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Elsewhere

Will Don Quichotte Be the Last Production at San Diego Opera?

This quotation from Cervantes was displayed before the opening of the opera’s final scene:

“The greatest madness a man can commit in this life is to let himself die, just like that, without anybody killing him or any other hands ending his life except those of melancholy.”

Gound Faust - Calleja and Terfel, Royal Opera House London

Gounod's Faust makes a much welcomed return to the Royal Opera House. With each new cast, the dynamic changes as the balance between singers shifts and brings out new insights. In that sense, every revival is an opportunity to revisit from new perspectives. This time Bryn Terfel sang Méphistophélès, with Joseph Calleja as Faust - stars whose allure certainly helped fill the hall to capacity. And the audience enjoyed a very good show.

Syracuse Opera’s Porgy and Bess
Got Plenty O’ Plenty

The company ends its 2013-14 season on a high note with a staged performance of Gershwin’s theatrical masterpiece

A New Rusalka in Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new production of Antonin Dvorak’s Rusalka is visually impressive and fulfills all possible expectations musically with unquestioned excitement.

Karlsruhe’s Mixed Blessing Ballo

The reliable Badisches Staatstheater has assembled plenty of talent for its new Un Ballo in Maschera.

Louise Alder, Wigmore Hall

This varied, demanding programme indisputably marked soprano Louise Alder as a name to watch.

Luke Bedford: Through His Teeth, Linbury, Royal Opera House

Can this be the best British opera in years? Luke Bedford’s Through His Teeth at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre is exceptional. Drop everything and go.

Powder Her Face, ENO

As one descends the steel steps into the cavernous bunker of Ambika P3, one seems about to enter rather insalubrious realms — just right one might imagine, then, for an opera which delves into the depths of the seedier side of celebrity life.

Iphigénie Fascinates in the Pfalz

Kaiserslautern’s Pfalztheater has produced a tantalizing realization of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide, characterized by intriguing staging, appealing designs, and best of all, superlative musical standards.

ROH presents Cavalli’s L’Ormindo at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, London

Never thought I’d say it but......

Harrison Birtwistle, Elliott Carter, Wigmore Hall, London

Celebrating the 80th birthday of one of the UK's greatest composers (if not the greatest), this concert was an intriguing, and not always stimulating, mix. Birtwistle with Carter makes sense, but Birtwistle with Adams does not - or at least only within the remit of the concert series. The concert was actually entitled “Nash Inventions: American and British Masterworks, including an 80th Birthday Tribute to Sir Harrison Birtwistle” and was the final concert in the “Inventions” series.

Requiem for a Lost Opera Company

On Wednesday, March 19, 2014, General Director Ian Campbell of San Diego Opera announced that the company would go out of business at the end of this season. The next day the company performed their long-planned Verdi Requiem with a stellar cast including soprano Krassimira Stoyanova, mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, tenor Piotr Beczala, and bass Ferruccio Furlanetto.

The Met’s Werther a tasty mix of singing, staging, acting and orchestral splendor

Visual elements in Richard Eyre’s striking production offset Massenet’s melodic shortcomings

Chicago’s New Barber of Seville

New productions of repertoire staples such as Gioachino Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia bear much anticipation for both performers and staging.

Lucia in LA: A Performance to Remember

On March 15, 2014, Los Angeles Opera presented Elkhanah Pulitzer’s production of the opera, which she set in 1885 when women were beginning to be recognized as persons separate from their fathers, brothers and husbands. At that time many European countries were beginning to allow women to own property, obtain higher education, and choose their husbands.

San Diego Opera Presents an All Star Ballo in Maschera

On March 11, 2014, San Diego Opera presented Verdi’s A Masked Ball in a traditional production by Leslie Koenig. Metropolitan Opera star tenor Piotr Beczala was Gustav III, the king of Sweden, and Krassimira Stoyanova gave an insightful portrayal of Amelia, his troubled but innocent love interest.

Anne Schwanewilms, Wigmore Hall

From the moment she walked, resplendent in red, onto the Wigmore Hall platform, Anne Schwanewilms radiated a captivating presence — one that kept the audience enthralled throughout this magnificent programme of Romantic song.

Die Frau ohne Schatten, Royal Opera

Magnificent! Following the first night of this new production of Die Frau ohne Schatten, I quipped that I could forgive an opera house anything for musical performance at this level, whether orchestral, vocal, or, in this case, both.

Jean-Paul Scarpitta in Montpellier

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.

Interview: Tenor Saimir Pirgu — From Albania to Italy to LA

Maria Nockin interviews tenor Saimir Pirgu.


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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. »

17 Feb 2005

Edinburgh International Festival Confronts Cash Crunch

This year’s Edinburgh International Festival was facing a cash crisis last night after the postponement of a £600,000 emergency funding package. Last week, it emerged that Brian McMaster, director and chief executive of the EIF, had requested the money from Edinburgh City Council and EventScotland because the festival’s funding was “meeting the buffers”. »

17 Feb 2005

Classical Music — It's No Longer A Man's World

Since the time of Claudio Monteverdi, the Italian composer who lived from 1567 to 1643, classical music has been a man’s world. With some exceptions — such as 19th Century pianist-composer Clara Schumann — women achieved lim-ited prominence in the centuries-old art form. That is changing, and although they are still in the minority, women are appearing more frequently at the highest levels of classical music. »

15 Feb 2005

Importing Western Productions to the Bolshoi

Operatic and ballet productions imported from the West are becoming increasingly prominent on the repertory of the Bolshoi, Russia’s largest music theater. Local audiences met such imports with circumspection, but are now growing to like them. »

12 Feb 2005

Public Radio's Flagship Runs Aground

WETA-FM listeners who had hoped to prevent the widely anticipated decision by the public broadcasting station’s board of directors to drop classical music programs left its Shirlington offices disappointed last night. By an overwhelming majority, the board approved a resolution to focus on news and public-affairs programming. »

12 Feb 2005

Welsh National Opera Moves to Millennium Centre

This is Welsh National Opera’s big chance. Fifty-nine years after its birth, as the brilliant artistic reputation that it enjoyed in the 1980s falters along with attendances, the company has moved into a new home in the Wales Millennium Centre, a vast cultural emporium at the heart of the redeveloped Cardiff Bay. »

11 Feb 2005

Early Opera in Seattle

The Early Music Guild, an indispensable part of Seattle’s period-music scene for more than two decades, every once in a while steps back from presenting the best and the brightest musicians from around the world and produces extravaganzas of its own. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, in 1997, the guild presented a stellar reading of Handel’s “Carmelite Vespers” at St. James Cathedral, with Andrew Parrott leading the large forces. More recently was a weekend of Monteverdi chamber operas. »

11 Feb 2005

A New Opera Company Formed in Upstate New York

Three local opera groups announced Friday that they have merged to form a major new company, called Mercury Opera Rochester, which will launch its inaugural season in the fall of 2005. For its first season, the company plans to stage three original (and yet to be specified) productions — two smaller, community-style operas in the fall of 2005 and spring of 2006 at venues to be determined later, and a grand operatic performance at the Eastman Theatre in January 2006 that would feature, among other things, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra serving as pit orchestra. »

11 Feb 2005

Cleveland Opera's New Season

Singers both new and familiar to Cleveland will perform with Cleveland Opera during its 30th anniversary season starting in the fall. The season is the first programmed entirely by general director Robert Chumbley. »

10 Feb 2005

Ticket Prices Going Up At Wiener Staatsoper

Unter vielen Abonnenten der Wiener Staatsoper herrscht Aufregung. Der Grund: Ein Schreiben des kaufmännischen Geschäftsführers Thomas Platzer, in dem teilweise empfindliche Preiserhöhungen angekündigt werden. »

10 Feb 2005

Dresden Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Reopening of the Semperoper

Als am 13. Februar 1985 zur Wiedereröffnung der Semperoper die DDR-Nationalhymne erklang, mag die Zeile „Auferstanden aus Ruinen“ zumindest in den Gedanken vieler Zuschauer mitgeschwungen haben. Offiziell wurde der Text damals nicht mehr verwendet. »

10 Feb 2005

Revamping Opera Australia

A PROGRESS report on the state of the Victorian Government’s opera review made one thing clear this week: any new company will look nothing like the one that died in 1996. Victorian Arts Minister Mary Delahunty called interested parties to a meeting on Tuesday to brief them on the findings of a review of opera activities in the state, undertaken by strategic consulting firm LEK Consulting. »

10 Feb 2005

Turnover at Chicago

The Lyric Opera has effectively installed a turnstile backstage at the Civic Opera House to facilitate the comings and goings of the singers taking the principal roles of Floria Tosca and Mario Cavaradossi in its revival of the historic Franco Zeffirelli production. »

09 Feb 2005

Das Opernglas Interviews Anja Harteros

Als deutsche Sängerin im italienischen Fach Fuß fassen – Anja Harteros gelingt, was heute eher eine Seltenheit ist. Söhnke Martens sprach mit ihr in Hamburg. Ausschnitte aus dem Interview: Sind Sie musikalisch durch Ihre Familie geprägt? Nein, überhaupt nicht. In meiner Familie gibt es niemanden, der professionell Musik gemacht hat. Jedes Kind sollte das Hobby ausüben, das ihm Freude bereitete. Zuweilen tagte dann der Familienrat, und wir diskutierten eifrig über unsere Wünsche. Meine Mutter schlug mir das Geigenspiel vor, als ich 8 Jahre alt war. Ich war davon nicht besonders überzeugt. Erst ihre Bemerkung, dass dieses Instrument nicht jeder spielen könne, machte mich neugierig. Es hat mir auch wirklich Spaß gemacht. »

09 Feb 2005

This Summer at the Aspen Music Festival

The Aspen Music Festival and School will delve into the music of autobiography in its 2005 summer season. The season, under the theme of “Self-Portraits,” will highlight composers who have told the stories of their lives in their music. Among the notable works falling under the theme are Haydn’s “Farewell” Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 and a semistaged performance of Strauss’ comic opera “Intermezzo.” Also to be presented are intensely personal works by Elgar, Mahler, Berg and Shostakovich. »

09 Feb 2005

As If You Were There

When the newly refurbished Royal Opera House reopened in December 1999, the great and the good found themselves trapped in their seats for a great slab of unstaged Wagner in German, with no introduction and no escape. Tony Blair, who was seated just in front of me, was clearly finding it hard-going; but to get out, he would have had to clamber over most of the royal family who, given the chance, might have beaten him to the exit. The Wagner, all agreed, was an unfortunate choice. »