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Opera Now provides a unique and all-encompassing perspective on the international opera scene through its lively and colourful mix of news, reviews, interviews, travel articles and commentary.

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Northern Ireland Opera launches new vocal competition

31 August 2011, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Festival Crator, Mark Chambers, with pupils from Glenarm's Seaview primary school
Festival Crator, Mark Chambers, with pupils from Glenarm's Seaview primary school(Photo: NI Opera)

Northern Ireland Opera has announced the launch of a new competition for young singers, to be held at Glenarm, County Antrim, from 9 to 11 September. The winner will perform in Ulster with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa during this year’s Belfast Festival at Queen’s.

Five finalists from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have been shortlisted: mezzo-sopranos Rachel Kelly, Sarah Richmond and Lynda-Jane Workman, tenor John Porter, and baritone Ben McAteer. They will spend the weekend in workshops with experienced, professional singers, leading up to the grand final on 11th September.

Adjudicators include Kathryn Harries, Head of the UK’s National Opera Studio, and accompanist, Iain Burnside.

The competition is part of NI Opera's inaugural Festival of Voice, which will also feature recitals by Harries and the Irish-born soprano, Ailish Tynan, plus a series of schools workshops in Belfast and Derry.

“Our aim,” says Mark Chambers, Curator of the Festival, “is to identify talent early and provide active opportunities and public exposure to young singers to advance their careers.”


UK’s National Audio Show promises high fidelity experience

30 August 2011, Northants, UK

Whittlebury Hall, venue for the National Audio Show ‘11
Whittlebury Hall, venue for the National Audio Show ‘11

The National Audio Show ‘11 will be held at Whittlebury Hall, Northamptonshire, 24-26 September. Expected to attract more than 60 exhibitors, this is the show's third year.

Confirmed stand-holders include Yamaha, Audio Italia and Hifi Critic magazine, and organisers say it will be opportunity “to see and hear the pinnacle of audio achievement”.

“When we sit down and listen to our favourite recordings we want our emotions to be stimulated – and the better the sound, the greater the pleasure,” says Roy Bird of organiser, Chester Group. “But how close is it possible to get to the reproduction of a live performance? Just how good can a system be? Have we reached the limits of high quality reproduction?”

“Despite the huge growth in portable audio, this search for the highest technical quality means that hifi systems continue to make a significant contribution to the world of high end audio. The National Audio Show will be a unique opportunity to listen in comfort to systems rarely seen on the high street.”

Opening Times: 24 September, 10am to 6pm; 25 September, 10am to 5pm.
Industry day: 26 September, 10am to 4pm.


Winners of Les Azuriales Young Artists' Competition announced

23 August 2011, Cannes, France

Winner Ben McAteer with sponsor Linda Fenwick (CEO, Ozone HR)
Winner Ben McAteer with sponsor Linda Fenwick (CEO, Ozone HR)(Photo: Mark Holford)

Prizewinners Jonathan McGovern, Ben McAteer and Robyn Allegra Parton
Prizewinners Jonathan McGovern, Ben McAteer and Robyn Allegra Parton(Photo: Mark Holford)

The 2011 Les Azuriales Ozone Young Artists’ Competition has been won by baritone Ben McAteer.

He was one of nine young singers who took part in last Sunday’s final, held at the magnificent Bel Époque Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in St Jean Cap Ferrat.

McAteer received a cash prize of €2,500, sponsored by Ozone HR, and a glass sculpture created by two of the UK’s leading glass makers, Sally Fawkes and Richard Jackson.

Awards also went to baritone Jonathan McGovern (best runner-up) and soprano Robyn Allegra Parton (most promising singer under the age of 26).

Jurors for the Competition included Opera Now Editor, Ashutosh Khandekar, who said: “Ben was a clear winner. He has a beautiful tone, mature beyond his 24 years, and he sang Schumann's Belsazar with a keen sense of drama and colour, animating the theatrical twists and turns of the story.”

 “The standard of the competition was very high all round, and the jury had to deliberate long and hard about the placing of the other participants. Jonathan McGovern, winner of the Karaviotis Prize, gave a very polished, confident performance which displayed his ability to charm his audience. Robyn Parton, aged just 24, showed plenty of thoughtful and delicate poise in her aria from Strauss's Rosenkavalier.”

Prior to Sunday’s final, the singers had been in the South of France for a week, taking part in private masterclasses given by mezzo-soprano, Sally Burgess. The course focused on acting and musical interpretation, culminating in a public masterclass in Beaulieu-sur-Mer and two scenes performed during the judges’ deliberations at the end of the Competition.

A number of Les Azuriales prizewinners and finalists have gone on to participate in the Royal Opera House's Jette Parker Young Artist Programme, evidence of the Competition's growing standing in the opera world.

All winners and some of the finalists will appear in a concert in London at the beginning of 2012.


Zambello brings new energy to the Glimmerglass Festival

11 August 2011, Cooperstown, US

Alexandra Deshorties as Medea at Glimmerglass Festival 2011
Alexandra Deshorties as Medea at Glimmerglass Festival 2011(Photo: Julieta Cervantes)

Review by Heidi Waleson

Glimmerglass Opera artistic and general director, Francesca Zambello, has brought new energy to the annual festival in Cooperstown, New York.

The big artistic success of her first season, however, was not the uninspired Annie Get Your Gun with a miscast Deborah Voigt, but rather the incandescent performance of Alexandra Deshorties, who tore up the stage in the title role of Cherubini’s Medea

With her powerful, laser-like soprano and dramatic intensity, Deshorties seemed to be channelling Maria Callas, once a renowned interpreter of the role. Aided by the conductor, Daniele Rustioni, she made you forget the minimal directing by Michael Barker-Caven, the ugly, inscrutable set by Joe Vanek, and the rest of the mostly forgettable cast. 

Also exciting: the sultry-voiced mezzo Ginger Costa-Jackson in the title role of Anne Bogart’s riveting, stripped-down Carmen. And the elegantly produced double bill of John Musto’s Edward Hopper-inspired Later the Same Evening with the premiere of the Glimmerglass-commissioned A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck by Jeanine Tesori and Tony Kushner, which bodes well for the new regime’s commitment to contemporary operas.

Glimmerglass Festival 2011 runs until 23 August.


Opera Now is going monthly!

26 July 2011, London, UK

Thanks to the amazing reader response we’ve received recently, Rhinegold is going to publish Opera Now 12 times per year. So, from October 2011, you’ll receive your magazine on a monthly basis – bringing more of the music you love to your door.

The all-new monthly Opera Now will contain more great interviews with major opera stars, more news, reviews, previews and exclusive Opera Now offers than ever before.

What this will mean for my subscription?
There won’t be a break in your subscription. You’ll receive the remaining copies from your current subscription. When we renew you, your subscription will then last for 12 issues. If you pay by credit card or cheque, when you renew, move to Direct Debit and save up to £20 off the cover price!

What will this mean for my Direct Debit?
We have already written to you explain how your Direct Debit will change. If you haven’t received your letter, please call us on 01371 851892 and quote your subscriber number. We can then answer any queries you may have.

Will I receive my magazine on a different date of the month?
We aim to get your magazine to you in the last week of every other month. From now on, we will aim to get your magazine to you in the last week of every month. You will still continue to receive your magazine before it’s available in the shops.

I’ve paid for a one-year subscription, why am I only receiving 6 months of issues?
This is because the magazine is moving to a monthly publication. So, previously 6 issues equalled a year’s subscription. Now, a year’s subscription covers is made up of 12 issues.

We hope you continue to enjoy the world’s best-loved opera magazine,

Ashutosh Khandekar

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