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Elsewhere

Desert Island Delights at the RCM: Offenbach's Robinson Crusoe

Britannia waives the rules: The EU Brexit in quotes’. Such was the headline of a BBC News feature on 28th June 2016. And, nearly three years later, those who watch the runaway Brexit-train hurtle ever nearer to the edge of Dover’s white cliffs might be tempted by the thought of leaving this sceptred (sceptic?) isle, for a life overseas.

Akira Nishimura’s Asters: A Major New Japanese Opera

Opened as recently as 1997, the Opera House of the New National Theatre Tokyo (NNTT) is one of the newest such venues among the world’s great capitals, but, with ten productions of opera a year, ranging from baroque to contemporary, this publicly-owned and run theatre seems determined to make an international impact.

The Outcast in Hamburg

It is a “a musicstallation-theater with video” that had its world premiere at the Mannheim Opera in 2012, revived just now in a new version by Vienna’s ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wein for one performance at the Vienna Konzerthaus and one performance in Hamburg’s magnificent Elbphilharmonie (above). Olga Neuwirth’s The Outcast and this rich city are imperfect bedfellows!

Leonard Bernstein: Tristan und Isolde in Munich on Blu-ray

Although Birgit Nilsson, one of the great Isolde’s, wrote with evident fondness – and some wit – of Leonard Bernstein in her autobiography – “unfortunately, he burned the candles at both ends” – their paths rarely crossed musically. There’s a live Fidelio from March 1970, done in Italy, but almost nothing else is preserved on disc.

Monarchs corrupted and tormented: ETO’s Idomeneo and Macbeth at the Hackney Empire

Promises made to placate a foe in the face of imminent crisis are not always the most well-considered and have a way of coming back to bite one - as our current Prime Minister is finding to her cost.

Der Fliegende Holländer and
Tannhäuser in Dresden

To remind you that Wagner’s Dutchman had its premiere in Dresden’s Altes Hoftheater in 1843 and his Tannhauser premiered in this same theater in 1845 (not to forget that Rienzi premiered in this Saxon court theater in 1842).

WNO's The Magic Flute at the Birmingham Hippodrome

A perfect blue sky dotted with perfect white clouds. Identikit men in bowler hats clutching orange umbrellas. Floating cyclists. Ferocious crustaceans.

Puccini’s Messa di Gloria: Antonio Pappano and the London Symphony Orchestra

This was an oddly fascinating concert - though, I’m afraid, for quite the wrong reasons (though this depends on your point of view). As a vehicle for the sound, and playing, of the London Symphony Orchestra it was a notable triumph - they were not so much luxurious - rather a hedonistic and decadent delight; but as a study into three composers, who wrote so convincingly for opera, and taken somewhat out of their comfort zone, it was not a resounding success.

WNO's Un ballo in maschera at Birmingham's Hippodrome

David Pountney and his design team - Raimund Bauer (sets), Marie-Jeanne Lecca (costumes), Fabrice Kebour (lighting) - have clearly ‘had a ball’ in mounting this Un ballo in maschera, the second part of WNO’s Verdi trilogy and which forms part of a spring season focusing on what Pountney describes as the “profound and mysterious issue of Monarchy”.

Super #Superflute in North Hollywood

Pacific Opera Project’s rollicking new take on The Magic Flute is as much endearing fun as a box full of puppies.

Leading Ladies: Barbara Strozzi and Amiche

I couldn’t help wondering; would a chamber concert of vocal music by female composers of the 17th century be able sustain our concentration for 90 minutes? Wouldn’t most of us be feeling more dutiful than exhilarated by the end?

George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill at Wigmore Hall

This week, the Wigmore Hall presents two concerts from George Benjamin and Frankfurt’s Ensemble Modern, the first ‘at home’ on Wigmore Street, the second moving north to Camden’s Roundhouse. For the first, we heard Benjamin’s now classic first opera, Into the Little Hill, prefaced by three ensemble works by Cathy Milliken, Christian Mason, and, for the evening’s spot of ‘early music’, Luigi Dallapiccola.

Marianne Crebassa sings Berio and Ravel: Philharmonia Orchestra with Salonen

It was once said of Cathy Berberian, the muse for whom Luciano Berio wrote his Folk Songs, that her voice had such range she could sing the roles of both Tristan and Isolde. Much less flatteringly, was my music teacher’s description of her sound as akin to a “chisel being scraped over sandpaper”.

Rossini's Elizabeth I: English Touring Opera start their 2019 spring tour

What was it with Italian bel canto and the Elizabethan age? The era’s beautiful, doomed queens and swash-buckling courtiers seem to have held a strange fascination for nineteenth-century Italians.

Chameleonic new opera featuring Caruso in Amsterdam

Micha Hamel’s new opera, Caruso a Cuba, is constantly on the move. The chameleonic score takes on a myriad flavours, all with a strong sense of mood or place.

Ernst Krenek: Karl V, Bayerisches Staatsoper

Ernst Krenek’s Karl V op 73 at the Bayerisches Staatsoper, with Bo Skovhus, conducted by Erik Nielsen, in a performance that reveals the genius of Krenek’s masterpiece. Contemporary with Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten, Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron, Berg’s Lulu, and Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler, Krenek’s Karl V is a metaphysical drama, exploring psychological territory with the possibilities opened by new musical form.

A Sparkling Merry Widow at ENO

A small, formerly great, kingdom, is on the verge of bankruptcy and desperate to prevent its ‘assets’ from slipping into foreign hands. Sexual and political intrigues are bluntly exposed. The princes and patriarchs are under threat from both the ‘paupers’ and the ‘princesses’, and the two dangers merge in the glamorous figure of the irresistibly wealthy Pontevedrin beauty, Hanna Glawari, a working-class girl who’s married up and made good.

Mozart: Così fan tutte - Royal Opera House

Così fan tutte is, primarily, an ensemble opera and it sinks or swims on the strength of its sextet of singers - and this performance very much swam. In a sense, this is just as well because Jan Phillip Gloger’s staging (revived here by Julia Burbach) is in turns messy, chaotic and often confusing. The tragedy of this Così is that it’s high art clashing with Broadway; a theatre within an opera and a deceit wrapped in a conundrum.

Gavin Higgins' The Monstrous Child: an ROH world premiere

The Royal Opera House’s choice of work for the first new production in the splendidly redesigned Linbury Theatre - not unreasonably, it seems to have lost ‘Studio’ from its name - is, perhaps, a declaration of intent; it may certainly be received as such. Not only is it a new work; it is billed specifically as ‘our first opera for teenage audiences’.

Elektra at Lyric Opera of Chicago

From the first moments of the recent revival of Sir David McVicar’s production of Elektra by Richard Strauss at Lyric Opera of Chicago the audience is caught in the grip of a rich music-drama, the intensity of which is not resolved, appropriately, until the final, symmetrical chords.


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Commentary

26 Feb 2019

Handel Singing Competition semi-finalists announced

The Handel Singing Competition has announced its 13 semi-finalists who will be competing in the 2019 Competition. The semi-final is due to take place on 5 March at Grosvenor Chapel, and the final is on 6 April at St George’s, Hanover Square - both in front of a live audience. The Competition this year received over 170 applications from all around the world, from 25 countries as far afield as Argentina, Australia, Israel, the United States and Canada. »

Recently in Commentary

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24 Jan 2005

Le Figaro Interviews Marc Minkovski

A 20 ans, Marc Minkovski fondait les Musiciens du Louvre et, très vite, imprimait sa sensibilité gourmande sur le répertoire baroque, puis sur des Offenbach qui ont fait mouche à Lyon, Grenoble et Paris. On se souvient d’un grand Couronnement de Poppée à Aix-en-Provence, d’un admirable Pelléas et Mélisande, salle Favart, pour le centenaire de l’oeuvre en 2002. A l’Opéra de Paris, Gérard Mortier en fait aujourd’hui un pilier de ce qui ne ressemble pas à de la sagesse : le voici aux commandes musicales d’une nouvelle Flûte enchantée venue du Festival de la Ruhr, et donnée en pâture au délirant groupe catalan La Fura del Baus. Le chef, lui, s’occupe surtout de Mozart. »

21 Jan 2005

John Eliot Gardiner Goes It Alone — Take Two

What is it that urges an eminent musician to spurn the mainstream record industry and set up on his own? Some orchestras have been doing it for quite a while, bypassing the major companies and releasing competitively priced discs of live performances that regularly lead the market and at the same time help to promote the orchestras’ image. Where the London Symphony Orchestra led the way in that field, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, who already has a formidable backlist of recordings to his credit, is now blazing a trail for the individual artist by launching his own label, Soli Deo Gloria, the first two albums of which have just gone on sale. »

21 Jan 2005

So Much For Einstein's Theory

For many years Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s operatic work Zaide was regarded as a fragment. More than an hour of music was preserved but that was only the arias. Originally they were linked by spoken text, none of which survived. The German musicologist and conductor Andreas Kroeper, who now lives in the Czech Republic, says he has found the missing text and has proved it belonged to Zaide. Mozart started to compose the two-act Singspiel, set in a Turkish harem — a popular setting at that time, some time around 1780 in Salzburg. The libretto, developing similar plots of the period, was written by the Salzburg court musician Johann Andreas Schachtner. But Mozart soon realised a serious piece like that would not go down well with the Viennese audience whose tastes had turned to comic operas. »

18 Jan 2005

More Than 2,000 Say Goodbye to Victoria de los Ángeles

The coffin of Spanish Victoria de los Angeles, a distinctive soprano who sang most of the great lyric roles in most of the world’s opera houses, is placed inside the cathedral Nostra Senora del Mar during her funeral in Barcelona, January 17, 2005. Victoria de los Angeles died in hospital on Saturday at the age of 81. »

18 Jan 2005

Fidelio at the Lyric Opera of Chicago

Among history’s crowded pantheon of tormented genius-artists, Beethoven holds an honored spot. Often he composed quickly and with little apparent struggle. But he was no Mozart, who typically composed with a facility and speed that some music scholars have described as “taking dictation from God.” Beethoven filled sketchbooks with musical fragments, doggedly reworking and refining them like a miner scratching for diamonds in a black-walled shaft. With his wild hair, scowling gaze, deafness—a particularly cruel infirmity for a musician—and volcanic temper, he is the very model of a modern angst-ridden artist. »

18 Jan 2005

Mozart's Mass in C Minor Completed

Mozart left comparatively few major (or potentially major) works unfinished, and while it may seem daunting – presumptious even – for another musician to complete these scores, the lure of making an incomplete work whole is clearly too great to resist. Can the results ever be more than hyphenated Mozart? Probably not. A musicologist steeped in Mozart’s musical moves may project what the composer might have done at any point in a work, based on what he did in similar scores, and the completion may sound thoroughly Mozartean. But Mozart often came up with solutions that are completely surprising. Part of what made him Mozart – in fact, part of what makes any great composer great – is unpredictability. »

17 Jan 2005

Le Monde on Victoria de Los Angeles

Elle s’en est allée rejoindre les anges, dont elle portait si bien le nom. Victoria de Los Angeles s’est éteinte samedi 15 janvier, à l’âge de 81 ans, à la clinique Teknon de Barcelone, où elle avait été hospitalisée, à la suite de troubles cardio-pulmonaires, le 31 décembre 2004. Née le 1er novembre 1923 dans la capitale catalane, Victoria Gómez Cima (ou Garcia Lopez), dite Victoria de Los Angeles, avait grandi dans une Espagne meurtrie par les guerres. La fille du concierge de l’université, qui travaillait sa voix dans les salles de cours vides, avait conquis le monde de l’opéra dès 1947 en remportant le grand Concours international de Genève, qui lui valut de débuter l’année suivante à la BBC dans le rôle de Salud de La Vie brève de De Falla. »

15 Jan 2005

Victoria de los Ángeles Has Died

Barcelona.—La decana de los cantantes líricos españoles, Victoria dels Ángeles, ha fallecido hoy a los 81 años en la Clínica Teknon de Barcelona, donde se encontraba ingresada desde el 30 de diciembre como consecuencia de una afección respiratoria. La familia de la soprano ha comunicado que la capilla ardiente se instalará mañana en el Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya, entre las 12.00 y las 19.00 horas. El funeral de la cantante, nacida en Barcelona el 1 de noviembre de 1923, tendrá lugar en la Basílica de Santa María del Mar, el lunes a las 11.00 horas. »

14 Jan 2005

Mozart's Portrait — Doubts Emerge

Nur wer mit den Eigentümlichkeiten Wiens und seiner Bewohner, ihren Empfindlichkeiten und Ab grenzungen, vor allem im Umgang mit den einverleibten Idolen, einigermaßen vertraut ist, kann ermessen, welch empfindlichen Nerv die Nachricht treffen musste, die am Dreikönigstag aus Berlin, ausgerechnet Berlin, verbreitet wurde, dass in der Berliner Gemäldegalerie ein bisher unbekanntes Mozart-Porträt aufgetaucht sei. Zwar wurde zugleich eine elektronische Kopie dieses Bildnisses mitgeliefert, auch der Name des Malers, Johann Georg Edlinger, genannt und mitgeteilt, es sei 1790 bei Mozarts letztem Aufenthalt in München entstanden, alles Nähere jedoch soll erst bei einem Vortrag am 27. Januar 2005 durch den Oberkustos der Berliner Gemäldegalerie, Rainer Michaelis, bekannt gegeben werden. Also just an Mozarts 249. Geburtstag. »

11 Jan 2005

Going It Alone

The conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner — for 20 years one of the most famous names contracted to the recording company Deutsche Grammophon — has launched his own CD label, after recovering from the blow of the abrupt severance of his contract with DG. Sir John faced a crisis when the company pulled the plug just as he was planning the gargantuan project of touring with and recording live the complete Bach cantatas throughout the year 2000, which would have resulted in over 50 CDs. »

07 Jan 2005

A Lost Portrait of Mozart Recovered?

Musikgenie zwischen Verschwendungssucht und verhärmter Armut — doch aus Mozart-Porträts spricht auch Lebensfreude, Lust am Genuß und tödliche Krankheit. Höchste Zeit, über Amadeus-Legenden nachzudenken. War Mozart dicklich und wohlgenährt? Ein neu aufgetauchtes Bildnis zeigt den Salzburger Meister in seiner späten Zeit, im Jahre 1790. Mozart war 34 Jahre alt und hatte noch gut ein Jahr zu leben. Die Sensation: Pausbäckig und jovial, den Jackenknopf mühsam über dem Bäuchlein geschlossen, bietet Mozart einen Anblick gesunder Lebensfreude und jovialer Genußfähigkeit. »

29 Dec 2004

Salieri Redux

For Mozart's Archrival, an Italian Renaissance By JASON HOROWITZ MILAN - For more than 200 years, Antonio Salieri's obscure opera "Europa Riconosciuta" ("Europa Revealed") was forgotten. Before its return to La Scala this month, the opera had not been performed... »

29 Dec 2004

Marketing Classical Music

Folks tirelessly trying to market classical music these days will settle on almost any hook to lure customers, from martini bars in lobbies and cutesy program titles to that reliable, when-all-else-fails measure, the deeply discounted ticket price. I’m just old-fashioned enough to prefer come-ons that actually have something substantive to do with the music itself, and I’m a sucker for promotions that involve historic pegs – the anniversary of a composer’s birth or death, or of a composition’s first performance, for example. »

20 Dec 2004

Michael Tilson Thomas Turns 60

The ageless baton By Allan Ulrich Published: December 20 2004 13:44 | Last updated: December 20 2004 13:44 The conductor Michael Tilson Thomas turns 60 this week and, despite a few streaks of silver in his hair, his is a... »

19 Dec 2004

E' morta Renata Tebaldi

E' morta Renata Tebaldi Era la "rivale" di Maria Callas SAN MARINO - Renata Tebaldi è morta alle 03.30 nella sua casa di San Marino. La grande cantante lirica, nata a Pesaro, avrebbe compiuto 83 anni nel febbraio prossimo. La... »

17 Dec 2004

Krassimira Stoyanova: A Biographical Note

The Wiener Staatsoper's 2004-2005 season includes Verdi's Simon Boccanegra, which premiered on 8 December. Krassimira Stoyanova performed the role of "Amelia" to rave reviews. Beginning 3 January 2005, she will appear at the Met's production of Turandot in the role... »

15 Dec 2004

Renée Fleming: Not By Talent Alone

Aiming For Her Very Top Note Tue Dec 14, 7:00 PM ET Curt Schleier Renee Fleming understands that natural talent isn't enough to assure success. In fact, Fleming said during a recent interview, natural ability can work against you. Take... »

13 Dec 2004

Demonstrations of the École de Danse of the Ballet de l’Opéra National de Paris

The Paris Opera Ballet School, founded by Louis XIV in 1713—it’s the world’s oldest academy for producing classical dancers—is now located in a utilitarian complex specifically built for it in Nanterre, on the bleak outskirts of the City of Light. But for more than a century it was located in the bowels of the lavish Palais Garnier, at the hub of urban elegance. It was there—cocooned in that opera house’s imposing Second Empire decorative excesses of varicolored marble offset by gilt and bronze; of statues, bas-reliefs, frescos, and mosaics; of deep red plush and heavy figured and tasseled drapery; of an infinity of mirrors and chandeliers—that I saw the daylong program this extraordinary school, the oldest and arguably the greatest of its kind, modestly calls its “Demonstrations.” »

13 Dec 2004

What's On Le Figaro's Christmas List?

Notre sélection de DVD pour les fetes La rituelle ruée sur les cadeaux de Noel passe, cette année encore plus que la précédente, par le déferlement des DVD musicaux : archives, documentaires, retours sur les vieilles gloires ou concerts de... »

13 Dec 2004

Opera Etiquette

Going to the Theater Miss May The Epoch Times Dec 12, 2004 Dear Miss May: I am very lucky and am able to go to NY soon for a weekend of theater and, well, just enjoying New York. I attended... »

13 Dec 2004

Anna Netrebko on 60 Minutes

Anna Netrebko: A Happy Diva Singer Does Opera Music Videos Dec 12, 2004 7:45 pm US/Eastern Anna Netrebko in St. Petersburg Photograph: © Peter Rigaud There isn't a musical instrument on earth that can produce sounds as varied, as beautiful,... »

11 Dec 2004

Bolcom in Chicago

Marriage and manners By George Loomis [Financial Times] Published: December 10 2004 02:00 | Last updated: December 10 2004 02:00 The general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, William Mason, likes to put his company's relationship with William Bolcom in... »

03 Dec 2004

An Interview with Juan Diego Flórez

"Nunca he sido un melómano" Es el tenor del momento, y sorprende que ostente la corona al reconocérsele sólo como un experto rossiniano. Odia las entrevistas porque le roban parte de su tiempo libre, un tesoro que valora desde la... »