Welsh National Opera to make savings in "internal efficiencies"
21 December 2010, Cardiff, Wales
A spokesperson for Welsh National Opera (WNO) has said that the company will continue to make savings next year, despite receiving a funding increase of £250,000 from the Arts Council of Wales (ACW).
The increase follows an earlier cut of £500,000 from the company’s national funding allocation, announced in October by Arts Council England.
WNO managing director, Peter Bellingham, emphasised that savings would be made in "internal efficiencies,” adding that the company’s focus would remain "entirely" on providing an "interesting, varied programme" for the "widest range of audience."
He also said that the savings were necessary to maintain WNO’s reputation for “world-class quality."
Earlier this year, the company came under fire for holding a lavish first night reception in the same week that ACW funding to 32 organisations was stopped.
WNO Chief Executive and Artistic Director, John Fisher, subsequently announced his decision to step down in 2011, stating that the 250-strong company faces “very significant challenges” ahead.
Robert Lepage to direct Met commission by Osvaldo Golijov
21 December 2010, New York, US
Osvaldo Golijov(Photo: Sara Evans © 2002)
The Metropolitan Opera is reported to have commissioned a stage adaptation of Stephen Hawking’s bestselling science book, A Brief History of Time.
The Argentine-born writer, Alberto Manguel, revealed in a Radio France interview last week that he is working on a libretto for the new opera, which is to be composed by Osvaldo Golijov and directed by Robert Lepage.
A spokesperson for the company subsequently told Opera Now: “The Met has commissioned an opera from Osvaldo Golijov, but we are not ready to confirm any other details of the project at this time.”
Hawking’s A Brief History of Time (subtitled "From the Big Bang to Black Holes") was published in 1988 and has since sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.
Osvaldo Golijov studied with Oliver Knussen as a fellow at Tanglewood, where his first opera Ainadamar received its world premiere in 2003.
Second Movement receives Cultural Olympiad 2012 commission
20 December 2010, London, UK
Emil Zátopek(Photo: Deutsche Fotothek)
Emily Howard(Photo: Kieran Morris/De Novo Arts)
The London-based independent opera company, Second Movement, has been commissioned to create a new chamber opera for London’s 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
The commission will be funded through New Music 20 x 12, a UK-wide programme to support twenty world premieres at the Olympic Games, each lasting twelve minutes.
With music by 31-year-old British composer, Emily Howard, Second Movement’s production promises a highly compressed exploration of the life and times of Emil Zátopek (1922-2000), the legendary Czech Olympian, long distance runner, statesman, communist and dissenter.
“His unmatched sporting achievements and a biography entwined with the history of the Czech nation in the twentieth century make Zátopek a wonderful subject for an opera,” says Howard. “He represents an indomitable sporting spirit and strong parallels with today’s Usain Bolt give his story a contemporary relevance.”
Zátopek first came to public prominence during the 1948 London Olympics, where he won the 10k and was later quoted as saying: “After all those dark days of war, the bombing, the killing, the starvation, the revival of the Olympics was as if the sun had come out.”
Howard’s piece will be scored for baritone (Emil), mezzo-soprano (his wife Dana, born on the same day as Zátopek and herself an Olympic javelin gold medallist), mixed chamber ensemble and adult and youth chorus.
“The chorus will play an important role in recreating the thrilled Olympic crowds of 1948, 1952 and 1956,” explains Howard, “but also the Prague Spring of 1968, where Zátopek came out in public protest against the Soviet crackdown.”
Community opera launches new ROH workshop in Essex
16 December 2010, Thurrock, UK
Richard Taylor's 'Ludd and Isis'(Photo: Rob Moore)
Commentary by Rosie Johnston
The Royal Opera House's monolithic new facility in Thurrock was declared open for business on 6 December with a spectacular education project culminating in a new opera, Ludd and Isis, by Richard Taylor. The cavernous interior, divided into spaces for making, hanging and painting scenery were transformed into an interactive fair drawing on the rich history of Purfleet for side shows and entertainers.
The ROH has an embedded educational presence in Thurrock; 1,000 locals participated in research, art, design and performance for Ludd and Isis. The new facility, built on the grounds of High House Farm, will be a fulcrum for future performances and installations.
Read more in the Mar/Apr 2011 issue of Opera Now.
Student opera company wins Welsh Future Entrepreneur Award
16 December 2010, Cardiff, Wales
Dragon Opera’r Ddraig’s music director, Alasdair Cowie-Fraser, and chairperson, Rhiannon Llewellyn, receiving the Award
A student opera company from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama has won this year’s Welsh Future Entrepreneur Award in Cardiff.
Beating nine other finalists to the top prize, Dragon Opera’r Ddraig was selected for their commitment to providing a professional development platform that serves young musicians and technicians across Wales.
As well as a trophy and cash prize of £1,000, the Award will entitle Dragon Opera’r Ddraig to a business support package that music director, Alasdair Cowie-Fraser, says will be “invaluable to the future of the company”.
Dragon Opera’r Ddraig’s first production was staged earlier this year and featured cast members who have since gone on to sing for Welsh National Opera and Prague State Opera.
The company is currently working on a new production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro that will receive its premiere in Cardiff on 1 February 2011.
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