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Pavarotti auction to raise funds for young tenors

1 December 2011, Paris, France

Luciano Pavarotti
Luciano Pavarotti

Works of art and other personal items that belonged to Luciano Pavarotti are being put up for auction in Paris and New York. More than 250 items have been listed, including a 1928 Marc Chagall watercolour and the Panama hat that he wore at his last wedding. 

Proceeds from the sales, which are expected to raise up to £1.75m, will be kept by the Luciano Pavarotti Foundation to support talented young tenors. The sale is an initiative of Pavarotti’s second wife and former secretary, Nicoletta Mantovani, who also heads the Foundation.

Pavarotti was buried in his hometown of Modena in 2007, following a career that spanned more than four decades and made him the biggest selling solo classical music artist of all time.

Janáček's theatre threatened with closure

26 November 2011, Brno, Czech Republic

Brno's National Theatre
Brno's National Theatre(Photo: Anibal Trejo)

The National Theatre in Brno, Czech Republic, may be forced to shut down because of a 20 per cent cut in funding from the city’s governing council.

Under the new budget, the opera ensemble, chorus and orchestra have been abolished, with the proviso that some musicians will be offered new jobs in a few months’ time.

Janáček lived in Brno from the age of 11 until his death in 1928, and the world premiere of Jenůfa took place at the National Theatre (then the Czech Provisional Theatre) in January 1904.

Employees have launched an online petition to save the theatre: http://zachrante-operu.cz/english

Les Talens Lyriques present rare Dauvergne opera in Versailles

25 November 2011, Versailles, France

'Hercule Mourant' in concert at the Opéra Royal de Versailles
'Hercule Mourant' in concert at the Opéra Royal de Versailles

Review by Alexandra Coghlan

The latest addition to Christophe Rousset’s cabinet of baroque curiosities, Antoine Dauvergne’s Hercule Mourant demonstrates the considerable influence (if not quite the genius) of Dauvergne’s teacher, Rameau.

A concert performance at the Opéra Royal in Versailles – the first since the work’s 18th century debut – was led by Veronique Gens, delivering a characteristically assured performance as Hercules’ neglected wife Dejanire. Andrew Foster-Williams rose to the challenge of singing his own death, though his dramatic conviction never quite caught up to his technical skill, and he had a considerable rival in Edwin Crossley-Mercer’s assertive Philoctete.

Unusual orchestral colourings and textural effects – an extended passage of string tremolos for Hercules’ ascension, muted bassoons paired with horns and strings for the sombre cloud that settles of the drama of Act V – give the work an interest it lacks elsewhere. One for the record collection perhaps, but not the opera stage.

 

London's Royal Opera House launches first digital game

23 November 2011, London, UK

Screenshot: 'The Show Must Go On'
Screenshot: 'The Show Must Go On'

The Royal Opera House has launched a new digital game that allows opera fans to try their hand at being a stage manager.

Created for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch users, The Show Must Go On is a collaboration with game developer, Hide&Seek. Available as an app, the game includes five different scenarios that challenge the player to retrieve sheet music, assemble props, build the set, light the show and dress the cast – all in a short time before the curtain goes up.

EMI has supplied recordings for the game’s soundtrack, which features artists such as Simon Rattle and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf as well as sound effects recorded at the Royal Opera House.

ROH chief executive, Tony Hall, described the move as ‘a very logical step for us as we increasingly develop our content available across multiple digital platforms.’

 

ROH to premiere BBC 'Question Time' opera on 22 November

19 November 2011, London, UK

British politician Nick Griffin
British politician Nick Griffin

By James Waygood

As part of the Royal Opera House’s Opera ‘Exposure’ series, Errollyn Wallen’s new opera Yes receives its world premiere in London next week.

The work is a ‘docu-opera’ focusing on reactions and responses sparked by the infamous occasion in October 2009 when the BBC invited controversial British Nationalist Party leader, Nick Griffin, to appear as a panelist on its televised political forum, Question Time.

The libretto, written by the playwright and critic Bonnie Greer, consists of her personal opinions together with public reaction, exploring the storm of strong views leading up to and following the broadcast. Greer, who was a co-panelist on the programme, described appearing next to Griffin as ‘probably the weirdest and most creepy experience of my life’. She will take part in the opera as herself alongside a cast of nine singers and an instrumental ensemble of seven.

At Tête-á-Tête Opera Festival held at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith last summer, composer Errollyn Wallen held a seminar discussing her writing process, which included excerpts from Yes. Combining her more lyrical style with contemporary writing, the music is a fusion that is original but accessible and catchy. From what I heard at the preview, Yes is set to be a bold and intriguing approach to issues of multiculturalism, racism and freedom of speech in today’s society.

Performances in the Linbury Studio Theatre from 22 to 26 October

 


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