Leyla Gencer Voice Competition

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Latest News

First NI Opera competition winner announced

15 September 2011, Glenarm, Northern Ireland

Prizewinner Ben McAteer
Prizewinner Ben McAteer(Photo: Brian Morrison)

Baritone Ben McAteer has won this year’s inaugural NI Opera Festival of Voice competition at Glenarm, Northern Ireland.

His prize includes a concert appearance alongside Dame Kiri Te Kanawa during this year’s Belfast Festival at Queen’s.

Jury member Kathryn Harries, director of the National Opera Studio, told Opera Now: “There was no difficulty in choosing Ben as the winner, not just because he has a wonderful voice, but also because he sings with a positive and mature approach. His intention is always very clear, and he is able to translate that maturity into his sound.”

The 23-year-old McAteer, who is studying at London’s Guildhall School of Music & Drama, also recently won the 2011 Les Azuriales Ozone Young Artists’ Competition.

Ben McAteer can be heard in concert with Kiri Te Kanawa at Belfast’s Ulster Hall on 30 October 2011. Visit www.belfastfestival.com for details.


Robin Ticciati named as new Glyndebourne music director

14 September 2011, Lewes, UK

Robin Ticciati
Robin Ticciati(Photo: Chris Christodoulou)

Robin Ticciati has been named as the next music director of Glyndebourne Festival.

He will succeed Vladimir Jurowski in January 2014, becoming the seventh music director in the company’s 77-year history.

Ticciati, who directed Glyndebourne on Tour from 2007 to 2009, said that “I have a big smile on my face because Glyndebourne is a very special place to me. The company is doing amazing things in making opera more accessible. If there's one thing I want to do in my time there, it's to find more ways of bringing opera to people under 30. It changed my whole life, and I want to share it."

Glyndebourne’s general director, David Pickard, said that Ticciati would continue the company’s "long tradition of artistic excellence and innovation".

The 29-year-old British-born conductor is also the principal conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Bamberger Symphoniker. He recently conducted Le nozze di Figaro at Salzburg Festival and will make his Metropolitan Opera debut in December with Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel.


Met chief conductor cancels all autumn performances

13 September 2011, New York, US

James Levine
James Levine(Photo: Michele McDonald)

Fabio Luisi
Fabio Luisi(Photo: Koichi Miura)

The Metropolitan Opera's music director James Levine has cancelled all his autumn conducting dates following emergency surgery for a damaged vertebra. Levine was recovering from a previous operation when he fell and injured himself in Vermont.

The Met has responded by promoting Fabio Luisi to the role of Principal Conductor. He will cover most of Levine’s scheduled performances, including leading new productions of Don Giovanni and Siegfried.

“While Jim’s latest setback is hugely disappointing for all of us, he joins me in welcoming Fabio’s larger role,” said Peter Gelb, the Met’s General Manager. “I am very pleased that Fabio was able to rearrange his fall schedule, and I appreciate the understanding of those companies with whom he was scheduled to conduct.”

However, several of the companies affected are clearly angered by Luisi’s peremptory appointment. Rome's Teatro dell'Opera is considering legal action against the Met after scrambling to replace Luisi for its forthcoming production of Elektra: "This unpleasant affair damages the world of classical music and opera," said a spokesperson.

Luisi previously stepped in to replace Levine in April 2010, conducting three performances of Berg’s Lulu and four of Puccini’s Tosca. He was subsequently appointed as the company’s Principal Guest Conductor.

Levine hopes to recover in time for next year’s new production of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung (opening 27 January 2012), as well as for the full cycles of Der Ring des Nibelungen in April and May.


Winners of the Queen Sonja Competition 2011 announced in Oslo

13 September 2011, Oslo, Norway

Winner Donghwan Lee with HM Queen Sonja and Executive Director, Lars Flæten
Winner Donghwan Lee with HM Queen Sonja and Executive Director, Lars Flæten(Photo: Johannes Granseth)

The 2011 Queen Sonja International Music Competition has been won by Donghwan Lee, a 31-year-old baritone from South Korea.  He was one of six young singers who took part in the final at Oslo Opera House with the Norwegian Opera Orchestra under conductor Eivind Gullberg Jensen.

Lee was awarded a diploma and prize of €20,000 by HM Queen Sonja herself.

The Competition’s highest ranking Norwegian contestant was mezzo-soprano Ingeborg Gillebo, who came second overall and received a special scholarship worth €6,000.

Members of the jury included singers Ileana Cotrubas, Sir John Tomlinson and Siegfried Jerusalem together with senior figures from Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, The Metropolitan Opera, BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, La Monnaie and De Nederlandse Opera.

The Queen Sonja International Music Competition first took place in 1988 for pianists and has been a biennial singing competition since 2005.  Applications this year were received from over 200 singers in 43 countries worldwide.


Theofanidis' Heart of a Soldier premieres in San Francisco

12 September 2011, San Francisco, US

Thomas Hampson (Rick Rescorla)
Thomas Hampson (Rick Rescorla)(Photo: Cory Weaver)

Review by Jason Victor Serinus

Heart of a Soldier, a true story of love and heroism that culminates in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on New York's World Trade Center, had its San Francisco Opera world premiere on September 10, less than 12 hours before the tenth anniversary of the air assault on the Twin Towers.

In basing their opera on the book by James B. Stewart and the life stories of Vietnam war hero Rick Rescorla (Thomas Hampson), his army buddy and cherished friend Daniel J. Hill (William Burden), and Rick's late-in-life wife Susan Rescorla (Melody Moore), composer Christopher Theofanidis and librettist by Donna Di Novelli attempt to compact several decades of personal history into a war-torn first act.

Handicapped by a score that soldiers on rather than probing beneath the surface, and a succession of history-compacting episodes that seem at times almost cartoonish in their treatment of complex events, Heart of a Soldier comes into its own in a moving second act. Here, Rick and Susan's mutual discovery of love at first sight brings out the best in Theofanidis, eliciting music of touching simplicity and warmth. The heart opens at last, making Rick's death after heroically leading 2700 people out of the WTC all the more tragic.

Hampson does his best to cope with a part whose low tessitura finds him half-speaking at times, while Burden and Moore (the true heart of the opera) shine in roles ideally suited to their instruments and personae.

Heart of a Soldier runs at San Francisco Opera until 30 September.

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