividly gripping drama is perhaps not phrase which you might expect to be used to refer to Bellini's I Puritani, but that was the phrase which came into my mind after seen Annilese

Strong music values in 1940's setting for Handel's opera examining madness

As part of their Madness season, presenting three very contrasting music theatre treatments of madness (Handel's Orlando, Bellini's I Puritani and Sondheim's Sweeney Todd) Welsh National Opera (WNO) presented Handel's Orlando at the Wales Millennium Centre on Saturday 3 October 2015.

Bostridge, Isserlis, Drake, Wigmore Hall

Benjamin Britten met Mstislav Rostropovich in 1960, in London, where the cellist was performing Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto. They were introduced by Shostakovich who had invited Britten to share his box at the Royal Festival Hall, for this concert given by the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra. Britten’s biographer, Humphrey Carpenter reports that a few days before Britten had listened to Rostropovich on the radio and remarked that he ‘“thought this the most extraordinary ‘cello playing I’d ever heard”’.

Falstaff at Forest Lawn

Sir John Falstaff appears in three plays by William Shakespeare: the two Henry IV plays and The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Music and Drama Interwoven in Chicago Lyric’s new Le nozze di Figaro

The opening performance of the 2015-2016 season at Lyric Opera of Chicago was the premiere of a new production of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro under the direction of Barbara Gaines and featuring the American debut of conductor Henrik Nánási.

La traviata, Philadelphia

Opera Philadelphia mixes boutique performances of avant-garde opera in a small house with more traditional productions of warhorse operas performed in the Academy of Music, America’s oldest working opera house.

Il Trovatore at Dutch National Opera

Four lonely people, bound by love and fate, with inexpressible feelings that boil over in the pressure cooker of war. Àlex Ollé’s conception of Il Trovatore for Dutch National Opera hits the bull’s eye.

The Barber of Seville, ENO London

This may be the twelfth revival of Jonathan Miller’s 1987 production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville for English National Opera, but the ready laughter from the auditorium and the fresh musical and dramatic responses from the stage suggest that it will continue to amuse audiences and serve the house well for some time to come.

Monteverdi: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, Bostridge, Barbican London

The third and final instalment of the Academy of Ancient Music’s survey of Monteverdi’s operas at the Barbican began and ended in darkness; the red glow of the single candle was an apt visual frame for a performance which was dedicated to the memory of the late Andrew Porter, the music critic and writer whose learned, pertinent and eloquent words did so much to restore Monteverdi, Cavalli and other neglected music-dramatists to the operatic stage.

English Touring Opera - Debussy, Massenet and Offenbach

English Touring Opera’s recent programming has been ambitious and inventive, and the results have been rewarding. We had two little-known Donizetti operas, The Siege of Calais and The Wild Man of the West Indies, in spring 2015, while autumn 2014 saw the company stage comedy by Haydn (Il mondo della luna) and romantic history by Handel (Ottone).

Boesch and Martineau Schubert Complete Songs, Wigmore Hall, London

The Wigmore Hall's complete Schubert Songs series of 40 concerts began with a recital by Florian Boesch and Graham Johnson. (Read my review here). If anything, though, the second concert, where Boesch was accompanied by Malcolm Martineau, was even better. The programme was beautifully planned, and the performance exceptional, even by the very high standards of the Wigmore Hall.

Shostakovich Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk - ENO London

It took artistic courage to choose Shostakovich Lady Macbeth of Mtensk to start the ENO's 2015-2016 season. Shostakovich isn't an easy sell, and so full of sex and violence that some minds - like Josef Stalin - would be aghast. But Mark Wigglesworth is passionate about Shostakovich , and as new Music Director of the ENO, he's making a point. Good opera needs artistic vision.

Berg Wozzeck Fabio Luisi Zurich Opera

Zurich Opera brought Alban Berg Wozzeck to the Royal Festival Hall, London . Fabio Luisi conducted Philharmonia Zurich and a very good cast in a concert performance. With all pretence at staging removed (apart from natural good acting) we could focus on the sheer musical audacity of Berg's writing, and pick up on the processes the music employs to create the drama.

“Nessun Dorma — The Puccini Album”

Sounds swirl with an urgent emotionality and meandering virtuosity on Jonas Kaufmann’s new Puccini album—the “real one”, according to Kaufmann, whose works were also released earlier this year on Decca records, allegedly without his approval.

Verismo Double Header in Los Angeles

LA Opera got its season off to an auspicious beginning with starry revivals of Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci.

Viva Verdi at Opera Las Vegas

On September 9, 2015, Opera Las Vegas presented James Sohre’s production of Viva Verdi at the Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz. It was a delightful evening of arias, duets and ensembles by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901). The program included many of the composer’s blockbuster arias and scenes from famous operas such as Aida, La traviata, and Macbeth.

Barbera Sings a Fascinating Recital in San Diego

On Saturday, September 19, San Diego Opera opened its 2015-2016 season with a recital by tenor René Barbera. This was the first Polly Puterbaugh Emerging Artist Award Recital and no artist could have been more deserving than the immensely talented Barbera.

Sweeney Todd at the San Francisco Opera

Did the iconic “off-beat” and “serious” American musical hold the stage of the War Memorial Opera House? The excited audience (standees three deep) thought so and roared their appreciation.

Sondra Radvanovsky Stars in the Title Role of Anna Bolena

The First of Three Donizetti Queens She Will Sing at the Met This Season



11 Oct 2015

Oxford Lieder Festival 2015 - Sholto Kynoch interview

Last year's Oxford Lieder Festival made something of a splash when it encompassed all of Schubert's songs, performed in the space of three weeks. This year's festival, the 14th, which runs from 16 to 31 October 2015 has a rather different, yet still eye-catching theme; Singing Words: Poets and their Songs.  »

Recently in Commentary

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05 Jun 2013

Marseille, Capital of European Culture

Marseille woke up this past January 11 stunned to find itself number two on the New York Times list of 46 places you should visit in 2013 (Rio was number one, Paris just made the list at number 46). »

04 Jun 2013

Rossini Maometto Secondo at Garsington Opera - David Parry speaks

Garsington Opera at Wormsley is producing the British premiere of Giacomo Rossini´s Maometto Secondo. Garsington Opera is well-known for its role in reviving Rossini rarities in Britain. Since 1994, there have been 14 productions of 12 Rossini operas, and David Parry has conducted eleven since 2002. He´s very enthusiastic about Maometto Secondo.  »

17 May 2013

Michele Mariotti conducts La donna del lago

Rossini’s La donna del Lago at the Royal Opera House boasts a superstar cast. Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez are perhaps the best in these roles in the business at this time. Yet the conductor Michele Mariotti is also hot news.  »

01 May 2013

Kate Lindsey at Glyndebourne

It would seem a logical step for the mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey to take on the role of the Composer in Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. »

29 Apr 2013

Douglas Boyd on Garsington Opera at Wormsley

“Aim for excellence”, says Douglas Boyd, new Artistic Director of Garsington Opera at Wormsley, “and the audience will follow you”.  »

23 Apr 2013

A Chat with Aida Designer Zandra Rhodes

When I spoke with Zandra Rhodes, she was in her large San Diego workspace, which she described as having walls decorated with her own huge black and white drawings.  »

05 Mar 2013

An Interview with Virginia Zeani

Palm Beach audiences are famous for their glamour, but in recent years a special star has sparkled amid the jewels, sequins, feathers and furs (whatever the weather).  »

03 Mar 2013

Bel Canto Queen Jessica Pratt

When the soprano Jessica Pratt first arrived in Italy, she had yet to learn the language or sing in a staged opera.  »

02 Mar 2013

James Conlon Renews Contract with LA Opera

On Wednesday evening, February 20, Los Angeles Opera gave a press conference at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion featuring Music Director James Conlon.  »

13 Feb 2013

The New Season at Teatro Real

It is another “What Could Have Been” moment. The debut of Brokeback Mountain by Charles Wuorinen is part of Madridʼs Teatro Real coming season. »

11 Feb 2013

Festival d’Aix en Provence 2013

Plans for July’s Aix-en-Provence Festival were announced and opera is, of course, at the center of the program with a particularly noteworthy Richard Strauss production.  »

06 Feb 2013

Amsterdam Welcomes Stanislavski Opera

Amsterdam enjoys a rare visit from Moscow’s Stanislavski Opera at the landmark Koninklijk Carre Theater, for three performances of Tchaikovski’s Eugene Onegin and a Sunday morning opera concert, on February 1st-3rd. »

01 Jan 2013

A New Festival Hall for Erl

A new festival hall has been inaugurated in the small town of Erl in the Tyrolean mountains.  »

28 Nov 2012

Rome Opera Opens New Season

Yesterday, Conductor Riccardo Muti opened the Rome Opera, where he is “honorary conductor for life,” with a gala presentation of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra.  »

10 Nov 2012

Michael Spyres: Star Ascendant

When tenor Michael Spyres takes the stage at Carnegie Hall on December 5th, he will be in heady company. »

15 Oct 2012

Rewriting the Unwritten Law: Gilliam and Ghent Tackle Damnation

One of the most noteworthy and controversial productions in recent memory arrived in Belgium with hurricane force as Director Terry Gilliam’s inaugural opera, an inspired interpretation of Hector Berlioz’s Le Damnation de Faust, blasted into Ghent, followed by a run in Antwerp. »

09 Oct 2012

Florian Boesch on Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin

Florian Boesch is singing Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin at the Oxford Lieder Festival on Sunday 14th October. This won’t be routine. Radically challenging conventional interpretation, Boesch says “I don’t believe it ends in suicide” »

05 Oct 2012

Exciting Glyndebourne 2013 season

Exciting developments at Glyndebourne ! Many new initiatives which could transform Glyndebourne from a summer festival to a truly international, year-round opera experience.  »

28 Sep 2012

Good News for Opera in Barcelona

The recently released numbers for the past season at Barcelona’s opera Liceu gives some hope for the future.  »

12 Sep 2012

New Attendance Record for Salzburg

A record 278,978 people attended events of the 2012 edition of the famed Salzburg Festival in Austria, the largest number since its founding 92 years ago. »

13 Aug 2012

Another Bayreuth Stunner

Just after things were settling after the scandal of baritone Evgeny Nitikin supposed swastika tattoo at the Bayreuth Festival, another one seems likely to take its place.  »

08 Aug 2012

Opera Tomorrow: Wolf Trap Today

Three quarters of the way through this discussion, a question that inhabits the mind of anyone putting any thought to the subject — but no one dare ask — was rhetoricised, “what is opera?”  »

30 Jul 2012

Laurent Pelly on Glyndebourne's Ravel Double Bill

The Glyndebourne Festival highlight this year could be the Ravel double bill - L’heure espagnole and L'enfant et les sortilèges. Laurent Pelly directs. Anyone who saw his brilliant Humperdinck Hansel und Gretel at Glyndebourne in 2008 will know what to expect - a staging of great imagination and verve, true to the spirit of the composer. »

18 Jul 2012

Changes at Florida Grand Opera

Effective July 30, Cassidy E. Fitzpatrick will be the new artistic administrator of Florida Grand Opera. a position open since the dismissal of Kelly Anderson last year. »

07 Jul 2012

Changes in Bratislava

A change of leadership has been announced today by Bratislava’s Slovak National Theatre. In the opera division, famed tenor Peter Dvorsky, the current artistic director, is to be replaced on August 1st by the Austrian conductor Friedrich Haider.  »

04 Jul 2012

Honors for Bayreuth’s “other” house

Bayreuth’s opera house has been awarded the honor of UNESCO World Heritage status. If you think that means Wagner’s festival house in the same city, with its excellent acoustics and uncomfortable seats, you will be mistaken. »

04 Jul 2012

Continued Progress at the Vienna State Opera

In his second season, intendant Dominique Meyer has chalked up increases both in tickets sold and earnings at the Vienna State Opera.  »

03 Jul 2012

Lots of Loose Ends in Cologne

The fall-out from the very public display of anger on both sides continues in Cologne. Uwe Erich Laufenberg, 51, director of the city’s opera, one of the leading operas in Germany, was fired with immediate effect on June 22.  »

26 Jun 2012

Bavarian State Opera Renews Nicolas Bachler’s Contract

Nicolas Bachler, intendant of the Bavarian State Opera, has had his contract extended through August 2018.  »

09 Jun 2012

Duisburg Petition Drive Proves Strong Support for Local Opera

Amidst crucial, ongoing financial concerns about future funding for opera and ballet throughout Germany’s highly populous North Rhein-Westphalia region, a diverse gathering at the Duisburg Theatre verified sincere grassroots support for Deutsche Oper Am Rhein and the current partnership with nearby Dusseldorf. »

31 May 2012

More Delays for the Berlin State Opera

The re-opening of Berlin State Opera Unter den Linden has been set back for another year.  »

30 May 2012

Lyric Opera Posts Annual Report

The Lyric Opera of Chicago announced their financial figures in their annual report and “balanced its budget” for the 2011-2012 season, according to general director Anthony Freud.  »

30 May 2012

Thunder Storm at the Theater an der Wien

Conflicts like this usually remain inside opera house walls. The three Viennese daily newspapers carried headlines reporting that Oscar-winning director William Friedkin called the intendant of the Theater an der Wien a “liar.”  »

26 May 2012

Garsington Opera at Wormsley

Director David Freeman tells why this is an event worth experiencing in the Olympic year.  »

09 May 2012

Torsten Kerl to Perform Tannhäuser

Casting changes continue at the Bayreuth Festival, now only three months away.  »

02 May 2012

The Kathleen Ferrier Awards 2012

This year’s Kathleen Ferrier Awards final was both a competition and a celebration, marking as it did the centenary anniversary of the great singer’s birth. »

26 Apr 2012

Christopher Koelsch Tapped by LA Opera

Christopher Koelsch has been tapped Wednesday as the new president and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Opera. Koelsch, 41, was the opera’s chief financial officer and will take the new post September 15. »

24 Apr 2012

Ignacio Garcia-Belenguer Appointed

Ignacio Garcia-Belenguer, 45, has been named as the new general manager of Madrid’s opera, Teatro Real.  »

24 Apr 2012

Uwe Eric Laufenberg Resigns

The director of the Cologne Opera, Uwe Eric Laufenberg, has confirmed at the press conference this afternoon that he will leave his post at the end of the coming season. His contract runs until 2016. »

23 Apr 2012

Denoke Bows Out of Bayreuth

Soprano Angela Denoke announced on Wednesday that she would not be appearing as Brünnhilde, one of the critically important roles, at the 2013 Bayreuth Festival Ring Cycle.  »

18 Apr 2012

Cologne Opera to Cancel Next Season?

On Tuesday evening, Cologne Opera’s director indicated he was planning to cancel the next season, 2012-2013.  »

17 Apr 2012

Chinese Conductor to Lead Italian Opera

The Chinese conductor and pianist Xu Zhong will be the new artistic director of an Italian opera house, the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania.  »

17 Apr 2012

Mishap at the Musikfreunde

Tenor Johan Botha had just started carving his steak when his phone rang. A director of Vienna’s Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde was on the line with an emergency request.  »

12 Apr 2012

International HD Broadcast of Rigoletto by Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House started doing opera and ballet broadcasts before many other houses, and is now expanding its schedule. On April 17th, Verdi’s Rigoletto is being streamed live in over 600 cinemas in 21 countries.  »

31 Mar 2012

Gerald Barry: The Importance of Being Earnest

Irish composer Gerald Barry’s opera The Importance of Being Earnest premieres at the Barbican, London on April 26th. It is a joint commission between the Barbican and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  »

24 Mar 2012

Royal Opera House 2012-13 season

“Opera is an emotional fitness centre”, says Kasper Holten, new Director of Opera, announcing the Royal Opera House 2012-13 season which mixes daring with prudence. »

19 Mar 2012

Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Finals Concert

A major part of the rejuvenation of opera in the 21st century is the cultivation of young singers.  »

09 Mar 2012

The Los Angeles Opera — A Cultural Icon in Downtown LA

Los Angeles is often identified as “tinsel town,” a cultural wasteland. The city has long been considered as artistically irrelevant. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially with the arrival of the Los Angeles Opera in 1984. »

29 Feb 2012

Gran Teatre del Liceu Reverses Course

Barcelona’s opera, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, has reversed course and restored cuts in the current season made earlier this month.  »

27 Feb 2012

The Opera House that Almost Wasn’t — Le Palais Garnier in Paris

One of the main performing arts venues for opera, ballet and modern dance is Le Palais Garnier in Paris.  »

26 Feb 2012

Bryan Hymel, Rusalka’s Prince

New Orleans native Bryan Hymel is singing the role of The Prince in Antonin Dvořák's Rusalka at the Royal Opera House, London. »