martin randall 2015

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International Opera Awards announces 2015 winners

27 April 2015, London, UK

Barrie Kosky: 'We are immensely privileged to do what we do.'
Barrie Kosky: 'We are immensely privileged to do what we do.'(Photo: Jan Windszus)

The winners of the International Opera Awards 2015 were announced last night in a glittering ceremony at the Savoy Theatre hosted by Richard E. Grant.

Anja Harteros and Christian Gerhaher won accolades for best female and best male singer. The young singer award went to Justina Gringyte, who will make her role debut as Carmen at ENO in May 2015, while the newcomer prize went to stage director Lotte de Beer. Berlin's Komische Oper won the coveted company of the year category, sponsored by Rhinegold's Opera Now. Artistic director Barrie Kosky said: 'We are immensely privileged to do what we do, and I remind my wonderful team at the Komische Oper of this every day.'

After winning two Oliviers earlier this month, Richard Jones continued his success as he picked up the director's award. Speight Jenkins, former general director of Seattle Opera, won the lifetime achievement award and Semyon Bychkov was named best conductor.

British companies fared well: the chorus award went to Welsh National Opera and Birmingham Opera Company's Khovanskygate was named production of the year. The Royal Opera’s production of Die Frau ohne Schatten topped a strong line-up of Richard Strauss anniversary stagings, awarded in memory of the eminent critic and Strauss biographer Michael Kennedy, and presented by his widow Joyce Kennedy.

Although speeches from winners were not encouraged, two prominent figures made notable comments: David Pountney, accepting the best festival award for Brengenz, pointed out that 'a little town of 28,000 people attracts over 200,000 people and brings €160m (£115m)' into the local economy every year. Meanwhile, Graham Vick, artistic director of Birmingham Opera Company, said 'our average audience is under 40 and Khovanskygate had 200 volunteer participants whose average age was 28 – and 50 per cent of them were black or of mixed ethnicity.' He added: 'If we're talking about the future, that's what we need to talk about.'

Live performances came from readers' award winner Aleksandra Kurzak and young singer of the year Justina Gringyte, with Lawrence Brownlee and Carolyn Sampson also performing. The evening raised money for the Opera Awards Foundation, which supports artists and opera professionals early in their careers.

See the full list of winners here:

Subscribe to Opera Now as a print or digital edition now for more news, features and information. Single issues are also available in print and digital from just £2.49.

Operatic music spanning 400 years at the Proms 2015

24 April 2015

Starry Last Night: Jonas Kaufmann
Starry Last Night: Jonas Kaufmann

This year’s BBC Proms programme  features relatively little opera, but what there is covers the gamut of operatic history, from Monteverdi to Sondheim.

Among the highlights of the 2015 season is the Albert Hall debut of Grange Park Opera with Fiddler on the Roof, another Proms first, starring Bryn Terfel in the lead role of Tevye,  with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by David Charles Abell.

There is also the regular festival visit of Glyndebourne which brings a semi-staged version of its new production of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail conducted by Robin Ticciati.

Scrolling back the start of operatic history, the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloist perform Monteverdi’s Orfeo under Sir John Eliot Gardiner. 

The stars are out on the Last Night of the Proms: tenor Jonas Kaufmann and soprano Danielle de Niese do the honours, in a programme that is inevitably strong on romance, including music by Puccini, Lehar and Copeland.

 In other opera-related concerts, Alice Coote performs a Late Night Prom which explores Handel and ‘travesty’ – the gender-bending aspects of the composer’s operatic roles.

 Meanwhile, there’s the return of a proms favourite – Verdi’s Requiem, featuring the chorus of the Deutsche Oper, Berlin and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Donald Runnicles. And in a lighter mode at Cadogan Hall, Siân Philips, Kitty Whately and Jamie Parker celebrate Stephen Sondheim’s 85th birthday with a ‘Sondheim Cabaret’

Click here for BBC Proms programme

London's Royal Opera House announces new season

20 April 2015

New role: Joyce DiDonato sings Charlotte
New role: Joyce DiDonato sings Charlotte

The Royal Opera House has announced its programme for its 2015/16 season, which includes eight new commissions and a number of singers and directors making their debut at the house.

Introducing the new season, the ROH's director of opera, Kasper Holten, set out a programme that balances popular classics on the main stage beside a raft of new and experimental work in venues across London: ‘We have gone for a really varied roster of new productions and popular revivals, including Carmen, Tosca and La traviata to fill the huge appetite for the classics shown by our new audiences.' Holten added, however, that the ROH would stilll be a centre for innovation: 'It’s important in these times to continue artistic risk-taking.'

The season features 11 new productions, including stagings by Katie Mitchell, Richard Jones and Graham Vick, while major European figures including David Bösch and Mariame Clément are among the four directors new to the ROH.

Two important works make their Royal Opera House debut during the season:  Chabrier’s charming comic fantasy L’étoile and Enescu’s searing, monumental  Oedipe, which continues a strand of 20th century opera established last season with works by Weill and Szymanowski.

Other ROH debutants include the Italian conductor Gianandrea Noseda, currently music director at the Turin Opera, who will conduct a new production of Il Trovatore. Meanwhile, Bryn Terfel, Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez all make role debuts during the season. Terfel takes the lead role in Richard Jones’ new production of Boris Godunov; DiDonato takes a step out of the bel canto repertore to sing the dark, poignant role of Charlotte in Massenet’s Werther; and Flórez also ventures into new territory taking the title tenor role in Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, co-directed by the choreographer Hofesh Shechter.

The exploration of the Orpheus myth at the ROH, which began with Monteverdi’s Orfeo at Camden’s Roundhouse in January 2015, will also feature a Linbury Studio Theatre production of the Little Bulb Theatre’s Orpheus, which portrays imaginary events in Django Reinhardt’s life, featuring opera, jazz and French chanson. The ROH will also be returning to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Christian Curnyn and the Orchestra of Early Opera Company will perform Luigi Rossi’s Orpheus, with Mary Bevan singing the title role in a staging by Keith Warner.

The new commissions include Morgen und Abend, by the Austrian ‘spectralist’ composer, Georg Friedrich Haas, following the life story of a man from birth to death (introduced by a 28-minute monologue); an operatic adaptation by Philip Venables of Sarah Kane’s harrowing 1999 play 4.48 Psychosis; and Mark Simpson’s Pleasure, whose central character Val is the cleaner in the toilets of a gay club.

Meanwhile, operas by Donnacha Dennehy, Mark Simpson and Iain Bell appear in London for the first time. Bell’s In Parenthesis is a new commission to mark Welsh National Opera’s 70th anniversary, and will be directed by David Pountney.

The redevelopment of the Linbury Theatre, expected to last two years, will commence in January 2016. The project will improve the acoustics and comfort of the venue, while maintaining its flexibility. While the Linbury is under rennovation, two productions will take place at the Lyric Hammersmith, while Gerald Barry’s The Importance of Being Earnestwill be performed at the Barbican Centre before moving to New York.

The 2015/16 season will also see the company’s first international tour in five years, as it presents Kasper Holten’s Don Giovanni, Phyllida Lloyd’s Macbeth, and a concert programme of Mozart in Tokyo and Osaka.

Rhinegold Charity Fund 2015/16 recipients announced

8 April 2015, London, UK

Report from Early Music Today

Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT) and Live Music Now have been named joint recipients of 2015/16’s Rhinegold Charity Fund, offering £10,000 of advertising across Rhinegold’s classical music and education publications, websites and services.

Rhinegold Charity Fund chairman Stephen Turvey said: ‘We have chosen YCAT and Live Music Now because, although significantly different in their focus, we passionately believe in the work of both charities. We also felt that their thoughtful and detailed applications clearly demonstrated a strategic and organisational maturity that would fully make use of the support offered by the fund.’

Both recipients spoke of the impact they hoped the charity fund would have on their organisations: YCAT’s chief executive Alasdair Tait said: ‘The impact and profile the fund provides will directly benefit our exceptional young artists at a crucial point in their career, whilst introducing YCAT’s unique work to a wider, international audience.’ Ian Stoutzker, founder chairman of Live Music Now, added: ‘We hope that working with Rhinegold will give us the opportunity to publicly celebrate our wonderful musicians, and encourage more people to become involved in this important and ground-breaking work.’

Entries for the 2016/17 Charity Fund will open in autumn 2015. The fund is open to all charities within the music industry. Full details will be available from

ENO announces plans to open up Coliseum foyer

8 April 2015, London, UK

Architects Robin Snell and Partners have been appointed to design a more open and inviting foyer at the London Coliseum in ENO’s efforts to increase traffic through its doors and bring in new revenue.

The £1.2m required for the first stage of the project is being funded by the Benugo group, which operates cafes and restaurants in the British Museum, V&A, Natural History Museum and elsewhere, and which already runs ENO’s American Bar Restaurant.

Building work on the Grade II* Frank Matcham designed theatre is set to begin in early 2016, pending a consultation process with Westminster City Council, English Heritage and the Theatres Trust.

Robin Snell was the project architect for Glyndebourne’s opera house as part of Michael Hopkins & Partners, and under his own name has been responsible for Garsington Opera’s pavilion at Wormsley as well as the overhaul of the Arnolfini gallery in Bristol.

Stated aims of this first phase are to open up the foyer ‘to provide uninterrupted views from the street’ and will include a wine bar and café open all day. Robin Snell said: ‘Our design strategy will be to open up the ground floor foyer to the street, bringing the inside outside; re-form the elegant Edwardian foyer rooms, which have become lost; restore the Roman mosaic floors to their original splendour; re-light the exterior and interior spaces and position contemporary objects and furniture within – all with the aim of bringing theatrical sparkle to the place.’

The launch of this initiative follows ENO’s appointment of former management consultant Cressida Pollock as interim CEO to sort out the company’s ongoing crisis, which has already seen two high-profile resignations this year (chairman Martyn Rose and executive director Henriette Götz). ENO was also recently removed from Arts Council England’s funding portfolio and put under ‘special funding arrangements’ for two years due to concerns over its ‘governance and business model’.

Meanwhile, the company continues to receive recognition for its productions, winning both the opera awards at this year’s Oliviers as well as being shortlisted in the opera and music theatre category for the 2015 Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Music Awards.

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