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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New Opera Platform offers free access to opera

8 May 2015, Madrid, Spain

A consortium of 15 major opera houses across Europe has launched a new online initiative that allows audiences to experience opera across various digital platforms for free, both live and on demand. 

The Opera Platform, launched at Opera Europa’s May conference in Madrid this week (7-9 May), offers highlights from European productions, documentary footage and access to archival materials. A complete opera will be broadcast each month from one of the 15 partner theatres. The Platform, says Opera Europa, is designed to appeal equally to those who already love opera and to those who may be tempted to try it for the first time.

The new initiative was launched with a live relay of  a production of Verdi’s La traviata from the Teatro Real in Madrid. Future broadcasts include Szymanowski’s Krol Roger from the Royal Opera House (16 May) and Sibelius’s Kullervo from Finnish National Opera (23 May). Each opera will be available to view online, via The Opera Platform, for a period of six months after the live relay.

The Opera Platform aims to make opera more accessible. Complete performances will be subtitled in at least six languages, while content will include video, text, photographs, music, historical information and interviews.

Although Opera Europa sees its investment in online resources as an important aspect of the development of opera in the future, the organisation stated that ‘the launch of the Opera Europa Digital Platform in no way compromises our fervent belief that opera is best experienced live in the theatre.’

A partnership between Opera Europa, ARTE TV and 15 European theatres, the platform is supported by the European Council’s Creative Europe programme and the European Broadcasting Union. The Opera Platform partners in the free live relay scheme are: Vienna State Opera; La Monnaie/De Munt, Brussels; Finnish National Opera, Helsinki; Festival d’Aix-en-Provence; Opéra national de Lyon; Komische Oper Berlin; Staatstheater Stuttgart; Teatro Regio di Torino; Latvian National Opera, Riga; Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam; Den Norske Opera, Oslo; Teatr Wielki/Polish National Opera, Warsaw; Teatro Real Madrid; Royal Opera House, London; and Welsh National Opera.

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.

Plácido Domingo to be guest editor of Opera Now July/August

6 May 2015, London, UK

We are delighted to announce that the wonderful Plácido Domingo will be guest editor of the July/August issue of Opera Now. We celebrate the extraordinary life of a colossus on the world stage whose illustrious career has spanned five decades, drawing millions of fans to opera from all corners of the globe.

Exclusive cover interview
Domingo talks about the highlights of his long, influential career, remembering the people and events that have meant most to him along the way, and sharing his thoughts about opera’s future and the challenges that lie ahead for a new generation of young talent.

Operalia – The World Opera Competition
Founded by Domingo in 1993, this has become one of the most important and prestigious singing competitions in the world.  We preview this year’s event at the Royal Opera House in London this July.

Plácido Domingo and his Divas
What is it like to sing opposite Domingo?  We ask high-flying female leads including Nina Stemme, Ana María Martínez, Joyce DiDonato, Quanqun Yu, Sonya Yoncheva, Angel Blue and Julia Novikova.

At home in LA with Domingo
We visit Los Angeles Opera, which Domingo has run since 2003, building it up into the fourth largest opera company in the US.

On the road with Plácido 
Domingo is an inveterate world traveller and his motto is ‘If I rest, I rust’. He takes us on a tour of the destinations that he loves visiting and the opera houses that remain special to him.

The Art of Zarzuela
Spanish operetta was where it all began for Domingo – his parents were famous Zarzuela singers, and Domingo still speaks with passion about the art.


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.

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.

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