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Elsewhere

Il turco in Italia at the Aix Festival

Twenty years ago stage director Christopher Alden introduced Rossini’s then forgotten comedy to Southern California audiences in a production that is still remembered. In Aix Alden has revisited this complex work that many critics now consider Rossini’s greatest comedy.

First Night of the BBC Proms : Elgar The Kingdom

The BBC Proms 2014 season began with Sir Edward Elgars The Kingdom (1903-6). It was a good start to the season,which commemorates the start of the First World War. From that perspective Sir Andrew Davis's The Kingdom moved me deeply.

Le nozze di Figaro, Munich

One is unlikely to come across a cast of Figaro principals much better than this today, and the virtues of this performance indeed proved to be primarily vocal.

Winterreise and Trauernacht at the Aix Festival

That’s A Winter’s Journey and A Night of Mourning for metteurs-en-scène William Kentridge (South Africa) and Katie Mitchell (Great Britain), completing the clean sweep of English language stage directors for the Aix Festival productions this year.

James Gilchrist at Wigmore Hall

Assured elegance, care and thoughtfulness characterised tenor James Gilchrist’s performance of Schubert’s Schwanengesang at the Wigmore Hall, the cycles’ two poets framing a compelling interpretation of Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte.

Music for a While: Improvisations on Henry Purcell

‘Music for a while shall all your cares beguile.’ Dryden’s words have never seemed as apt as at the conclusion of this wonderful sequence of improvisations on Purcell’s songs and arias, interspersed with instrumental chaconnes and toccatas, by L’Arpeggiata.

Nabucco at Orange

The acoustic of the gigantic Théâtre Antique Romain at Orange cannot but astonish its nine thousand spectators, the nearly one hundred meter breadth of the its proscenium inspires awe. There was excited anticipation for this performance of Verdi’s first masterpiece.

Richard Strauss: Notturno

Richard Strauss may be most closely associated with the soprano voice but this recording of a selection of the composer’s lieder by baritone Thomas Hampson is a welcome reminder that the rapt lyricism of Strauss’s settings can be rendered with equal beauty and character by the low male voice.

Saint Louis: A Hit is a Hit is a Hit

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has once again staked claim to being the summer festival “of choice” in the US, not least of all for having mounted another superlative world premiere.

La Flûte Enchantée (2e Acte)
at the Aix Festival

In past years the operas of the Aix Festival that took place in the Grand Théâtre de Provence began at 8 pm. The Magic Flute began at 7 pm, or would have had not the infamous intermittents (seasonal theatrical employees) demanded to speak to the audience.

Ariodante at the Aix Festival

High drama in Aix. Three scenarios in conflict — those of G.F. Handel, Richard Jones and the intermittents (disgruntled seasonal theatrical employees). Make that four — mother nature.

Lucy Crowe, Wigmore Hall

The programme declared that ‘music, water and night’ was the connecting thread running through this diverse collection of songs, performed by soprano Lucy Crowe and pianist Anna Tilbrook, but in fact there was little need to seek a unifying element for these eclectic works allowed Crowe to demonstrate her expressive range — and offered the audience the opportunity to hear some interesting rarities.

The Turn of the Screw, Holland Park

‘Only make the reader’s general vision of evil intense enough … and his own experience, his own imagination, his own sympathy … will supply him quite sufficiently with all the particulars.

Plenty of Va-Va-Vroom: La Fille du Regiment, Iford

It is not often that concept, mood, music and place coincide perfectly. On the first night of Opera della Luna’s La Fille du Regiment at Iford Opera in Wiltshire, England we arrived with doubts (rather large doubts it should be admitted)as to whether Donizetti’s “naive and vulgar” romp of militarism and proto-feminism, peopled with hordes of gun-toting soldiers and praying peasants, could hardly be contained, surely, inside Iford’s tiny cloister?

La finta giardiniera, Glyndebourne

‘Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,/ Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend/ More than cool reason ever comprehends.’

Sophie Karthäuser, Wigmore Hall

Belgian soprano Sophie Karthäuser has a rich range of vocal resources upon which to draw: she has power and also precision; her top is bright and glinting and it is complemented by a surprisingly full and rich lower register; she can charm with a flowing lyrical line, but is also willing to take musical risks to convey emotion and embody character.

Ariadne auf Naxos, Royal Opera

‘When two men like us set out to produce a “trifle”, it has to become a very serious trifle’, wrote Hofmannsthal to Strauss during the gestation of their opera about opera.

Leoš Janáček : The Cunning Little Vixen, Garsington Opera at Wormsley

Janáček started The Cunning Little Vixen on the cusp of old age in 1922 and there is something deeply elegiac about it.

La Traviata in Marseille

It took only a couple of years for Il trovatore and Rigoletto to make it from Italy to the Opéra de Marseille, but it took La traviata (Venice, 1853) sixteen years (Marseille, 1869).

Madama Butterfly in San Francisco

Gesamtkunstwerk, synthesis of fable, sound, shape and color in art, may have been made famous by Richard Wagner, and perhaps never more perfectly realized than just now by San Francisco Opera.


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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. »

07 Feb 2005

SF Chronicle Interviews David Gockley

The San Francisco Opera has appointed David Gockley, longtime artistic director of the Houston Grand Opera, to succeed Pamela Rosenberg. After 32 years in Houston, Gockley will succeed Rosenberg in January. On Sunday, he sat down for an exclusive interview with San Francisco Chronicle Music Critic Joshua Kosman. »

05 Feb 2005

Phoenix Rising — The Reconstruction of the Wiener Staatsoper

Hier spielt das Burgtheater”, tönte Raoul Aslan angesichts des unzer störten Etablissements Ronacher im April 1945. Die Delegation, angeführt vom damaligen Direktionsassistenten (und heutigen Josefstadt-Gesellschafter) Heinrich Kraus und Aslan als sprachgewaltigem Theaterdirektor, war nach dem verheerenden Bombenangriff vom 12. März 1945, bei dem nicht nur das Burgtheater, sondern auch die Staatsoper zerstört wurden, auf der Suche nach möglichen Spielstätten. Tatsächlich hob sich Ende April ‘45, als der Krieg noch gar nicht zu Ende war, mit Grillparzers “Sappho” erstmals im Ronacher der Vorhang. Für das Staatsopernensemble begann die Nachkriegszeit im Theater an der Wien. Die Stammhäuser konnten erst 1955 renoviert wieder ihrer Bestimmung übergeben werden. Kurz nach Abschluss des Staatsvertrags zelebrierte man sinnigerweise die Wieder-Eröffnung der Burg wieder mit Grillparzer: Die Wahl musste auf “König Ottokars Glück und Ende” fallen – mit dem legendären, umjubelten “Loblied auf Österreich”. »

02 Feb 2005

Seattle Opera Announces 2005/06 Season

[February 1, 2005] Seattle—Seattle Opera’s general director, Speight Jenkins, officially announced the company’s 2005/06 season today. The season opens October 15, 2005, with American composer Jake Heggie’s most recent — and newly revised — opera, The End of the Affair. In January, Seattle Opera presents Johann Strauss, Jr.’s ever-popular operetta, Die Fledermaus, featuring a trio of Wagnerians — soprano Jane Eaglen, tenor Alan Woodrow, and Richard Berkeley-Steele — in a comic turn. Jonathan Miller’s production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte follows in February and March 2006. In May, the season concludes with a new production of Verdi’s Macbeth, bringing together for the first time director Bernard Uzan and designer Robert Israel. »

01 Feb 2005

Markus Hinterhäuser — Salzburg Festival's Newly Designated Musik-Chef

Da würde ich lügen”, sagt er, “wenn ich jetzt die Grundlinien eines großen Konzepts zu skizzieren versuchte, das ich für die Salzburger Festspiele habe” – Markus Hinterhäuser gibt sich im “Presse”-Gespräch pragmatisch: Was er über Musik und über die Möglichkeit denkt, ein spannendes Programm zu entwickeln, hat er schließlich früher bereits gezeigt. Die Meldung kam ja nicht überraschend: Hinterhäuser, Mitinitiator des “Zeitfluss”-Festivals, das am Rande der Salzburger Festspiele seit den frühen neunziger Jahren für Beschäftigung mit der Avantgarde gesorgt hat, wird an der Seite des designierten Festspielintendanten Jürgen Flimm das Musikprogramm in Salzburg betreuen. »

01 Feb 2005

Aida at Copenhagen's New Opera House

Seen at night, the warmly lit interior of Copenhagen’s new opera house glows invitingly across the water. The building is situated in a uniquely privileged position, opposite the Amalienborg Palace, lining up on an axis with the proudly domed Frederikskirken — so close to the city’s heart that arias could easily waft over the water on an evening breeze. »

31 Jan 2005

Teatr Wielki Announces Festiwal Hoffmannowski Schedule

Festiwal Hoffmannowski -- Polsko-Niemiecki Festiwal Operowy Teatr Wielki in Poznan, Poland, has announced the schedule for the Festiwal Hoffmannowski: Saturday, 2 April, 19.00 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Cosi fan tutte, Premiere!!! Teatr Wielki, Poznan Sunday, 3 April, 19.00 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,... »

28 Jan 2005

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28 Jan 2005

Passing the Baton to Levine

Boston Symphony Orchestra music director James Levine will be in residence at Tanglewood this summer for almost a month of rehearsals and performances. He will lead five concerts and conduct one work at Tanglewood on Parade. This will mark Levine’s first performance at Tanglewood since 1972, when he conducted a single concert. The other big news is that for the first time, all nighttime concerts in the Koussevitzky Music Shed will be projected on large video screens to the audience on the lawn. For several years the screens have been popular additions to a handful of concerts. »

28 Jan 2005

I'll Take Houston

Patrick Summers, music director at the Houston Grand Opera, has settled into Houston on his own, slightly unconventional terms. He’s building a house a few minutes west of downtown and has acquired a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Julius. He’s smitten with the city’s contemporary art scene: “There’s a lot of really interesting painting going on in this city.” »

27 Jan 2005

MIDEM Classical Awards Announced

German music major Deutsche Grammophon (DG) picked up three prizes at the inaugural MIDEM Classical Awards in Cannes, January 24. Top prizes also went to Belgian counter-tenor and conductor René Jacobs and Welsh pianist Llyr Williams. The awards were presented for the first time at MIDEM, the World’s Music Market (Cannes, France, January 23-27, 2005). »

26 Jan 2005

Beverly Sills Resigns From Met Post

William C. Morris, president and chief executive officer of The Metropolitan Opera, announced today that Beverly Sills has resigned from her volunteer post as chairman of The Metropolitan Opera for family and personal reasons effective immediately. »

25 Jan 2005

Merkur Interviews Katharina Wagner

Papa konnte doch nichts Besseres passieren: Katharina Wagner, Tochter des Bayreuther Festspielchefs Wolfgang Wagner und damit heftig für seine Nachfolge gehandelt, hat mit bislang zwei Opernprojekten ihre Klasse gezeigt. 2002 debütierte die heute 27-Jährige als Regisseurin mit Richard Wagners “Fliegendem Holländer” in Würzburg, 2004 folgte in Budapest der “Lohengrin”. Nach zwei Werken ihres Urgroßvaters inszeniert sie, die Theaterwissenschaft studierte und unter anderem bei ihrem Vater und bei Harry Kupfer assistierte, fürs Gärtnerplatztheater Lortzings “Waffenschmied”, Premiere ist am 20. Februar. »

24 Jan 2005

Is Opera Relevant in Scotland?

WHILE Scotland’s national opera company is in meltdown, how ironic is it that the opera school of our national music conservatoire is flying high? The two institutions may only be sited yards across the road from one another in Glasgow’s Cowcaddens district, but the fortunes of Scottish Opera and the Alexander Gibson Opera School at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) could hardly be more diametrically opposed. »

22 Jan 2005

Salzburg To Celebrate Wolfie's 250th

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA – Austria’s venerable Salzburg Festival will stage all 22 of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s operas and musical theatre works next year, the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Simply staging the composer’s seven most-performed operas – including Le Nozze de Figaro and Idomeneo — “would have been too little for Salzburg,” festival director Peter Ruzicka told reporters Thursday. »

21 Jan 2005

Muti in Milano

Here, indicates the maestro, is the “punto Callas”. Riccardo Muti and I are standing onstage at La Scala, Milan, where so many great operas have been premiered and countless distinguished singers have sung. Facing the deserted auditorium, he points to an unmarked spot on the floor, right of centre, which Maria Callas established as her sovereign territory. It is the punto, or position, which best showed off a singer’s voice in a theatre renowned for its acoustical quirks. “There was great competition for this point,” smiles Muti. “In a quartet you would have a tower of singers.” Breaking the eerie stillness, the maestro claps his hands to show how much more flattering the acoustic has become since the great Milanese theatre reopened last month after a three-year renovation. Has La Scala ever resonated so crisply to the sound of one person’s applause? Muti’s point is that there is no longer any need for a “punto Callas”. »

20 Jan 2005

Peace is at hand in San Diego

A San Diego Opera-San Diego Symphony agreement reached this week to share musicians signifies a new level of achievement for two arts organizations that have fought second-tier status for years. It also ushers in unprecedented cooperation for these major arts organizations, which didn’t always work cooperatively or compatibly. »

20 Jan 2005

Seeking Greatness at Lincoln Center

NEW YORK—The British are coming. So are the Russians, along with an Argentinean and the usual Austrians and Germans. Lincoln Center’s 2005-06 “Great Performers” lineup was announced Tuesday, and the 40th season of the multimedia series once again draws a multicultural mix of classical performers. The opening events of “Great Performers,” Sept. 28-Oct. 2, bring the return of the virtuoso London Symphony Orchestra under Sir Colin Davis in programs ranging from the Verdi Requiem to Sibelius and Vaughan Williams. That kicks off a season featuring visits from 10 international orchestras, plus 31 recitals and chamber concerts. »