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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.

 

London's ROH enters co-production partnership with the BBC

25 April 2011, London, UK

Antonio Pappano
Antonio Pappano(Photo: Musacchio Ianniello / EMI Classics)

The BBC and London’s Royal Opera House have entered a co-production partnership to create a range of special opera and ballet programmes for television.

The new deal includes a series on classical masterworks presented by Antonio Pappano, beginning with Pappano's Essential Tosca for BBC Two, plus the development of a new five-part series about singing to be written and presented by Antonio Pappano.

BBC music and events commissioning editor Jan Younghusband said: “This is a hugely exciting development for both organisations. We have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years now and this new creative relationship means we will not only continue to bring great performance to the viewers but co-commission new work with the Royal Opera House especially for TV.”

 

New York's Met is ready to tour Japan this summer

25 April 2011, New York, US

Peter Gelb
Peter Gelb(Photo: Dario Acosta / Metropolitan Opera)

The Metropolitan Opera in New York has confirmed that they are ready to proceed with their planned tour of Japan this summer.

Several members of the company have expressed concern about safety following the 8.9-magnitude earthquake, which struck Japan 400km (250 miles) north-east of Tokyo on 11 March.

Radiation levels at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima that was damaged during the earthquake and ensuing tsunami remain very serious, and the removal of radioactive debris from the site is not expected to conclude until July.

The Met’s General Manager, Peter Gelb, has said that they “will continue to monitor the situation, and if it should worsen, we will reevaluate.”

Gelb added that “Our visit to Japan will raise the spirits of the Japanese people, who are in need of visible shows of support and solidarity.”

 


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