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London's Opera Holland Park announces 2011 season

2 May 2011, London, UK

Opera Holland Park
Opera Holland Park

London’s Opera Holland Park (OHP) has announced its 2011 season, which runs from 7 June to 13 August.

The line-up of six new productions includes two company premieres plus a mini festival of three operas from the late Romantic Italian repertoire.

Opening the season, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale will be conducted by Richard Bonynge, husband of the late Dame Joan Sutherland. He returns to OHP following his success in 2009 at the helm of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux.

Another staple of the Italian operatic repertoire, Verdi’s Rigoletto, stars Robert Poulton, who has previously played Giorgio Germont in La traviata for OHP as well as the title role in Falstaff at Garsington Opera.

Offering a counterpoint to these major works from the mid C19th, the mini festival will put a spotlight on operas from the fin-de-siècle period and early decades of the C20th: Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz (1891), Catalani’s La Wally (1892), and Puccini’s La rondine (1917). Look out for the Alpine avalanche that brings La Wally to a close, killing the opera’s heroine in an act of theatrical hyperbole that even outdoes Tosca.

Mozart’s supreme comedy, Le nozze di Figaro, will also be presented in an innovative new production by Liam Steel, joint artistic director of the physical theatre company Stan Won’t Dance. Leading this cast as the Countess Almaviva is Elizabeth Llewellyn, who recently enjoyed a major success as Mimì at English National Opera.

 

Boston Lyric Opera presents Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

29 April 2011, Boston, US

Nadine Sierra (Tytania) and Andrew Shore (Bottom)
Nadine Sierra (Tytania) and Andrew Shore (Bottom)(Photo: Erik Jacobs / BLO)

Boston Lyric Opera's new production of Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream opens tonight in a company premiere directed by Tazewell Thompson.

David Angus, who made his BLO debut with Idomeneo in April 2010, leads his first production as music director of the company.

Susanna Phillips, a regular at New York’s Met, will perform the role of Helena. She is joined by John Gaston, debuting as Oberon, rising sensation Nadine Sierra as Tytania, and English National Opera favourite, Andrew Shore, as Bottom.

Some of the production’s set designs include ideas contributed by elementary students from RAW Art Works in Massachusetts, who were inspired by hearing Britten’s music.

BLO's main performing space, the Shubert Theatre, will feature a lobby bar and a special social media/Twitter lounge for students during student night performances.

Opera Now's forthcoming Summer issue includes 'A Letter from America' by BLO Artistic Director, Esther Nelson.

 

Director David Pountney to head Welsh National Opera

29 April 2011, Cardiff, Wales

Director, David Pountney
Director, David Pountney(Photo: Karl Forster)

Welsh National Opera has announced the appointment of David Pountney as the company’s new Chief Executive and Artistic Director, effective from September 2011.

Pountney has enjoyed a long association with WNO and knows the company well. Over the years, he has directed many acclaimed WNO productions, including a series of Janačék’s operas for which he was awarded the Janačék Medal in 1978.  His next production with the company will be Berg’s Lulu in Spring 2013.

Responding to news of his appointment, Pountney said: “I am really thrilled to have the chance to lead a company that has long been very close and important to me – a national and international company that has enormous potential to be a powerful creative force on the European opera stage. I look forward to being able to deploy the international experience I have gained over the last years to lead this flagship company into a new era of artistic adventure.”

The 63-year-old British-born opera director is also currently the Intendant of Bregenz Festival in Austria, a position that he will continue to hold until his contract ends in 2013.

Pountney’s Bregenz Festival productions have included three operas for the vast outdoor stage on the lake (The Flying Dutchman, Nabucco and Fidelio), as well as other productions by Martinů, Rimsky-Korsakov and Mieczyslaw Weinberg for the indoor theatre.

 

Mexican-born composer Daniel Catán dies, aged 62

28 April 2011, Pasadena, US

Composer, Daniel Catán
Composer, Daniel Catán(Photo: Elizabeth Beristain)

The Mexican-born composer Daniel Catán has died of a heart attack, aged 62.

Known for bringing Spanish-language operas into the international repertory, Catán cultivated a lyrical, neo-Romantic style that was at odds with the ultra-Modernism of his former teacher, Milton Babbitt.

His works for stage culminated in last year’s hugely successful world premiere of Il Postino at LA Opera, starring Plácido Domingo as the poet, Pablo Neruda.

Born in Mexico City to a family of Sephardic Jewish and Russian descent, Catán studied Philosophy at the University of Sussex, UK, before enrolling in Princeton as a PhD student in composition.

His breakthrough came in 1996 with Florencia en El Amazonas (Florence in the Amazon), an adaptation of Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. Premiered at Houston Grand Opera, this was the first Spanish-language opera to be commissioned by a major American opera house. 

Salsipuedes, a Tale of Love, War, and Anchovies followed in 2004, featuring a libretto by the Mexican Nobel prizewinner, Octavio Paz. But Catán's biggest hit was undoubtedly Il Postino – a “delicately lovely score” (Opera Now) that played to sold-out houses at its Los Angeles premiere in 2010.

Catán is reported to have been working on a new opera at the time of his death.

Daniel Catán’s Il Postino will receive four performances at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris between 20 and 30 June 2011.

 

Lyric Opera of Chicago names new general director

26 April 2011, Chicago, US

Anthony Freud
Anthony Freud(Photo: Steve Henry)

The Lyric Opera of Chicago has appointed Anthony Freud as the company’s new general director, effective from 1 October 2011.

The 57-year-old Brit is currently the general director of Houston Grand Opera.

He succeeds William Mason, under whose 13-year leadership the Lyric Opera has become one of the most artistically respected companies in the world.

Speaking to the Chicago Tribune last week, Freud said: “I’m both honoured and thrilled [by this appointment]. One of the things that excites me most is the opportunity to get to know both the company and the city. I emphatically don’t believe in a generic opera company serving a generic city. Ultimately each company has to identify how it can do the best possible job for its audience and its city, taking its own characteristics into account.”

With 17 years of experience as a general director, Freud is a widely respected figure on the international opera scene. He led Welsh National Opera from 1994 to 2005, and in his present role has helped to strengthen Houston’s reputation for commissioning and producing new works, as well as establishing the company’s education and community initiative, HGOco.

 


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