News round-up - 30 August 2010
30 August 2010
Anna Nicole Smith(Photo: Mark J. Terrill/AP)
Philanthropist, Agnes Varis
BBC4 TO BROADCAST OPERA ABOUT FORMER PLAYBOY MODEL
Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Anna Nicole – The Opera
A new opera based on the life of former U.S. glamour model, Anna Nicole Smith, is to be screened on BBC4 TV in early 2011. Anna Nicole – The Opera with music by Olivier award-winning composer, Mark-Anthony Turnage, will receive its world premiere at London's Royal Opera House on 17 February 2011. Directed by Richard Jones, the production promises to be “provocative in its themes, exciting in its bravura style and thrilling with its sheer contemporary nerve”. Smith, who first came to public attention after marrying an oil billionaire nearly four times her age, was later dubbed "the queen of trailer trash" by U.S. tabloids. She died in 2007 after ingesting a fatal overdose of prescription drugs.
NEW YORK MET EXTENDS ‘$25 WEEKEND TICKETS’ SCHEME
Gift of US$2.5m will subsidize 13,600 seats
Agnes Varis, a managing director of the Met’s Board of Directors, has donated US$2.5 million to support the company’s subsidised weekend tickets scheme. Her gift towards the 2010-11 season will ensure that 13,600 weekend seats - normally priced at $137 to $322 - can be made available for just $25 each. An estimated 93 performances will be covered by the scheme, including every Friday evening, Saturday matinee, and Saturday evening performance (except for the new production premieres of La Traviata on 31 December and Die Walküre on 22 April).
ANDREA BOCELLI TO MAKE MET DEBUT
Solo recital scheduled for 13 February 2011
Popular Italian tenor, Andrea Bocelli, is to make his solo recital debut at the Metropolitan Opera on 13 February 2011. His performance will feature a selection of arias, lieder and art songs by Beethoven, Wagner, Liszt, Richard Strauss, Fauré, and Tosti. Bocelli, who has been completely blind since the age of twelve, is a multi-award-winning performer and was recently honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to live theatre.
SAN FRANCISCO OPERA APPOINTS NEW DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
Jennifer Lynch promoted to key role
San Francisco Opera General Director, David Gockley, has announced the appointment of Jennifer Lynch as Development Director, effective 1 September 2010. Lynch has been with the company for nine years and currently serves as Senior Director, Comprehensive Campaign. Her new role includes overall responsibility for San Francisco Opera’s annual and special fundraising campaigns, currently worth approximately US$30–35 million per year.
THE GILDED STAGE: A SOCIAL HISTORY OF OPERA
Six lectures by Daniel Snowman at London’s Royal Academy of Music
A series of six monthly opera lectures by leading social and cultural historian, David Snowman, will be launched at London’s Royal Academy of Music on 28 September 2010. ‘The Gilded Stage: A Social History of Opera’ will explore the world of opera houses, impresarios, monarchs, money makers, artists and the changing nature of audiences over the past five centuries. Online booking now open.
AMERICAN TENOR TO MAKE VIENNA STATE OPERA DEBUT
Stephen Costello to play Rodolfo in La bohème
Following his acclaimed appearances in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette at this year’s Salzburg Festival, the American tenor, Stephen Costello, will make his debut at the Vienna State Opera on 6 and 9 September 2010. Costello will play Rodolfo in a revival of the Franco Zeffirelli production of La bohème under Franz Welser-Möst.
INJURED TENOR SUES ROYAL DANISH OPERA OVER SET COLLAPSE
61-year-old David Rendall is seeking damages worth £250,000
61-year-old British tenor, David Rendell, has launched a £250,000 law suit against the Royal Danish Theatre. Rendell was injured when a stage set for Aida collapsed on him at the theatre during a performance in 2005. He has subsequently been forced to give up performing after undergoing a left knee replacement, hip replacement and surgery to his shoulder.
Ireland to get a new national opera company in 2011
27 August 2010, Dublin, Ireland
Ireland’s Opera Theatre Company (OTC) began its final tour in Dublin this week with the Irish premiere of Grigory Frid’s The Diary of Anne Frank.
The company, which was launched in 1986 as the national touring company of Ireland, will close at the end of the year when funding from the Arts Council of Ireland ceases.
In its place, a new national opera company – Irish National Opera (INO) – will be launched in 2011, subsuming the existing functions of OTC as well as those of Opera Ireland.
A board for the new company is already in place, but recruitment for a general director only began last week. A business manager will be sought in January and INO’s first production is expected to take place in autumn 2011.
In the meantime, Opera Ireland will present Tosca at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre during November – ostensibly the last production by the company in its current form, although funding may be still sought from the Arts Council of Ireland for an additional spring season in 2011.
South Korean baritone wins Concours Ernst Hafliger
27 August 2010, Bern, Switzerland
Eung Kwang Lee
29-year-old baritone, Eun-Kwang Lee, has won the Concours Ernst Hafliger 2010 in Bern, Switzerland.
Originally from South Korea, Lee is a graduate of Berlin's Hanns Eisler Music Academy and currently a member of the Theater Basel Opera Ensemble.
He was one of ten singers who were selected to participate in this year’s public final at the Stadttheater Bern, accompanied by the Bern Symphony Orchestra.
In second place after Lee was 31-year-old German soprano, Mandy Fredrich, followed by 27-year-old U.S. baritone, Todd Boyce, who came third.
The competition’s panel of adjudicators was led by Swiss soprano, Edith Mathis.
A scholarship for the best Swiss entrant to the competition went to mezzo-soprano Eve-Maud Hubeaux, who also walked away with one of the special prizes – an engagement for a role at the Stadttheater Bern.
Launched in 2006, the Concours is Switzerland’s first international singing competition. It is dedicated to the memory of eminent Swiss tenor, Ernst Hafliger, who served as the jury president until his death in 2007.
News round-up - 26 August 2010
26 August 2010
MELBOURNE TO STAGE CITY'S FIRST RING CYCLE
Opera Australia announces 2013 production
Opera Australia has announced plans to present Melbourne’s first ever staging of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. Created in collaboration with Houston Grand Opera and the Victorian Government, this new production will be led by Australian director, Neil Armfield, and Australian conductor, Richard Mills. Three complete cycles at Melbourne’s State Theatre are being planned to mark the bicentenary of Wagner’s birth in 2013. The same production will then be staged in Houston over four seasons, beginning in 2014.
NEW BOLSHOI MUSIC DIRECTOR APPOINTED
Vassily Sinaisky to replace Leonid Dessiatnikov
Vassily Sinaisky has been named as the new music director at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre. The 63-year-old Russian conductor will replace avant-garde composer Leonid Dessiatnikov, who has held the position since September 2009. Sinaisky will also hold the post of chief conductor, while Dessiatnikov is expected to continue composing a new ballet for the theatre based on Balzac’s novel Lost Illusions.
NEW YORK MET SETS NEW TICKET SALES RECORD
Tickets worth US$2.6m sold on box office opening day
The Metropolitan Opera in New York has set a new record for its box office opening day, selling more than US$2.6m (£1.6m) worth of single tickets for the new season. More than 24,000 tickets were sold, beating last year’s total of US$2.5m. This promising start follows the announcement in June that US$144m had been wiped off the net value of the company’s assets over the past year due to investment portfolio losses coupled with rising expenses. The season will open on 27 September with a new production of Wagner's Das Rheingold, directed by Robert Lepage and starring Bryn Terfel and Stephanie Blythe.
BARENBOIM TO CONDUCT AIDA AT THE TEATRO COLÓN
Conductor turns 60 with concert performances in Buenos Aires
Argentine-born pianist and conductor, Daniel Barenboim, will celebrate his 60th birthday at the Teatro Colón on 31 August, conducting a series of programmes including Aida and Verdi’s Requiem. The spectacular 2,478-seat theatre in Buenos Aires was recently re-opened following extensive refurbishments that cost US$100m and took four years to complete.
BAYREUTH FESTIVAL DIE WALKÜRE NOW ONLINE
Streamed version available until 5 September 2010
Tankred Dorst’s production of Die Walküre from this year’s Bayreuth Festival is now available to view online via the Siemens Festival Night 2010 website. Opera lovers from 40 countries across the world can log in any time until 5 September to watch a streamed version of the production, which was transmitted live from the Festspielhaus on 21 August.
MINNESOTA OPERA FINISHES SEASON IN THE BLACK
Company budget balanced for the eighth year in a row
Minnesota Opera has announced that the company finished its 2010 fiscal year on 30 June with a balanced budget. A modest surplus on the company’s operational budget of US$9m was also achieved through sales amounting to 90.5% capacity across the season. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Opera New Works Initiative, launched in 2008-09 to support productions of new operas, has already attracted US$5m towards its goal of US$7m.
NEW JERSEY STATE OPERA’S US$230K BILL FOR PORGY AND BESS
Vendors and contract workers still not paid months after production
The New Jersey State Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess in May this year was hailed as a success by critics but has left the company with bills amounting to US$230,000. A variety of vendors and contract workers are still waiting for payment, including the 52 members of the orchestra and conductor Jason Tramm. Their union has now filed a suit demanding fees totalling US$56,000 plus pension benefits
LYRIC OPERA OF CHICAGO CHORUS MASTER QUITS
Conductor Donald Nally leaving company to run his own choir
Lyric Opera of Chicago Chorus Master, Donald Nally, has decided to leave his post in 2011 to concentrate on running his own choir in Philadelphia. He will also continue as music director of the Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati.
Welsh National Opera General Director to step down
25 August 2010, Cardiff, Wales
John Fisher, the Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Welsh National Opera (WNO), has announced that he will step down from his post next summer. The 60-year-old Scotsman has been at the helm of WNO since 2006, following ten years as the Director of Music Administration at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.
In a statement to the media, Fisher said: “It has been a privilege to lead WNO over the last five years, and I am very proud of what we have been able to achieve. It is a wonderful company that is a great asset for Wales and the world of opera. In the next few years WNO will face very significant challenges, but I am confident that when I leave next summer the company will be in the hands of a very strong and accomplished team.”
WNO Chairman, Geraint Talfan Davies, praised Fisher’s “enormous contribution to the development of the company through raising its musical and vocal standards to the highest level, and attracting to WNO the very best talent.” He added: “We are hugely grateful to him for all that he has achieved.”
Fisher’s decision comes in the wake of funding cuts for Welsh arts organisations by the Arts Council of Wales (ACW).
Although ACW has signalled a continuing commitment to supporting WNO, the company was recently criticised after holding a lavish first night reception for Die Meistersinger in the same week that funding to 32 organisations was stopped.
Last year, WNO received £4.5 million from ACW’s total budget of £24 million, but further cuts are predicted when the Welsh assembly meets in December to determine ACW's budget for 2011.
Reflecting this uncertainty, WNO Chairman Davies urged the company “to do everything we can in the challenging climate ahead to sustain the standards that [John] has set.”
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