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Latest News

WNO appoints new managing director

5 August 2015, Katy Wright

Leonora Thomson
Leonora Thomson

Welsh National Opera has appointed Leonora Thomson as its new managing director. Currently director of audiences and development at the Barbican Centre, Thomson is to take up the position in December 2015. She will work alongside David Poutney, who has extended his contract as artistic director until 2019.

Thomson began her career with EMI Classics as international press and promotions manager, before moving to Radio 3 where she held posts as head of publicity and classic music tv and later strategic communications adviser. She joined the Barbican in 2008 as head of communications, and in 2010 became director of audiences and development.

In her current role, Thomson helped the Barbican achieve record attendances of 1.8m people and record box office figures. She has also been responsible for developing the centre's digital strategy, and developed its relationships with higher education institutions.

WNO chairman Geraint Talfan Davies said: 'I believe Leonora’s political astuteness, openness and strongly analytical approach, not to mention her unusually varied experience, will be a real asset to the company as we face the stiff challenges of the next few years.'

Thomson said: 'I’m thrilled to have been asked to join David at WNO, working with the management team and Board to ensure WNO realises its future ambitions. It’s a privilege to be joining a company with such a great history and brilliant reputation, and which plays such a key role in national life. Opera has always been a major part of life for me, and it’s wonderful to have the chance now to work for one of the UK’s leading opera companies.'

Welsh National Opera

Jonas Kaufmann warns against Decca release

28 July 2015

Kaufmann warned fans against the Decca release
Kaufmann warned fans against the Decca release

The tenor advised fans to choose his upcoming Sony release instead
The tenor advised fans to choose his upcoming Sony release instead

Jonas Kaufmann has posted a message on his Facebook page warning fans not to buy an upcoming release on Decca Classics.

The tenor advises fans to wait for the ‘real’ album, recorded with Sony and due for release on 11 September:

Dear Friends,

Please don’t let yourselves be deceived by the Decca release Jonas Kaufmann – The Age of Puccini. This compilation contains only 3 Puccini arias – my recordings of ‘Che gelida manina’ and ‘E lucevan le stelle’ from 2007 and a scene from La Rondine, that I recorded with Renée Fleming in 2008 for the Verismo album. The remaining 18 tracks are essentially my old recording Verismo Arias from 2010. Therefore familiar recordings – in new packaging. I was not consulted in its making, this was done without my knowledge and approval

The ‘real’ Puccini album which I recorded with Antonio Pappano in Rome in Autumn last year is titled Nessun dorma and will be released on Sony in the middle of September. It exclusively contains arias and scenes from Puccini’s operas including highlights from Manon Lescaut, La Bohème, Tosca, La Fanciulla del West and Turandot.

Jonas Kaufmann

A preview of Nessun dorma – The Puccini Album on the Presto Classics website reads:

‘The disc will include excerpts from roles which Kaufmann has already conquered on stage, such as Dick Johnson in La Fanciulla del West (following his role-debut in Vienna last year, the New York Times observed that he ‘sings Dick with burnished tone that is possessed of both heft and ring’), Cavaradossi in Tosca, Ruggero in La Rondine, Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut and Rodolfo in La Bohème (this last one not ‘on stage’ as such – Kaufmann famously jumped in to sing from the wings when Piotr Beczala lost his voice at the 2012 Salzburg Festival: the Huffington Post raved that ‘Kaufmann accented his broad, full-throated and awe-inspiring Wagnerian tenor with gestures and facial expressions reflecting his total identification with the role of a man tossed and turned by the forces of love and despair’).

‘There are also comparative rarities such as ‘Orgia, chimera dall’occhio vitreo’ from Edgar and ‘Torna ai felici dì’ from Le villi, a glimpse of what-might-have-been in the form of Rinuccio’s aria from Gianni Schicchi (a relatively light lyric role which Kaufmann is now pretty unlikely to assume on stage), and teasers for two potential future roles (though he’s remaining tight-lipped about concrete plans), the ill-starred stevedore Luigi in Il tabarro and of course the ‘unknown prince’ Calàf in Turandot.

Jonas Kaufmann

Operalia 2015 winners announced

20 July 2015, London, UK

Domingo with Lise Davidsen and Ioan Hotea
Domingo with Lise Davidsen and Ioan Hotea(Photo: Alastair Muir)

The Romanian tenor Ioan Hotea and Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen have been named as the joint winners of Plácido Domingo's 2015 Operalia competition, which took place last week at London's Royal Opera House.

Both first prize winners also garnered other titles: Hotea won the Don Plácido Domingo Sr. Prize of Zarzuela, while Davidsen took the Birgit Nilsson prize and the Rolex audience prize.

This year’s jury included Joan Matabosch (artistic director of Madrid’s Teatro Real), Eva Wagner (former co-director of the Bayreuth Festival) and Anthony Freud (general director, Lyric Opera of Chicago).

Operalia 2015 prizewinners

  • First Prizes ($30k) – Ioan Hotea, Romania/Lise Davidsen, Norway
  • Second Prizes ($20k) – Darren Pene Pati, New Zealand/Hye Sang Park, South Korea
  • Third Prizes ($10k) – Edward Parks, USA/Noluvuyiso Mpofu, South Africa
  • Birgit Nilsson Prize ($15k) – Lise Davidsen, Norway
  • Don Plácido Domingo Sr. Prize of Zarzuela ($10k) – Ioan Hotea, Romania
  • Pepita Embil Domingo Prize of Zarzuela ($10k) – Hye Sang Park, South Korea
  • Rolex Audience Prizes – Darren Pene Pati, New Zealand/Lise Davidsen, Norway
  • CulturArte Prize ($10k) – Kiandra Howarth, Australia

A full review of this year's Operalia will be published in the September issue of Opera Now


Auto-translating opera glasses trialled at Avignon

16 July 2015, Katy Wright

Audience members test the glasses
Audience members test the glasses

The world’s first auto-translating opera glasses made their debut at this year’s Avignon Festival.

Co-developed by Atos and Theatre in Paris, the augmented reality glasses allow audience members to choose surtitles in their native language, which are displayed on the glasses at a pace matching that of the performance.

The technology was used for the first time during performances of King Lear at the Palais de Papes, with the option of translation into French, English or Mandarin. It will undergo further testing at future festival productions.

Paul Rodin, managing director of the Avignon Festival, said: ‘These glasses not only demonstrate technological prowess, but are an accessibility tool, providing a simple way for cultures to be spread and making the ‘other’ accessible to very different publics.’

Further alterations will be made before the glasses are rolled out for general use. A greater selection of languages and additional content (such as superimposed 3D animation and dramatic effects) will be available, while those with hearing difficulties will be able to customise the devices.

According to Carl de Poncins of Theatre in Paris, the final product could be in use in opera houses and theatres in the UK within a year.

Operalia finalists announced

16 July 2015, Katy Wright

The finalists for the 2015 Operalia competition have been announced. 11 singers will perform in the opera final, while five will sing for the Zarzuela prize.

The opera finalists are:

  • Edward Parks, baritone, USA
  • Andrea Carroll, soprano, USA
  • Julien Behr, tenor, France
  • Kiandra Howarth, soprano, Australia
  • Bongani Justice Kubheka, bass-baritone, South Africa
  • Hyesang Park, soprano, South Korea
  • Tobias Greenhalgh, baritone, USA
  • Darren Pene Pati, tenor, New Zealand
  • Noluvuyiso Mpofu, soprano, South Africa
  • Ioan Hotea, tenor, Romania
  • Lise Davidsen, soprano, Norway

The Zarzuela finalists are:
  • Andrea Carroll, soprano, USA
  • Darren Pene Pati, tenor, New Zealand
  • Kiandra Howarth, soprano, Australia
  • Ioan Hotea, tenor, Romania
  • Hyesang Park, soprano, South Korea
The final round of the competition will take place on 19 July at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.


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