Zhou Long's Madame White Snake wins Pulitzer Prize
21 April 2011, New York, US
Composer, Zhou Long
An opera by the Chinese-born US composer, Zhou Long, has been awarded this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Music.
Madame White Snake was described by the Pulitzer Prize judges as “a deeply expressive opera that draws on a Chinese folk tale to blend the musical traditions of the East and the West”.
Commissioned by Opera Boston, Madame White Snake received its world premiere in Boston last February, followed by its Asian premiere in Beijing during October. Marking an important watershed in US-Chinese cultural relations, this was the first opera to be presented in China by an American company for more than 20 years.
Speaking to The Boston Globe by phone from his home in Kansas City, Missouri, Zhou said that the prize is "really something heavyweight to me. I have been working very hard to blend the East and the West for years and I feel this has been recognized."
New York City Opera suspends 2011-12 season
21 April 2011, New York, US
NCYO Chairman, Charles Wall(Photo: Tristan Cook)
The new chairman of New York City Opera, Charles Wall, has suspended the company’s forthcoming season due to financial difficulties.
A review of NYCO’s business model is now underway, following the announcement of a projected US$5 million deficit for 2010-11. Wall himself has recently contributed US$2.5 million towards this deficit.
Meanwhile, several of the company’s productions last season were received well by critics, particularly Monodramas – a triple bill of one-act operas by John Zorn, Arnold Schoenberg and Morton Feldman.
The company’s current woes follow a long series of setbacks, including a substantial loss of revenue in 2008-09 during the refurbishment of its regular venue, the David H. Koch Theater (formerly the New York State Theater). This coincided with the resignation of Gerard Mortier, the Belgian director who was appointed as general manager, but pulled out before taking office.
Union contracts are another problem, which obligate NYCO to pay their orchestra and chorus for more dates than they can actually afford to perform, whilst rental costs for use of the David H. Koch Theater are also significant. Last January, NYCO ceded four weeks of its autumn season to New York City Ballet in return for US$9 million from a capital campaign fund shared by the two companies.
Undeterred by these challenges, Charles Wall has told The Wall Street Journal that "Nothing is off the table” – including the possibility of exploring other, cheaper venues. “For years, arts organizations didn't look at the bottom line," he explained, "but you've got to bring a business outlook to these organizations, or they start dipping into the endowment and doing all sorts of things that they shouldn't be doing."
BBC Proms 2011 lineup announced
18 April 2011, London, UK
The BBC has launched this year’s Proms season, which includes three concert performances of operas by Rossini, Handel and Weber.
A highlight will be the Proms premiere of Weber’s Der Freizschütz in its rarely heard French adaptation by Berlioz, featuring the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique under Sir John Eliot Gardiner (Prom 73, 9 September).
Another relative rarity – Rossini’s William Tell – will be conducted by Antonio Pappano. Cast members for this epic performance with Rome’s Orchestra and Chorus of the Academy of Santa Cecilia include the baritone Michele Pertusi as Tell and tenor John Osborn in the challenging role of Arnold (Prom 2, 16 July).
Meanwhile, Glyndebourne Festival Opera returns to the Proms bringing a new production of Handel’s Rinaldo. Ottavio Dantone will conduct the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment with contralto Sonia Prina as Rinaldo (Prom 55, 25 July).
There's even something for serious opera lovers on the Last Night, when Susan Bullock perform the immolation scene from Wagner's Götterdämmerung (Prom 74, 10 September).
Roger Wright, Director BBC Proms and Controller BBC Radio 3, says: "Building on the tremendous success of last year's Proms, I hope that our audiences will respond again to the wealth of great music, outstanding artists and new ideas. I am keen to underline the BBC's commitment to funding, organising and broadcasting this great national institution and proud of its unequalled ability to bring the best classical music to such wide audiences."
Onassis' former yacht to host luxury opera cruises
15 April 2011, Cannes, France
Christina O – the luxury yacht that Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis once used to entertain the world’s most famous and powerful celebrities – is to be used to host an exclusive series of Mediterranean opera cruises in Cannes between 13 and 29 May.
Named after Maria Callas, with whom Onassis conducted a notorious affair for nearly 10 years, each of the evening cruise packages will feature a live theatrical performance inspired by the life of the legendary soprano – including a selection of her signature arias sung by Nelly Miricioiu.
Bringing the glamorous lifestyle of the 1950’s and 60’s jet set to life, tickets for this unique project are priced at €250 per person.
'La Divina': The Maria Callas Experience
Fri 13 / Sat 14 / Sun 15 / Fri 20 / Sat 21 / Sun 22 / Fri 27 / Sat 28 / Sun 29 May 2011
London's Royal Opera House launches 2011-12 season
14 April 2011, London, UK
Antonio Pappano(Photo: Sheila Rock / EMI)
The Royal Opera House has launched its 2011/12 season.
The progamme through the year will be built around a series of opera cycles, starting with Puccini’s three miniatures that make up Il trittico, directed by Richard Jones.
Next comes the three Mozart/Da Ponte operas Le Nozze di Figaro, Così fan tutte and Don Giovanni, followed by Berlioz’s epic The Trojans, in a new production directed by David McVicar.
The season is rounded off with complete performances of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, a revival of Keith Warner’s production.
Launching the season, ROH Music Director Antonio Pappano said: “The season culminates in 2012, Olympic year, and I had in mind the five rings on the Olympic flag, which suggested to me that we should do a series of substantial and challenging cycles through the year with the four Ring operas as the conclusion.”
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