Canadian Opera Company announces major new commission
16 January 2015, Toronto, Canada
Above and below: composer Ana Sokolović and librettist Michel Marc Bouchard
Canadian Opera Company has announced the commission of a major new opera by one of Canada’s most important composers, Ana Sokolović. Titled La Reine-Garçon, the libretto is by Quebec playwright Michel Marc Bouchard and based on his play of the same name.
Queen Christina of Sweden ruled the country in the 17th century before causing a scandal by abdicating her throne at the age of 27 and converting to Roman Catholicism. Her story has been the subject of several stage works, novels and films, including the 1933 classic Queen Christina, starring Greta Garbo.
La Reine-Garçon is currently in development and is scheduled to have its world premiere in the COC’s 2019/2020 season.
This will be the fourth opera commission for Serbian-born, Montreal-based Sokolović, and by far her biggest so far after writing three chamber operas for Toronto’s innovative Queen of Puddings Music Theatre, which closed in 2013. ‘As a woman and as an artist,’ she says, ‘I am particularly touched by this story about the Swedish Queen Christina. She was an inspiring woman ahead of her time.’
In 2012, Sokolović won huge critical acclaim for her opera Svadba-Wedding, which will feature in this summer’s Aix-en-Provence Festival in France.
La Reine-Garçon is Canadian Opera Company’s sixth commission for its main stage. On announcing this latest new opera, the company’s general director Alexander Neff said: ‘The subject of Christine of Sweden is one of Shakespearean proportion with universal relevance. I think it will make a fantastic opera, especially in the hands of Ana and Michel Marc.’
International Opera Awards announce 2015 finalists
14 January 2015, London, UK
Michael Spyres as Benvenuto Cellini at ENO(Photo: Richard Hubert Smith)
The International Opera Awards have announced the shortlist of nominees for the 2015 Awards, which take place at the Savoy Theatre and Hotel in London on 26 April.
Awards will be presented in 19 categories, ranging from ‘Accessibility’ and ‘Newcomer’ to ‘Rediscovered Work’ and ‘World Premiere’, along with a range of standard categories that celebrate leading talent across the industry, from singers and conductors to directors and designers. Recordings are recognised in three awards for CDs and DVDs. Winners are selected by the jury in a secret ballot for each category.
Top international names feature prominently among the finalists, including German baritone Christian Gerhaher and American bel canto tenor Michael Spyres, both competing for ‘Male Singer’. Among a new generation of stars in the ‘Female Singer’ list are two especially striking artists: Georgian mezzo Anita Rachvelishvili and Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva.
This year’s ‘Opera Company’ Award is sponsored by Opera Now magazine. Finalists include English National Opera (strongly represented in several categories), both of Belgium’s national opera companies, and major companies in Germany, Russia and Austria.
The Awards, founded by UK businessman and opera aficionado Harry Hyman, are now in their third year, with major sponsorship from Sanlam Private Investments. This year’s event has a new format, with a ceremony featuring live performances at the Savoy Theatre followed by a gala dinner at the Savoy Hotel. Funds raised from the event will go to the International Opera Awards Foundation which supports emerging talent from all spheres of operatic life.
- For a full list of this year’s finalists in the International Opera Awards, click here
- To book tickets click here
Opera Now’s May issue will include a special focus on this year’s Awards.
For your chance to win two tickets to the glittering International Opera Awards ceremony in London’s Savoy Theatre on 26 April, see our Reader Competition in the forthcoming February 2015 issue of Opera Now.
Garsington Opera receives major grant from Arts Council England
7 January 2015
Holiday-makers in Skegness enjoy a free screening by Garsington Opera
Garsington Opera has received a £750,000 grant from Arts Council England, in partnership with East Lindsey District Council, to roll out its Opera for All programme, delivering free public screenings of its productions around Britain integrated with educational and outreach work around each event. The project, initially for three years, will be delivered through members of the Coastal Communities Alliance (CCA), which has identified areas of low engagement with the arts where opera is difficult to access.
Juan Diego Flórez sings for Children’s Rights at the UN
10 December 2014, Geneva, Switzerland
Juan Diego Flórez with children of the Sinfonía por el Perú
Opera superstar Juan Diego Flórez will be doing his bit for world peace this evening when he appears in an international line up of singers in the inaugural ‘Concert for Peace’ at the United Nations Palace in Geneva.
The Peruvian tenor will be joined by South African Soprano Pretty Yende, Egyptian Fatma Said and the Russian bass Sergei Artamonov in a concert that marks World Human Rights Day today, singing a selection of opera arias by Mozart, Donizetti and Bellini, and national songs ranging from the Egyptian classics to traditional Peruvian and Zulu folk songs.
In his role as UN Goodwill Ambassador, Flórez will also be delivering a speech during the evening, promoting ‘children’s right to dignity and education through music’.
Spanish conductor Pablo Mielgo will head the Harmonia Symphony Orchestra, made up mostly by young musicians who take part in projects using music as a tool for the development of children and youth social integration.
The concert, sponsored by the ONUART Foundation, will be broadcast both live and on-demand to the 58 member countries of the European Broadcasting Union – Eurovision. At a later date, it will be broadcast worldwide and released on DVD.
The concert takes place in the UN’s Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room in Geneva tonight at 6:30 pm (Central European Time).
Royal Opera launches young composer competition
4 December 2014, London, UK
Covent Garden's energetic Italian/American maestro Antonio Pappano(Photo: Sim Canetty-Clarke)
The Royal Opera House has launched the 2015 Fanfare Competition, which invites young musicians to compose short pieces to be played in the front-of-house areas of its theatre.
Entrants should be aged from 11 to 16, and their compositions of around 30 seconds should be uploaded as MP3 files to the Fanfare Competition website at www.roh.org.uk/fanfare. The website also has resources to provide inspiration and guidance.
Winning entrants will be invited to a series of workshops, where their music will be arranged by composer Duncan Chapman and played by members of the ROH Orchestra, conducted by music director Antonio Pappano. The final versions will be recorded at the Opera House and played before of every performance on the main stage as well as during the intervals, in lieu of the traditional bell which calls audiences to their seats.
This year, the ROH is inviting entrants to write music inspired by maestro Pappano, drawing on his energetic personality, his Italian/American roots and his love of Italian opera.
The first Fanfare Competition was launched in 2009 and so far 50 winning entries have been recorded and played at the Royal Opera House.
The closing date for entries is 13 February 2015.
Click here to watch a video introducing the competition.
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