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ISM performers and composers 2015

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Latest News

Wigmore Hall director in plea to save the song recital

8 August 2015, London, UK

John Gilhooly: 'Now is the time to take action'
John Gilhooly: 'Now is the time to take action'(Photo: Benjamin Ealovega)

John Gilhooly has launched an impassioned plea to save the song recital, which he says is at risk of becoming an ‘endangered species’.

‘Some commentators insist that the song recital is living on borrowed time’, writes the director of London’s Wigmore Hall. ‘They point to ageing audiences, patchy programming at leading concert venues, and the incompatibility of narrowing attention spans and deep listening to refined settings of poetic texts. The number of song recitals around Europe is quite clearly in decline. This is a concern that we cannot afford to ignore.’

Wigmore Hall, he points out, is one of the few venues still offering a rich programme of song recitals as well as its own International Song Competition. A total of 96 song recitals will be given at Wigmore Hall during the 2015/16 season, including the first part of a two-year Schubert series presenting all 600 of the composer’s Lieder.

‘It is simply not good enough to accept that the song recital is an endangered species and wait for it to expire’, says Gilhooly. ‘Now is the time to take action, to raise capital and invest in ambitious song programmes, to foster extraordinary emerging talent and connect people with the greatest song recitalists of our time.

The Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation’s 2015 International Song Competition runs 6-10 September. Schubert: The Complete Songs opens on 22 September with a recital by the Austrian baritone Florian Boesch and pianist Graham Johnson.

Wigmore Hall

Santa Fe announces Steve Jobs opera

7 August 2015, Katy Wright

Mason Bates
Mason BatesTodd Rosenberg

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs

Mark Campbell
Mark CampbellLaura Marie Duncan

Santa Fe Opera has commissioned composer Mason Bates and librettist Mark Campbell to write an opera based on the life of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died of cancer in 2011. The opera will focus on Jobs’ battle with cancer, examining the events and people that shaped and inspired him.

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, which will premiere in 2017, will be Bates’ first produced opera. Kevin Newbury will direct and Michael Christie, music director at Minnesota Opera, will make his Santa Fe Opera conducting debut.

A statement from Santa Fe Opera says that the work will pay tribute to ‘one of the most fascinating figures of our time; an innovator who simplified communication with sleek devices, but who paradoxically learned that complex human relationships require more than one button to work.’ Bates will seek ‘to capture the buzzing creative realm of Silicon Valley with a kinetic electro-acoustic score, lush vocal writing, a compelling non-linear narrative, and a production as innovative as the man himself.’

General director Charles MacKay said: ‘The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs will mark the Company’s 15th world premiere, continuing the tradition of producing work that pushes the boundaries of the art form. We are delighted to take this journey into the life and legacy of a distinctly American figure through the creative genius of Mason Bates and Mark Campbell.’

The opera will receive its first workshop in September.

Santa Fe Opera

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 advised fans to wait for his ‘real’ new album, recorded with Sony and due for release on 11 September.

‘Please don’t let yourselves be deceived by the Decca release Jonas Kaufmann – The Age of Puccini,’ said the tenor’s posting. He went on to explain that the disc ‘contains only three Puccini arias’ and is ‘essentially my old recording Verismo Arias from 2010 … in new packaging’. Furthermore, he said that Decca had not consulted him about the release, which ‘was done without my knowledge and approval.’

Kaufmann’s new Sony album, Nessun dorma, was recorded with Antonio Pappano in 2014 and features arias and scenes from Puccini’s operas including highlights from Manon Lescaut, La bohème, Tosca, La fanciulla del West and Turandot.

Earlier this year, Kaufmann appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, where he raised concerns about the way artists are treated by the classical music industry. He said that he and his colleagues felt as though they were in ‘straight-jackets’, having to make diary commitments years in advance. ‘I always compare it to a painter and you have to make him choose the colours that he will paint in five years’ time,’ said Kaufmann. ‘Artistically speaking it’s a catastrophe’.

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


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