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René Pape, Joseph Calleja, Kristine Opolais, Boito Mefistofele, Munich

Arrigo Boito Mefistofele was broadcast livestream from the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich last night. What a spectacle !

Calixto Bieito’s The Force of Destiny

The monochrome palette of Picasso’s Guernica and the mural’s anti-war images of suffering dominate Calixto Bieito’s new production of Verdi’s The Force of Destiny for English National Opera.

Morgen und Abend — World Premiere, Royal Opera House

The world premiere of Morgen und Abend by Georg Friedrich Haas at the Royal Opera House, London — so conceptually unique and so unusual that its originality will confound many.

Company XIV Combines Classic and Chic in an Exquisite Cinderella

Company XIV’s production of Cinderella is New York City theater at its finest. With a nod to the court of Louis the XIV and the grandiosity of Lully’s opera theater, Company XIV manages to preserve elements of the French Baroque while remaining totally innovative, and never—in fact, not once for the entire two and a half hour show—falls prey to the predictable. Not one detail is left to chance in this finely manicured yet earthily raw production of Cinderella.

Monteverdi by The Sixteen at Wigmore Hall

This was a concert where immense satisfaction was derived equally from the quality of musicianship displayed and the coherence and resourcefulness of the programme presented. In 1610, Claudio Monteverdi published his Vespro della Beata Vergine for soloists, chorus, and orchestra.

Félicien David: Songs for voice and piano

This well-packed disc is a delight and a revelation. Until now, even the most assiduous record collector had access to only a few of the nearly 100 songs published by Félicien David (1810-76), in recordings by such notable artists as Huguette Tourangeau, Ursula Mayer-Reinach, Udo Reinemann, and Joan Sutherland (the last-mentioned singing the duet “Les Hirondelles” with herself!).

Dialogues des Carmélites Revival at Dutch National Opera

If not timeless, Robert Carsen’s production of Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites is highly age-resistant.

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: Le donne curiose

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari was one of the Italian composers of the post-Puccini generation (which included Licinio Refice, Riccardo Zandonai, Umberto Giordano and Franco Leoni) who struggled to prolong the verismo tradition in the early years of the twentieth century.

Moby-Dick Surfaces in the City of Angels

On Saturday evening October 31, 2015, the Nantucket whaling ship Pequod journeyed to Los Angeles Opera and began its sixth voyage in the attempt to kill the elusive whale called Moby-Dick.

Great Scott at the Dallas Opera

Great Scott is a combination of a parody of bel canto opera and an operatic version of All About Eve. Beloved American diva Arden Scott (Joyce DiDonato), has discovered the score to a long-lost opera “Rosa Dolorosa, Figlia di Pompeii” and has become committed to getting the work revived as a vehicle for her. “Rosa Dolorosa” has grand musical moments and a hilariously absurd plot.

Schubert and Debussy at Wigmore Hall

The most recent instalment of the Wigmore Hall’s ambitious series, ‘Schubert: The Complete Songs’, was presented by soprano Lucy Crowe, pianist Malcolm Martineau and harpist Lucy Wakeford.

John Taverner: Missa Corona spinea

This new release of John Taverner’s virtuosic and florid Missa Corona spinea (produced by Gimell Records) comes two years after The Tallis Scholars’ critically esteemed recording of the composer’s Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas, which topped the UK Specialist Classical Album Chart for 6 weeks, and with which the ensemble celebrated their 40th anniversary. The recording also includes Taverner’s two settings of Dum transisset Sabbatum.

A Bright and Accomplished Cenerentola at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola has returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago in a production new to this venue and one notable for several significant debuts along with roles taken by accomplished, familiar performers.

La Bohème, ENO

Back in 2000, Glyndebourne Touring Opera dragged Puccini’s sentimental tale of suffering bohemian artists into the ‘modern urban age’, when director David McVicar ditched the Parisian garrets and nineteenth-century frock coats in favour of a squalid bedsit in which Rodolfo and painter Marcello shared a line of cocaine under the grim glare of naked light bulbs and the clientele at Café Momus included a couple of gaudily attired transvestites.

Luigi Rossi: Orpheus

Just as Orpheus embarks on a quest for his beloved Eurydice, so the Royal Opera House seems to be in pursuit of the mythical music-maker himself: this year the house has presented Monteverdi’s Orfeo at the Camden Roundhouse (with the Early Opera Company in January), Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice on the main stage (September), and, in the Linbury Studio Theatre, both Birtwistle’s The Corridor (June) and the Paris-music-hall style Little Lightbulb Theatre/Battersea Arts Centre co-production, Orpheus (September).

64th Wexford Festival Opera

Wexford Festival Opera has served up another thought-provoking and musically rewarding trio of opera rarities — neglected, forgotten or seldom performed — in 2015.

Christoph Prégardien, Schubert, Wigmore Hall London

Another highlight of the Wigmore Hall complete Schubert Song series - Christoph Prégardien and Christoph Schnackertz. The core Wigmore Hall Lieder audience were out in force. These days, though, there are young people among the regulars : a sign that appreciation of Lieder excellence is most certainly alive and well at the Wigmore Hall. .

The Magic Flute in San Francisco

How did it go? Reactions of my neighbors varied. Some left at the intermission, others remarked that they thought the singing was good.

La Vestale, La Monnaie, Bruxelles

In the first half of the 19th century, Spontini’s La Vestale was a hit. Empress Josephine sponsored its premiere, Parisians heard it hundreds of times, Berlioz raved about it and Wagner conducted it.

THOMAS: Hamlet, Moscow 2015

Hamlet: Opéra in five acts. Music composed by Ambroise Thomas. Libretto by Michel Carré and Jules Barbier after The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare.



03 Jul 2015

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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 »

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. »