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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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Garsington Opera's new venue opens in Buckinghamshire

7 June 2011, Buckinghamshire, UK

Garsington Opera's new Wormsley pavilion
Garsington Opera's new Wormsley pavilion(Photo: Dennis Gilbert)

Andrew Green attended the opening night of this year's Garsington Opera festival and reports on the success of the company's relocation to Buckinghamshire.

First there's the long drive into the heart of the magical Wormsley estate, enclosed by rolling hills on either side. Then the walk alongside a picture-postcard lake, past a meandering line of marquees (looking for all the world like a siege encampment) housing scores of Garsingtonians upending the first champagne of the season.

The pavilion, when it first comes into sight, is a delight of Japanese simplicity and draws you up the hill - talk about seduction! But what matters above all else are the very first sounds to hit 600 pairs of ears: the result made this pair more than happy.

All in all, the re-located Garsington Opera has fallen on its feet.


Anna Netrebko signs new recording agreement with DG

6 June 2011, Hamburg, Germany

Anna Netrebko
Anna Netrebko(Photo: Felix Broede / DG)

Deutsche Grammophon has signed a new exclusive recording agreement with the Russian soprano and operatic superstar, Anna Netrebko.

Already a seasoned DG artist with numerous critically acclaimed recordings to her name, Netrebko’s audio and video discography is set to expand significantly under the new agreement.

Her past projects with DG include Verdi’s Violetta and Mozart’s Susanna at the Salzburg Festival; French, Italian, and Czech arias with Gianandrea Noseda; Italian arias with Claudio Abbado; and songs from her Russian homeland with Valery Gergiev and Daniel Barenboim.

She also features as Norina on the label’s latest DVD and Blu-ray release of Don Pasquale from the Metropolitan Opera – a role for which she was credited by the New York Observer as “not just a Met star, but the Met star”.

Commenting on the new recording agreement, Deutsche Grammophon’s President, Michael Lang, said: “Our long-term partnership with Anna has created the most inspired, beautiful, and artistic recordings. We are thrilled to continue this tradition with such a superb artist.”

Anna herself added: “I am happy to continue my collaboration at Deutsche Grammophon — it’s one of the most rewarding experiences in my career. We have many exciting new ideas that I look forward to begin recording.”

Anna Netrebko will feature the cover artist for our October issue. 


Thought-provoking new season announced by ENO

26 May 2011, London, UK

'The Passenger' at Bregenz Festival
'The Passenger' at Bregenz Festival(Photo: Karl Forster)

Risky certainly. Some might even call it foolhardy in the current economic climate. But there’s no doubt that ENO’s 2011/12 season plans represent considerable bravado on the part of its artistic and management team.

With 11 new productions in the planning, the programme includes a swathe of 20th-century works that deal with powerful, political themes.

These include John Adams’ Death of Klinghoffer, based events surrounding the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985, a flashpoint in the Israel-Palestine conflict.  Weinberg’s The Passenger, meanwhile, deals with persecution and exile inflicted upon the Jews in the Second World War, based on personal stories of a victim and a perpetrator.

There are two operas by major contemporary German composers in the mix: Detlev Glanert’s Caligula explores the psychopathic nature of political dictatorship. Wolfgang Rihm’s Jakob Lenz is an exposé of society’s attitudes to mental illness.

The season sees a staging of Damon Albarn’s new opera Doctor Dee. The Blur and Gorillaz frontman ponders British ritual and symbolism as he revisits the life of the influential Elizabethan, John Dee. The London premiere is part of the London 2012 Festival celebrating the Olympics.

“We’re being risky, yes,” says ENO artistic director John Berry, “but by showcasing top British talent in our casting and dealing with thought-provoking subjects that generate challenging, intelligent debate, I hope we’ll be offering our audiences something that they can’t get anywhere else in the opera world today.”

Follow the link below for full details of ENO’s new season, which also includes new productions of The Marriage of Figaro, Castor and Pollux (ENO’s first-ever Rameau staging), Eugene Onegin, The Tales of Hoffmann, The Flying Dutchman and Billy Budd.


News round-up – 26 May 2011 

26 May 2011

Francesca Zambello
Francesca Zambello(Credit: Claire McAdams)

Bryn Terfel as Wotan in 'Die Walküre'
Bryn Terfel as Wotan in 'Die Walküre'(Photo: Ken Howard / Metropolitan Opera)

New post will "develop WNO’s artistic profile”

Francesca Zambello has been appointed as an Artistic Advisor by Washington National Opera. The new post “is designed to further develop WNO’s artistic profile”, say company officials. She will begin her tenure in July, following the departure of Plácido Domingo, whose contract as general director expires in June.

Die Walküre starts more than 30 minutes late

A major selling point of Robert Lepage’s new Ring cycle at The Met is its complex, 45-tonne set. On 14 May, however, the complexities got the better of technical staff when a malfunction caused live screenings of Die Walküre to be delayed by 35 minutes. Transmissions in over 1,500 cinemas worldwide were affected.

Two productions this year to be streamed online

The Guardian website has entered a partnership with Glyndebourne Festival to stream two of this year’s productions for free. The last night of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg will be streamed live on 26 June then available for seven days, followed later in the season by Britten's The Turn of the Screw. David Pickard, general director of Glyndebourne, said: "This will take us a step closer to realising our vision to create a digital Glyndebourne that is open to opera lovers at any time, anywhere in the world."

Summer festival gets ready for Buckinghamshire launch

The launch of Garsington Opera festival on 2 June will also mark the company’s historic move to its new venue on the Wormsley Estate in Buckinghamshire. Home to the Getty family, this 2,500 acres of rolling countryside now also provides a spectacular setting for the company’s specially designed Opera Pavilion. The season’s three operas include Vivaldi’s rarely performed La verità in cimento.

The Royal Institute of British Architects – International Awards 2011

Guangzhou Opera House has recently received a RIBA International Award from the Royal Institute of British Architects. Built on the banks of China’s Pearl River, the 1,800-seat venue was designed by Zaha Hadid and looks like two giant boulders taken from the river bed. It opened last May with a production of Puccini’s Turandot.

US soprano Laura Claycomb named debut artist of the year

Laura Claycomb has been named “Maria Callas Debut Artist of the Year” by The Dallas Opera. The American coloratura soprano was selected by subscribers for her portrayal of Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto.


New York City Opera to leave Lincoln Center

24 May 2011, New York, US

George Steel
George Steel(Photo: René Perez)

A review of New York City Opera’s business model that began last month has concluded with the company’s decision to move out of its Lincoln Center home.

NYCO has been a resident company at the Lincoln Center since 1966, but high rental costs for use of the David H. Koch Theater combined with substantially reduced revenues over recent seasons have made the move unavoidable.

The company’s general manager and artistic director, George Steel, told The New York Times: “We love Lincoln Center. It’s a wonderful place. But the reality is that the fixed costs of living here are simply too high.” He added, “I think we’re leaving for good.”

NYCO will present five operas and three concerts next season, though the venue(s) for these productions have not yet been announced. “My plan is to establish a home base for the company at a single venue and branch out,” said Steel.


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