News round-up – 4 October 2010
4 October 2010
Mark Elder at the Gramophone Awards(Photo: Mark Harrison)
Stephen D. Rountree(Photo: Gary Leonard)
GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2010
Opera award goes to Mark Elder and The Hallé
Mark Elder has won the Opera category in this year’s Gramophone Awards for his recording of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung with The Hallé. The 53-year-old British conductor also took home the Concerto Award. Other winners announced at last Friday’s ceremony in London included the American mezzo-soprano, Joyce DiDonato, who topped the Recital category with her disc of Rossini arias, Colbran, the Muse, and Italian conductor, Antonio Pappano, whose new Verdi Requiem recording earnt him the Choral Award.
LA OPERA LEADERSHIP TEAM ANNOUNCED
Stephen D. Rountree becomes new CEO
Plácido Domingo has announced senior management changes at LA Opera, including the promotion of Stephen D. Rountree to the position of Chief Executive Officer. Rountree will be succeeded in his former role as Chief Operating Officer by the company’s Vice President of Artistic Planning, Christopher Koelsch. This reshuffle follows the renewal of Domingo’s contract as general director of LA Opera through 2013. Domingo is currently singing the role of Pablo Neruda in the company’s world premiere production of Daniel Catán’s, Il Postino.
OBITUARY – LÁSZLÓ POLGÁR
Hungarian operatic bass dies, aged 63
László Polgár has died in Switzerland, aged 63. The Hungarian singer, who had been the principal bass with Zurich Opera since 1991, was best known for his portrayal of Duke Bluebeard in Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle – a role that he recorded for Deutsche Grammophon in 1998, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Pierre Boulez.
OPERA COMPOSER’S LEGAL APPEAL IS REJECTED
European Court of Human Rights bid will not be considered
The European Court of Human Rights has declined a bid by English composer, Keith Burstein, who claims that his rights were violated during an attempt to sue London’s Evening Standard for defamation. Burstein’s opera, Manifest Destiny, was criticised by the newspaper for portraying suicide bombers as heroic. He now faces bankruptcy after losing the earlier case, for which he says he was unfairly denied a jury trial.
CAMPAIGN TO SAVE FORMER OPERA HOUSE IN NORTHWEST ENGLAND
Cumbria’s Workington Opera House faces commercial redevelopment
A campaign has been launched to save Workington Opera House in Cumbria, northwest England. The 2,000-seat venue, which opened in 1888, was last used as a bingo hall that closed down ten years ago. The local authority has provisionally approved plans to turn the site into shops and flats, but a spokesperson for the UK Theatres Trust, which is backing the campaign, said: "There is strong local support for the revival of the opera house. Demand for theatrical facilities in Workington also currently outstrips supply.”
World Premiere - Daniel Catán's Il Postino at LA Opera
1 October 2010, Los Angeles, USA
Plácido Domingo (Pablo Neruda) and Charles Castronovo (Mario Ruoppolo)(Photo: Robert Millard)
Opera Now correspondent, Josef Woodard, reports on the world premiere of Daniel Catán's Il Postino at LA Opera:
Although composer Daniel Catán studied with Milton Babbitt and has been known to tilt towards a brutal kind of Modernism in his writing, he keeps his cool in his new opera, Il Postino, which is currently receiving its world premiere run at Los Angeles Opera.
Apart from brief rough encounters, to illustrate a Neruda poem, say, or violent political rallies in Chile and Italy, echoes of Debussy and John Adams’ suspended luminosity drift through Catán’s delicately lovely score. The music is lucidly delivered by the orchestra under Los Angeles Master Chorale director Grant Gershon’s command.
The cast made a genial ensemble, with a dynamic Charles Castronovo in the title role. As the poet Pablo Neruda (a national hero in Chile), Plácido Domingo comported himself with proper graciousness and eloquence, even if the sung poetry occasionally strained the natural beauty of the texts.
In the end, Il Postino is a pleasant enough summer's repast. It wafts over the senses without demanding much of you, bringing with it a well-turned, harmless and musically pretty diversion. You hardly know what didn’t hit you, but are inclined to leave with a calm grin of satisfaction.
The November/December 2010 issue of Opera Now will feature Josef Woodard's full review of the world premiere of Il Postino.
Domingo to leave Washington National Opera in June 2011
29 September 2010, Washington DC, USA
Plácido Domingo(Photo: Bart Everly)
Plácido Domingo has decided not to renew his contract as general director of Washington National Opera (WNO) when it expires in June 2011.
The 69-year-old Spanish tenor has been WNO’s artistic director since 1996 and general director since 2003.
Under his leadership, the company is widely recognised as having risen from the ranks of good regional companies to being a world-class organisation.
However, this growth has come at a high cost, and over recent months Domingo has been criticised in the media for spreading himself too thinly between WNO and Los Angeles Opera, where he has just renewed his contract as general director for another two years.
His decision not to renew with WNO comes at a time when the company is rumoured to be exploring a merger with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in order to ease its debt burden of US$11 million.
Domingo’s official statement to WNO’s Board of Trustees, issued by the company’s press office, said:
“For the last 14 seasons, I have had the great pleasure of leading Washington National Opera. It has been a long and fruitful collaboration, and although I will continue to help the company artistically in any way possible, the current season will be my last as General Director. I am proud of what WNO has achieved and want to thank everyone—the Board, staff and especially our audiences—for their love and support.”
Paying tribute to Domingo in what appears to have been an amicable split, WNO’s President, Kenneth R. Feinberg, stated:
“We appreciate all that Plácido Domingo has done for our great company. He will be missed, but all good things must come to an end. Plácido’s association with WNO was essential to the company’s artistic development and helped it to gain recognition nationally and internationally. While today’s news may mark the end of the formal marriage, we are looking forward to artistic collaborations in the future.”
Domingo is scheduled to sing the role of Oreste in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride as well as conducting Madama Butterfly and Don Pasquale during WNO’s 2010-11 Season.
American opera and theatre lighting designer wins UK award
28 September 2010, London, UK
Bryan Raven receiving the opera Award on behalf of Mimi Jordan Sherin(Photo: Knight of Illumination Awards)
American lighting designer, Mimi Jordan Sherin, has won the opera category in this year’s Knight of Illumination Awards, which celebrate the best lighting designs in the UK theatre, touring and TV sectors.
Selected for her work on the recent Royal Opera production of Prokofiev’s The Gambler, Sherin was one of ten designers who received Awards.
Peter Mumford (who created designs for the ENO production of Henze’s Elegy for Young Lovers at the Young Vic) and Olaf Winter (for Wagner’s Tristan at the Royal Opera House) were also shortlisted in the opera category.
The theatre Awards jury included Opera Now Editor, Ashutosh Khandekar, and was chaired by the award-winning British lighting designer, Paule Constable (pictured left).
Each category winner received a replica of a sword that would have been carried by medieval knights in Europe.
The Knight of Illumination Awards is organized by the Society of Television Lighting and Design (STLD), the Association of Lighting Designers (ALD) and Clay Paky to provide public recognition for outstanding achievements in lighting design by UK-based lighting designers.
News round-up – 27 September 2010
27 September 2010
San Francisco Opera at AT&T Park(Photo: Pat Johnston)
DOMINGO TO RECEIVE TOP LATIN GRAMMY
Tenor named Person of the Year
Plácido Domingo, has been named as this year’s Latin Grammy Awards Person of the Year. Chosen for his "professional and philanthropic achievements", Domingo will be honoured during a ceremony in Las Vegas on 10 November. An official statement by the President of the Awards described the 69-year-old Spanish tenor as an "extraordinary musician, philanthropist and, above all, a great human being whose immense talent and generosity has had a profound global impact".
NEW YORK MET PLANS BAROQUE PASTICHE
The Enchanted Island to premiere in 2011
New York’s Metropolitan Opera is planning a new Baroque ‘pasticcio’ production for 2011. Made up of existing arias by different composers but set to a fresh libretto by director, Jeremy Sams, The Enchanted Island is being handled by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch from the London-based theatre company, Improbable. A star-studded cast led by Plácido Domingo and Joyce DiDonato will be conducted by renowned Baroque specialist, William Christie. “It’s meant to be a lighter Baroque affair, one that does not take itself too seriously,” commented the Met's general manager, Peter Gelb.
SAN FRANCISCO OPERA SCREENINGS PAY OFF
Stadium simulcasts generate a modest surplus
San Francisco Opera has reported a surplus of US$80,000 from ticket sales for opera simulcasts last year. An official statement indicated that sales and data collection have flourished since the screenings moved to AT&T Park, the city’s 41,500-seat stadium, where the average attendance for each screening is 25,000. Some commentators have contrasted San Francisco’s success with free public simulcasts by other US companies such as The Met in New York, which so far have proven difficult to monetize.
DALLAS OPERA LAUNCHES FIRST SIMULCAST
Don Giovanni to be presented in partnership with WFAA TV on 22 October
The Dallas Opera has announced a new opera simulcast initiative that will launch on 22 October with the opening night of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The free public screening is to be presented in partnership with Texas TV station, WFAA, at Dallas’s AT&T Performing Arts Center. A limited number of seats can be reserved in advance online and the remaining places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
MARIACHI OPERA TO RECEIVE ITS WORLD PREMIERE IN HOUSTON
Cruzar la Cara de la Luna – 13 November 2010
A new commission that combines Mexican street band music with opera will receive its world premiere by Houston Grand Opera on 13 November 2010. Telling the story of three generations of a family divided by countries and cultures, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (To Cross the Face of the Moon) has been written by mariachi band leader and composer, José “Pepe” Martinez, with a libretto by the acclaimed Broadway director and author, Leonard Foglia.
JUILLIARD SCHOOL AND THE MET ANNOUNCE NEW PARTNERSHIP
First co-production to open in February 2011
The Metropolitan Opera and The Juilliard School have announced details of a new co-producing partnership that will be launched in February 2011 with three performances of Smetana’s The Bartered Bride. Featuring current members and graduates of both the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and the Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts at Juilliard, the performances will be conducted by James Levine at Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater.
FINNISH NATIONAL OPERA CELEBRATES 100TH ANNIVERSARY IN 2011
Free tickets for 7,000 children to be given away
Finnish National Opera and the Finnish Cultural Foundation are giving away 7,000 tickets to school children as part of the opera company’s 100th anniversary celebrations in 2011. The centenary season includes the world premiere of the ‘opera adventure’ Robin Hood by Finnish composer, Jukka Linkola, and a new production of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt directed by Kasper Holten.
OPERA COLORADO PRODUCTION INSPIRES CZECH CULTURAL FESTIVAL
‘Czech Point Denver’ – 23 October 2010 to 16 March 2011
Opera Colorado will present Dvořák’s Rusalka in Denver for the first time on 12 February 2011. Inspired by this event, more than 20 performances, exhibitions, films and multi-media experiences celebrating Czech culture will take place across the city between October and March, promoted under the festival banner ‘Czech Point Denver’.
DES MOINES METRO OPERA APPOINTS NEW ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Michael Egel to succeed founding director, Dr Robert L. Larsen
The Director of Artistic Operations for Des Moines Metro Opera, Michael Egel, is to become the company’s second Artistic Director in its 38-year history. Egel will succeed company founder, Dr Robert L. Larson, who is to retain the title of Artistic Director Emeritus for life. A principal conductor for the company will be appointed in 2011.
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