(Photo: Benjamin Ealovega)
Ashutosh Khandekar - Editor
From the current issue of Opera Now
Was 2014 a good year for opera? It was certainly a tempestuous one. Rows between managements and unions raged in New York and in Rome. The Met’s boss Peter Gelb muscled into a dispute over pay with dire warnings about the imminent demise of opera as we know it. We then saw him treading on eggshells as he tried to appease powerful Jewish lobbies on one hand and upholders of artistic freedom on the other, over the Met’s staging of The Death of Klinghoffer. In Rome, the opera house’s administration was about to shut up shop altogether when it found itself at loggerheads with its musicians. The result: one of Italy’s flagship opera companies was on the verge of having no orchestra and no chorus to its name.
Above all, 2014 will be remembered in opera circles as the year of the Moody Maestro. Four leading conductors threw down their batons and walked out of their jobs in some of Europe’s top opera houses: Muti in Rome; Welser-Möst in Vienna, Noseda in Turin and, just before Christmas, Ludovic Morlot in Brussels.
Large opera houses are like small nations: they are intensely political places, full of the sort of interpersonal friction (otherwise known as artistic temperament) that is usually creative, but can turn very nasty. Running an opera house is akin to peace-keeping – the art of reconciling a host of conflicting interests and mini-tantrums.
To give the opera world its due, 2014 showed that it is quite good at crisis management. At the Met and in Rome, a settlement was agreed; in Turin, Noseda was coaxed back into the pit. Harmony has been restored and the show goes on. Perhaps our politicians ought to spend a day or two behind the scenes at their local opera house to learn a few lessons about conflict resolution.
Opera Now will be doing its bit to ensure that this harmonious mood continues through 2015 by way of a second season of concerts, promoted by Rhinegold Publishing. Rhinegold LIVE is free, informal and fun – occasions where artists and audience interact in a personal way that you rarely experience in a conventional concert setting. Each concert is presented by one of our august magazine editors, and next up for Opera Now, on 29 April is a recital by the extraordinary Carolyn Sampson, a soprano who has won international acclaim for her pure, intensely expressive approach to the Baroque and Classical repertoire. Carolyn will be launching her new solo CD, Fleurs, at this event.
In the meantime, you can catch the phenomenal young one-handed pianist Nicholas McCarthy on 28 January. On 24 March there’s a chance to hear one of the world’s longest-running chamber groups, the Allegri Quartet. Other dates for the diary are violinist Jennifer Pike on 10 June and Artur Pizzaro on 29 September.
Click here to sign up for your free entry to any of our concerts at London’s Conway Hall where you can join us for a complimentary glass of wine – we’d be delighted to see you there. Which leads me to raise a glass to all our readers and wish them a Happy and Harmonious New Year!
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