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Elsewhere

High Voltage Tosca in Cologne

I saw two operas consecutively at Oper Koln. First, the utterly bewildering Lucia di Lammermoor; then Thilo Reinhardt’s thrilling Tosca. His staging was pure operatic joy with some Hitchcockian provocations.

Haitink at the Lucerne Festival

Bernard Haitink’s monumental Bruckner and Mahler performances with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO) got me hooked on classical music. His legendary performance of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C-minor, where in the Finale loosened plaster fell from the Concertgebouw ceiling, is still recounted in Amsterdam.

BBC Prom 45 - Janáček: The Makropulos Affair

Karita Mattila was born to sing Emilia Marty, the diva around whom revolves Leoš Janáček's The Makropulos Affair (Věc Makropulos). At Prom 45, she shone all the more because she was conducted by Jirí Belohlávek and performed alongside a superb cast from the National Theatre, Prague, probably the finest and most idiomatic exponents of this repertoire.

Two Tales of Offenbach: Opera della Luna at Wilton's Music Hall

‘Two outrageous operas in one crazy evening,’ reads the bill. Hyperbole? Certainly not when the operas are two of Jacques Offenbach’s more off-the-wall bouffoneries and when the company is Opera della Luna whose artistic director, Jeff Clarke, is blessed with the comic imagination and theatrical nous to turn even the most vacuous trivia into a sharp and sassy riotous romp.

Britten Untamed! Glyndebourne: A Midsummer Night's Dream

This performance of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at Glyndebourne was so good that it was the highlight of the whole season, making the term ‘revival’ utterly irrelevant. Jakub Hrůša is always stimulating, but on this occasion, his conducting was so inspired that I found myself closing my eyes in order to concentrate on what he revealed in Britten's quirky but brilliant score. Eyes closed in this famous production by Peter Hall, first seen in 1981?

Salzburg encores

A staged piano recital and an opera as a concert.  Pianist András Schiff accompanied the Salzburg Marionette Theater at the Mozarteum Grosser Saal and Anna Netrebko sang Manon Lescaut at the Grosses Festspielhaus.

Leah Crocetto at Santa Fe

On August 4, 2016, soprano Leah Crocetto and accompanist Tamara Sanikidze gave a recital at the Scottish Rite Center in Santa Fe New Mexico. A winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions and the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Contest, this year Crocetto was singing Donna Anna in Santa Fe Opera’s excellent Don Giovanni.

Angela Meade at Sante Fe

On July 31, 2016, against the ethereal beauty of the main hall in the Scottish Rite Center, soprano Angela Meade and pianist Joe Illick gave a recital offering both opera and art songs ranging in origin from early nineteenth century Europe to mid twentieth century America. Many in the audience probably remembered Meade’s recent excellent portrayal of Norma at Los Angeles Opera.

Turco in Italia in Pesaro

When more is definitely more, and less would indeed be less. Two of the biggest names in Italian theater art collide in an eponymous theater.

Proms Chamber Music 5: Shakespeare at 400

It was the fifth Proms Chamber Music concert at Cadogan Hall this season, and we were celebrating Shakespeare’s 400th. And, given the extent and range of the composers and artists, and the diversity and profundity of the musical achievement inspired by the Bard, we could probably keep celebrating in this fashion ad infinitum.

La donna del lago in Pesaro

Each August the bleak and leaky, 12,000 seat Arena Adriatica (home of the famed Pesaro basketball team) magically transforms itself into an improvised opera house that boasts the ultimate in opera chic — exemplary Rossini production standards for its now twelve hundred seats.

Proms at … Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

This highly enjoyable Prom, part of 2016’s ‘Proms at …’ mini-series, took as its guiding concept the reopening of London’s theatres following the Restoration, focusing in particular upon musical and dramatic responses to Shakespeare. Purcell, rightly, loomed large, with John Blow and Matthew Locke joining him. Receiving their Proms premieres were the excerpts from Timon of Athens and those from Locke’s The Tempest.

Santa Fe: Straussian Sweet Nothings

With all the bombast of the presidential campaigns rattling in our heads, with invectives being exchanged and measured discussion all but absent, how utterly lovely to retreat and relax into the harmonious soundscape and well-reasoned debate posed in Strauss’ Capriccio, on magnificent display at Santa Fe Opera.

Santa Fe’s Civil War Gounod

When we entered the Crosby Theatre for Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette the stage was surprisingly dominated by a somber, semi-circular black mausoleum, many chambers inscribed with scrambled names of US Civil War era dead.

Coolly Elegant Vanessa in the Desert

Molten passions were seething just below the icy Nordic exterior of Santa Fe Opera’s wholly masterful production of Barber’s Vanessa.

Le Comte Ory, Seattle

Farce is probably the most difficult of dramatic comedy sub-genres to put across. A farce got up in the stately robes of opera sets its presenters an even higher bar. Presenting an operatic farce on a notoriously chilly and cavernous auditorium is to risk catastrophe.

Racette’s Golden Girl in New Mexico

Fan interest began raging when Santa Fe Opera engaged venerable artist Patricia Racette to make her role debut as Minnie in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West.

Santa Fe’s Mozart Cast Sweeps All Before It

A funny thing happened on the way to Andalusia.

Die Liebe der Danae in Salzburg

The tale of a Syrian donkey driver. And, yes, the donkey stole the show! The competition was intense — the Vienna Philharmonic and the Grosses Festspielhaus in full production regalia for starters.

Snape Proms: Bostridge sings Brahms and Schumann

Two men, one woman. Both men worshipped and enshrined her in their music. The younger man was both devotee of and rival to the elder.


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04 Mar 2005

Opera Colorado Announces New Season

DENVER, CO—President and General Director Peter Russell and Artistic Director James Robinson announced today the company’s 2005-2006 season as the company prepares to move to its new state-of-the-art home, the Ellie Caulkins Opera House at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. For Opera Colorado patrons, the new opera house will offer unprecedented patron services: increased legroom, more restrooms, spacious lobbies, premium sightlines from all seating locations, superb acoustics, and an exclusive donor lounge. The move allows Opera Colorado to add performances and spread out its three annual productions over the course of a traditional season. »

03 Mar 2005

Zeffirelli Takes On Muti

It is the most fabled opera house in the world, whose reopening was lauded as one of the big events in music. Yet just three months later, La Scala is being paralysed by a crisis of Verdian theatricality that has led to rebellion and strikes, and is now prompting a head on clash between two of the titans of contemporary opera. »

02 Mar 2005

New York City Opera's 2005-6 Season

The New York City Opera said Tuesday that it would offer six new productions during its 2005-6 season, including two contemporary works: “The Little Prince” by Rachel Portman and “Lysistrata, or the Nude Goddess” by Mark Adamo. In releasing details of the new season, City Opera said its offerings would skew toward the modern. New productions also include “The Mines of Sulphur,” by Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, which was given its premiere in London in 1965; Paul Dukas’s “Ariane et Barbe-bleu” (1907); the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta “Patience” (1881); and “Capriccio,” the last opera by Richard Strauss, first performed in 1942. »

02 Mar 2005

Opera Colorado Gala to Feature Jake Heggie Work For Renée Fleming

Soprano Renée Fleming, one of opera’s biggest names, heads a star-studded parade of 12 singers set to perform at the Sept. 10 gala opening of the $86 million Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Opera Colorado announced Monday. »

01 Mar 2005

Royal Holloway-British Library Lectures in Musicology

MUSIC AND COURTLINESS The elite civilisation of Europe in the central and later Middle ages is often spoken of as a ‘courtly’ one, where the ‘courts’ at issue include the households of secular magnates, bishops and abbots. Men and women of exalted station had always possessed courts in the West, since Roman imperial times, but after approximately 1050 writings from Western Europe refer with increasing frequency to a quality of ‘courtliness’, or curialitas. A music theorist of c1100, whom we know only by the name ‘Johannes’, is the first European writer to identify certain kinds of music as inherently ‘courtly’ (curialis) and therefore appropriate to courtliness. Since his treatise is a technical one, we can trace this courtliness in terms of actual musical procedures. We can also place him, with some confidence, exactly where other sources lead us to expect him, in the episcopal and indeed imperial milieux of ‘Germany’. »

01 Mar 2005

Whither Classical Music?

EXACTLY 100 years ago Sir Edward Elgar delivered his first lecture at the University of Birmingham, where he had been persuaded to become the professor of music. With the Enigma Variations and Pomp and Circumstance Marches being played everywhere, the 47-year-old composer was at the pinnacle of his fame and creative powers. So anything he said was bound to resonate. »

27 Feb 2005

Outsourcing Hits Wexford Festival

RIP-OFF Ireland has reached the opera house. Wexford Festival is hiring an eastern European orchestra because it says that the local equivalent is €150,000 more expensive. »

26 Feb 2005

More Fallout from Dismissal of Fontana

ROME – Milan’s La Scala opera house has fired its top administrator, sparking angry protests from employees who have threatened to bring the curtain down on more performances, news reports said. La Scala’s board of directors on Thursday dismissed Superintendent Carlo Fontana, who had a rift with conductor Riccardo Muti, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported. Fontana’s post will be taken over by Mauro Meli, director of La Scala’s theatrical division. »

26 Feb 2005

Lyric Workshop Opens at the Paris Opéra

Il y a eu l’Opéra studio de Louis Erlo, l’Ecole d’art lyrique immortalisée par Michel Sénéchal, puis le Centre de formation lyrique : à chaque nouveau directeur, la structure pédagogique de l’Opéra de Paris où sont encadrés les jeunes chanteurs change d’appellation. Gérard Mortier a annoncé récemment à la presse la création de l’Atelier lyrique, dont il a confié la direction à Christian Schirm, ancien adjoint d’Hugues Gall à Genève et à Paris. Comme l’a souligné Mortier avec un mélange de malice et d’affection, Schirm aspirait à prendre la direction d’un théâtre d’opéra : la mission qu’il lui a confiée pourrait être une préparation idéale à cette future tâche… »

25 Feb 2005

La Scala Dismisses Fontana

MILANO – Il sovrintendente del Teatro alla Scala, Carlo Fontana, è stato rimosso. Lo ha stabilito il Cda della teatro che in una nota rilasciata al termine della riunione fa sapere di aver revocato «con effetto immediato, il Sovrintendente dottor Carlo Fontana, affidando l’incarico al direttore della Divisione Teatro alla Scala, maestro Mauro Meli». »

24 Feb 2005

Richard Strauss Festival Begins 27 February at the Semperoper

The Saxonian capital of Dresden has long been associated with the operas of Richard Strauss, many of which were originally premiered at the city’s exquisite Semper Opera during Strauss’s lifetime. . . . [N]o less than six all-Strauss performances in late February and early March, encompassing four towering operas, an orchestral concert, and a Recital by Dame Felicity Lott. The operas will be Salome, Elektra, Ariadne auf Naxos and Die Frau Ohne Schatten, with stellar casts including such important international artists as Luana DeVol, Susan Anthony, Sumi Jo, Evelyn Herlitzius, Gabriele Schnaut, Petra Lang, Reinhild Runkel, Sophi Koch, Stephen Gould, Günter Neumann, Hans-Joachim Ketelsen, and Alan Titus. The experienced conductors will be Kent Nagano, Wolfgang Rennert, and Michael Boder. In addition to this operatic feast, an orchestra concert under the baton of Ion Marin will offer several works representative of ‘The Young Richard Strauss’ (Macbeth, the Burlesque for Piano and Orchestra, and Aus Italien). Finally, the radiant British soprano Dame Felicity Lott will be the soloist in a Recital showcasing her peerless interpretation of Strauss’ soaring melodic style. »

23 Feb 2005

Katharina Wagner and Doris Dörrie Receive Harsh Treatment in Munich

Zwei Frauen dominierten das Münchner Kulturgeplauder der beiden vergangenen Tage: Wagner-Urenkelin und Bayreuther Wunschmaid Katherina [sic] Wagner inszenierte am Gärtnerplatztheater Lortzings “Waffenschmied”, und “Männer”-Filmemacherin Doris Dörrie brachte einen Abend darauf an der Staatsoper Verdis “Rigoletto” heraus. »

21 Feb 2005

Scottish Opera on the Cutting Edge?

With the major success of his latest opera for Chicago, William Bolcom is America’s musical man of the moment. Yet in Britain he is scarcely a name. A Wedding, his new hit, is based on Robert Altman’s famous film of the same title, then at least we should be aware that he is aslo the composer of A View from the Bridge, an opera inspired in 1999 by the original blank verse version of the play by Arthur Miller who died last week. »

21 Feb 2005

WNO Moves In

When conductor Carlo Rizzi stepped forward at the end of La Traviata to address a delighted audience in his Italian-accented Welsh, he was marking a piece of history. Welsh National Opera had, after 60 years of peripatetic homelessness, for the first time performed on a stage it could call its own. »

21 Feb 2005

Changes in the Recording Industry

Over the past five years, just about everybody in my line of work (including me) has weighed in on the decline of classical-music recording. Norman Lebrecht, the English critic and high-culture gadfly, went so far as to write the industry’s obituary last fall and begin compiling a retrospective list of its 100 greatest achievements. As of last week, his list was up to 23 discs. (It can viewed online at www.scena.org.) »

21 Feb 2005

Classical Music in the Blogosphere

In a post last month on his popular blog about classical music, Alex Ross wrote that the music he loves ``exists off the radar screen of the major media’’ these days. But ``it’s actually kind of exciting,’’ he added. ``If I were in the business of marketing classical music to younger audiences, I’d make a virtue of this. Classical music is the new underground.’‘ »

21 Feb 2005

Survey Reveals Arts More Popular Than Sports

Music, drama and the visual arts really are second nature to the English, a national survey has conclusively shown. While news from Italy this weekend that the United Kingdom is regarded as the most cultured nation in Europe has been met with scepticism, it seems we should have a higher opinion of our chief pastimes on this island. DIY shops, fast food outlets and soccer violence are not even half the picture, it is now clear. »

19 Feb 2005

Troubles at La Scala

MILANO – I lavoratori della Scala scendono in campo dopo che il Cda ha dato mandato al sindaco di «risolvere consensualmente» entro la prossima settimana il rapporto con il sovrintendente Carlo Fontana e proclamano uno sciopero per martedì prossimo, il giorno in cui agli Arcimboldi avrebbe dovuto debuttare La Dama di Picche di Ciaikovski (i possessori del biglietto potranno chiederne il rimborso alla Biglietteria del teatro alla Scala, ndr). »

19 Feb 2005

Merkur Interviews Film Director Doris Dörrie — Rigoletto at Bayerischen Staatsoper

Das kann ja schon mal passieren: Die eigene Tochter verliebt sich ausgerechnet in den blödesten Affen der Welt. Eine Vorstellung zum Verzweifeln. Filmregisseurin Doris Dörrie will ganz bewusst solche Assoziationen wecken – und zwar mit ihrer ersten Münchner Operninszenierung. “Rigoletto”, sagt sie, “ist ein so egoistischer Vater. Aber ich kann ihn verstehen. Auch heute würde jeder von uns, der eine 15-jährige Tochter hat, sie am liebsten wegsperren.” Am kommenden Montag hat im Münchner Nationaltheater Giuseppe Verdis “Rigoletto” Premiere. Es singen u. a. Diana Damrau (Gilda), Mark Delavan (Rigoletto), Ramon Vargas (Herzog). Zubin Mehta dirigiert. »

18 Feb 2005

Oleg Caetani New Music Director at ENO

English National Opera has appointed Oleg Caetani as its next music director. He will begin the position in September 2006, succeeding Paul Daniel who leaves in July this year after eight years in the role. Caetani will divide his time between London and Melbourne, where he is chief conductor and artistic director of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra – a role he began last month on a four-year contract. He plans to take up residence in London. »

18 Feb 2005

The 12th BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition

Contestants from 25 countries have been selected to battle it out in what many consider to be one of the world’s premier singing competitions. »

17 Feb 2005

British Opera's Immigration Problem

The almost constant touring by east European opera and ballet companies continues to be a significant feature of the British cultural scene, and one that requires a little attention. We ought to be aware that the artists involved are working an exhausting schedule in difficult circumstances that British unions rightly would not tolerate. And there is no doubt that their one-night-stand activities steal audiences away from our own subsidised organisations. »

17 Feb 2005

Daily Telegraph Interviews Lisa Gasteen

Australian soprano Lisa Gasteen, who plays Brünnhilde in the second part of the Royal Opera’s ‘Ring’ cycle next month, talks to Rupert Christiansen about her tempestuous route to the top When she was a teenager, Lisa Gasteen was thrown out of a school folk group for singing too loud. Now, established as one of the world’s premier Wagnerian sopranos, her ability to turn up the volume comes in handy. In 2001, she made a triumphant debut at Covent Garden as Isolde; next month, she returns to halloo “Hojotoho” as Brünnhilde in Die Walküre, the second instalment of the Royal Opera’s new production of the Ring, conducted by Antonio Pappano. »