Galina Averina wins Bampton Opera young singers' competition
19 November 2015
Russian soprano Galina Averina has been announced as the winner of the Bampton Classical Opera Young Singers' Competition 2015. She wins a prize of £1,500.
A Samling Artist 2015, Averina is currently studying with Dinah Harris at the Royal College of Music, supported by the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation and an Independent Opera Voice Scholarship. She won sixth prize and the audience prize in the 2015 Francisco Viñas International Contest, and junior prize at the 2013 Les Azuriales Opera International Singing Competition.
Her programme for the final round of the competition (which took place 14 November in Oxford's Holywell Music Room) included Rachmaninov's 'How fair this place', 'Al destin, che la minaccia’ from Mozart's Mitridate, re di Ponto and 'Marfa's Aria’ from Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tsar's Bride (Rimsky-Korsakov).
The judging panel, comprising tenor Bonaventura Bottone, Andrew Parrott and Peter Robinson, said of Averina: 'Galina gave a winner’s performance on Saturday evening. She showed us technical ability in the Rachmaninov, with her approach to the final upper lying phrase sung with beauty and ease. Her characterisation throughout her programme constantly spoke to the audience […] she imbued her performance with charm and wit.'
Second prize went to Welsh soprano Céline Forrest, currently a young artist at the National Opera Studio. Forrest won the 2014 Richard Lewis Award and the Pavarotti Prize, and represented Wales in the 2015 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.
The biennial competition, which aims to identify the finest emerging young opera singers currently working in the UK, was launched in 2013 to celebrate Bampton Classical Opera's 20th birthday. The inaugural winner was Anna Starushkeyvch.
Bampton Classical Opera Young Singers' Competition
Glyndebourne appoints Sebastian Schwarz as general director
17 November 2015
Glyndebourne has appointed Sebastian F. Schwarz as general director. He will take up the new role in May 2016, becoming the opera company’s seventh general director.
He has previously worked as an assistant to the opera director at Staatsoper Hamburg, a language coach at Teatro La Fenice, an artists’ manager in Milan and Venice, and a member of the company management team at Wexford Festival Opera.
Schwarz said: ‘Glyndebourne stands for excellence in performance and it provides an unmistakably English way of experiencing some of the world’s best opera. It is with the greatest joy that I follow the call to this superb company to continue to share my passion and enthusiasm for this most complete of all performing art forms.’
Gus Christie, executive chairman of Glyndebourne, said: ‘Sebastian’s pedigree and background will bring a fresh perspective to Glyndebourne and I am confident that he will build on our rich and varied operatic history.’
Glyndebourne music director Robin Ticciati said: ‘I am extremely excited about what Sebastian Schwarz will bring to the future of Glyndebourne, especially his own personal artistic vision and his inspiring approach to what he believes opera can be in the 21st century.’
Schwarz succeeds David Pickard, the new director of the BBC Proms.
ACE grants ENO extra year of funding
16 November 2015
ENO chairman Dr Harry Brünjes
Arts Council England (ACE) is to extend funding for English National Opera (ENO) until 2018. The opera house will receive an extra £12.38m while remaining under special monitoring arrangements.
ACE noted that ENO had made good progress in improving its operations, but still has further work to do to ensure its future sustainability.
The funding body announced that ENO would not be admitted into its national portfolio of organisations for 2015-18 in February 2015, following a period of instability in which the company's chairman and executive director left within weeks of one another.
The decision to award an extra year of funding follows the company's recent appointments of Dr Harry Brünjes as chairman and Cressida Pollock as chief executive.
Although ENO remains without an artistic director (after the departure of John Berry in July 2015), the company's recent work has received a positive reaction. Its production of The Pirates of Penzance broke UK box office records, and it received two Olivier awards at the 2015 ceremony: director Richard Jones received the ‘outstanding achievement in opera’ award, while his production of The Mastersingers of Nuremberg was deemed ‘best new opera production’.
The company has also revealed plans to open up the Coliseum's foyer. The space will host a wine bar and cafe, which the company hopes will encourage more people to enter the building.
The ACE's statement reads:
'The Arts Council believes that the ENO is fully committed to achieving positive and sustainable changes to its operating model. A CEO has been appointed until 2018 to lead the company through substantial operational changes and the organisation has made good progress in restructuring the financial and operational management of the company. Progress has also been made in strengthening the organisation’s governance and leadership structure – a permanent chair has now been recruited and board membership is being refreshed.
'Given the progress made so far, the Arts Council has confirmed an additional year (2017-18) of funding for ENO of £12.38m. The funding will provide the organisation further time to implement the necessary changes to ensure that it has a sustainable and resilient business model capable over the long term of producing and presenting excellent opera to large audiences.'
ENO chairman Dr Harry Brünjes said of the news: 'We are very happy that Arts Council England have confirmed our third year of funding. We continue to work closely together to ensure the continued financial stability of ENO.
'We are working hard to meet the long-term challenge to ensure that ENO is able to continue to produce artistic work of the highest quality whilst remaining financially stable. We are very happy to have the continued support of ACE as we tackle these challenges over the months and years ahead.'
English National Opera
Strike at La Scala
13 November 2015
La Scala, Milan
A technicians' strike on 12 November forced La Scala to cancel the first night of Kenneth MacMillan's Manon.
A statement on the house's website reads:
'We are extremely sorry to announce that despite all efforts the ballet L’histoire de Manon cannot be performed tonight because of the absence of the stage technicians.
'As the strike was declared unilaterally by the CGIL union, while all the other unions – UIL, FIALS and CISL – were ready to work, we were hoping that a sufficient number of technicians would be present tonight in order to put on the ballet floor, which is absolutely necessary to perform the show and assure a safe performance for the artists. These simple conditions were not granted.'
A period of recession has prompted the Italian government to establish austerity measures, reducing funding for the arts and prompting demonstrations across Italy.
The SLC-CGIL union said in a statement: 'This battle is not only about the stage technicians, who have been understaffed for months. It is up to everyone to oppose the company philosophy of doing more with fewer resources.'
Opera Now editor Ashutosh Khandekar said: 'These sort of strikes are par for the course in Italian opera houses, where big opening nights are regarded as political events as much as artistic ones - especially in major theatres such as La Scala where people with money and influence go to be seen. As a result, the strikers are aware that their actions will gain attention in the media and serve to embarrass the establishment.
'Of all Italy's opera houses, La Scala has been relatively stable in recent years since its status as one of the nation's main cultural flagship and its international 'brand value' have enabled it to attract private investment to make up for deep government cuts to the arts.
'The current strike seems to indicate that even the highest echelons of culture are not immune to Italy's austerity programme. Moreover, the strikers are taking strategic advantage of a relatively new administrative regime led by general director Alexander Pereira who has just completed his first season at La Scala, but whose position has been dogged by uncertainty and controversy.'
Nominations open for the International Opera Awards 2016
9 November 2015
Nominations are now open for the International Opera Awards
2016, which will recognise and reward the operatic highlights of 2015.
Prizes will be awarded for the below categories:
- CD (complete opera)
- CD (operatic recital)
- Female singer
- Lifetime achievement
- Male singer
- New production
- Rediscovered work
- World premiere
- Young singer
Nominations can be submitted here
and multiple submissions are acceptable.
The 2016 awards will take place on 22 May.
Vote: 2016 Internatioanl Opera Awards 2016
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