martin randall 2015

Opera Now provides a unique and all-encompassing perspective on the international opera scene through its lively and colourful mix of news, reviews, interviews, travel articles and commentary.

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ISM performers and composers 2015

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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


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.


Armed robber takes €11k from Greek National Opera

13 July 2015, Katy Wright

The Olympia Theatre, home to Greek National Opera
The Olympia Theatre, home to Greek National Opera

The extended bank holiday in Greece has seen individuals and businesses to hoard cash rather than deposit it in a bank – and led to a parallel increase in robberies. On the morning of Wednesday last week (8 July), the Greek National Opera’s accounts office was held up by an armed robber who made off with €11,000 (£7,800). The cashier present at the time was slightly injured but released from hospital later that day.

The incident was kept under wraps until the weekend when a report leaked to the press and the company’s administration was forced to release the details.

It is not known whether the incident was directly related to the postponement, announced on 9 July, of the GNO’s production of Carmen at the outdoor Odeon of Herodes Atticus amphitheatre, original scheduled for 26 to 31 July. It is clear, however, that the ongoing uncertainty and lack of functioning services in Greece is severely affecting its companies’ ability to operate.

Greek National Opera

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