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.
Operas by Kerry Andrew top two categories at this year's British Composer Awards
3 December 2014, London, UK
The real deal: Kerry Andrew poses with her two awards(Photo: Mark Allan)
The British Composer Awards took place yesterday at Goldsmiths’ Hall in London. Sir Harrison Birtwistle won his sixth career award for Songs from the same Earth in the Vocal category, while Kerry Andrew was the star of the night with two awards for operas: Woodwose: A Community Chamber Opera in the Community or Educational Project category, and Dart’s Love in the Stage Works category.
Dart's Love received its world premiere at London's Tête à Tête Opera Festival in August 2013. Inspired by the folk saying 'River Dart, River Dart, every year thou claim'st a heart', the opera tells the story of the lovesick River Dart's destructive passion for a handsome Wild Swimmer.
Woodwose was also inspired by folk stories and folk song, using material provided by 140 people from Westminster aged 8 to 80. Isabelle Adams, one of the community members who took part in the project, said 'this is a piece with real artistic and creative integrity, not just children singing a song or adults having a go'.
Julia Haferkorn and Ed McKeon, artistic directors of the British Composer Awards, commented: ’This year’s Awards show that British Music is alive and thinking, singing and imagining new expressive possibilities. There’s a spring in its step and dreams on the tip of its tongue. The winning pieces reflect the incredible originality and diversity of our new music, making the Awards a terrific showcase of music for all open-eared listeners.’
2014 British Composer Awards – Winners List
- Instrumental Solo or Duo
Solitude by Rebecca Saunders
Danaё by Martin Iddon
Songs from the same Earth by Harrison Birtwistle
Night Flight by Cecilia McDowall
- Wind Band or Brass Band
Journey of the Lone Wolf by Simon Dobson
Frieze by Mark-Anthony Turnage
- Stage Works
Dart’s Love by Kerry Andrew
Chaconne for Jonathan Harvey by Ed Hughes
- Sonic Art
Public Address by Tom White
- Contemporary Jazz Composition
The Study of Touch by Django Bates
- Community or Educational Project
Woodwose: A Community Chamber Opera by Kerry Andrew
- Making Music Award
Loch Awe by Steve Forman
- International Award
Circle Map by Kaija Saariaho
Rome Opera saved from the brink
24 November 2014, Rome, Italy
Teatro dell'Opera di Roma
The future of the Teatro dell’Opera, Rome’s principal opera company, has been secured after a deal was signed between the theatre’s management and unions which reversed an earlier decision to sack the entire orchestra and chorus of the opera.
At the beginning of October, it was announced that 182 orchestral musicians and chorus members would lose their full-time contracts in a bid bring the Teatro dell’Opera back from the brink of financial collapse. The news provoked outrage in the international opera world, with accusations of ‘cultural vandalism’ being directed at the opera’s management. A series of campaigns in the media and by prominent cultural organisations across Europe put further pressure on the city authorities in Rome to avert the crisis.
Following a month of intense negotiations, musicians and choristers have accepted a deal that makes provisions for €1.5m worth of savings across the entire payroll of the opera company, with another €1.9m of savings coming from cuts to overheads and production costs. The deal has been ratified by 97 per cent of the opera house’s employees and the Teatro dell’Opera’s general manager Carlo Fuortes announced last week that it’s ‘back to work as normal’ for the company.
The row between Rome’s musicians unions and opera management was sparked off following the embarrassment of Maestro Riccardo Muti quitting his position as honorary music director at the house, claiming that the Teatro dell’Opera was unable to offer the ‘serene conditions’ to work productively.
Ignazio Marino, the mayor of Rome, said: ‘This is a successful outcome for the whole city. The opera can now return to work with serenity … I hope maestro Muti may revise his decision.’
La Monnaie appeals against budget cuts
20 November 2014, Brussels, Belgium
Cultural flagship: Belgium's La Monnaie/De Munt(Photo: Johan Jacobs)
Belgium’s national opera company, La Monnaie/De Munt, has been ordered to cut its spending by €6.5m over the next five years. The dictum from Belgium’s federal government has been described by La Monnaie’s director, Peter de Caluwe, as a step in the direction of a ‘cultural blackout’.
In addition to savings of 4 per cent on staff and 20 per cent on operating costs, the government has mooted the idea of merging La Monnaie’s orchestra with the National Orchestra of Belgium (ONB). In Caluwe’s words: ‘The government will examine how synergies and efficiencies can be achieved through close collaboration with the ONB and La Monnaie.’
News of the cuts has provoked outrage and concern across the opera world, prompting an open letter from the chairman of the industry body Deutschsprachige Opernkonferenz, whose members include all the major German opera houses plus La Scala, Paris Opera and London’s Royal Opera House.
‘The facts are clear and shocking: Belgium expects La Monnaie to save almost €3m by January, rising to a total of around €6.5m by 2019. Taking into consideration cuts made over the last five years, La Monnaie's budget will be reduced by 30 per cent,’ writes Opernkonferenz chairman Bernd Loebe. ‘It is a mystery how, on top of the endless legal battles with lawyers and trade unions, a social climate in the opera house and artistic productivity can be maintained.’
Loebe now runs Frankfurt Opera, but was the director of La Monnaie from 1990 to 2002. Praising La Monnaie’s high artistic standards and culture of ‘working with less’, his letter ends with an impassioned plea: ‘A theatre of La Monnaie’s quality should not be doomed in this cynical way! I call on the people of Europe to oppose the tasteless notions of the powers that be, and to our own politicians I say: do not allow an institution that has represented Belgium so positively at home and abroad to fall into ruins.’
La Monnaie’s 2014/15 season includes 20 productions, over a third of which are new. Last month saw the company’s world premiere of Shell Shock, a new opera commemorating the centenary of World War One.
Portland Opera at 50 – becoming a summer festival
17 November 2014, Portland US
Portland Opera's 'Die Fledermaus'(Photo: Karen Almond)
Report by Karyl Charna Lynn
Earlier this month Portland Opera launched its fiftieth anniversary season with a sparkling production of Die Fledermaus, the same opera which inaugurated the company half a century ago.
It's a milestone that has prompted Portland Opera to take a close look at its strategy for the future. The result is a new summer opera festival that will replace the current season from 2016. It's a transformation designed to guarantee the survival of the company for the next half century.
In recent years, while many opera companies have either folded or been forced to make severe budget cuts to survive, Portland Opera has weathered the storm with a balanced budget, full schedule and staff. PO general director Christopher Mattaliano puts this success down to 'thinking outside the box', including a long-running Broadway Series that nets the company more than half a million dollars annually, and the purchase of its own building, Hampton Opera Center, in 2003.
Yet the company has not been completely immune to the effects of the financial crisis, changing tastes and operagoers' changing habits, so to stay financially sound Mattaliano has decided to move to the spring/summer opera festival model.
'One of the primary reasons for this transformation is to make the 900-seat Newmark Theater our primary home,' explains Mattaliano. 'Our patrons prefer the intimate setting and we are excited about doing operas in a smaller space. It will offer a better experience and save us money by reducing the company’s operating expense by 8 per cent.'
Portland Opera's 2016 season includes four productions at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts. Two of these will take place in the intimate Newmark Theatre, the company's new preferred stage for bel canto repertoire, Mozart (except The Magic Flute) and less familiar repertoire. The remaining two prodcutions will be staged in the company's current home, the 3,000-seat Keller Auditorium.
'The festival will last three months,' says Mattaliano, 'with a series of auxiliary events presented in conjunction with Portland’s other cultural organisations.' The Hampton Opera Center will also play a prominent role in hosting workshops, recitals, chamber opera and post-performance receptions.
Portland experiences an enormous influx of tourists during the summer, a fact on which the company hopes to capitalise by turning Portland Opera Festival into a summer destination like Santa Fe Opera.
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