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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.

Read about new productions, festivals, performance previews and world premieres, as well as reviews of all the latest opera CDs, DVDs, books, websites and films.

With our mixture of celebrity interviews, leadership profiles and behind-the-scenes features, you'll appreciate the diversity, passion and dynamism of the people who make opera happen. It is the global platform for opera, reaching out to opera lovers worldwide, but also into the heart of the industry from the grassroots to the glamorous.

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London’s Royal Opera House appoints new Director of Opera

21 March 2011, London, UK

Kaspar Holten
Kaspar Holten(Photo: Miklos Szabo)

London’s Royal Opera House has announced the appointment of Kasper Holten as the company’s new Director of Opera. He will replace Elaine Padmore when she leaves at the end of the 2010/11 Season.

A native of Copenhagen, the 37-year-old Holten has been Artistic Director of the Royal Danish Opera since 2000, where he successfully led the move into Copenhagen’s new opera house in 2005.

As a director he has staged more than 60 productions of opera, drama, operetta and musical theatre in countries as far-flung as Iceland, Austria and the USA, including a highly acclaimed new production of Wagner’s Ring cycle in Copenhagen. He has also recently directed Juan, a modern cinematic version of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, which will go on general release in Denmark from 7 April, followed by cinemas in the UK and other countries.

Announcing the appointment, Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House said: “I am thrilled that Kasper Holten is to join the senior management team. He has done some fantastic and innovative work as a stage director and at the same time he has confirmed the Royal Danish Opera’s status as a major player in the international opera world.  He joins The Royal Opera after ten years of superb artistic achievement, but also at a time of new economic challenges and further expansion in the digital arena. I look forward to working with him.”

Holten described the appointment as “an incredible opportunity” and emphasised his commitment “to further developing ROH as a leading opera house of the world with exciting productions, broad outreach and a standard of artistic quality second to none.”


Opera journalist and author John Steane dies, aged 83

21 March 2011, London, UK

John Steane (1928-2011)
John Steane (1928-2011)

Opera journalist and author John Steane has died, aged 83.

A regular contributor to Opera Now for more than two decades, Steane was highly respected for his understanding of the human voice coupled with an extensive knowledge of repertoire, recordings and singers.

His journalistic style was erudite yet relaxed, including frequent flashes of humour.

“John had a very rare gift – to be able to bring the qualities of a human voice to life in words,” says Ashutosh Khandekar, Editor of Opera Now. “Singers felt at ease with him because he understood so completely the connection between the singing voice and the soul of the artist. His writings about great performances were not simply pieces of criticism; they were acts of revelation, making you feel as if you had actually been there with him.”

Steane’s numerous books included The Grand Tradition: Seventy Years of Singing on Record, 1900-1970 (1974), Voices, Singers and Critics (1992), Elisabeth Schwarzkopf: A Career on Record (with Alan Sanders: 1995), the three-volume Singers of the Century (1996-2000) and, most recently, his privately-published memoir based on a series of articles written for Opera Now.

John Steane's final article for Opera Now – about the phenomenon of record collecting and the discovery of a cache of recordings of Francesco Tamagno, the tenor who created the role of Verdi’s Otello – will appear in the our forthcoming Summer issue.

  • John Barry Steane, opera journalist and writer, born 28 April 1928; died 17 March 2011.


Verdi’s Otello at Lithuanian National Opera

18 March 2011, Vilnius, Lithuania

Director Eimuntas Nekrosius
Director Eimuntas Nekrosius

Eimuntas Nekrosius is one of Lithuania’s leading opera directors and an influential figure in the European theatre scene.

Having directed Shakespeare’s Othello several times, he turns his hand to Verdi’s opera, which opens at the Lithuanian National Opera in Vilnius tonight.

”The process of directing Verdi’s Otello has been very difficult. At first I thought it would be easy: of course, the plot is the same, and it’s beautiful to see how Verdi brought out some of the same accents as Shakespeare. But the Shakespearean play didn’t help me at all, since the two pieces are so different."

"Some say it should be easy to direct the opera after doing the drama, but I’m starting to think it’s vice versa. You‘ve walked down one road already, and none of the signposts apply any more. Maybe it would have been better to start off with a clean sheet of paper!"

“I hadn’t listened to the opera all the way through until I was asked to direct it. My first impression: this is the least interesting of all operas that Verdi wrote. Maybe it was because I knew his other operas better. After a while, however, I realised this is his most sublime creative achievement.”

Verdi’s Otello runs at the Lithuanian National Opera on 18, 19 and 20 March followed by performances on 21 April and 5 May. A full review by Igor Toronyi-Lalic will appear in our forthcoming Summer issue.


Riccardo Muti wins US$1 million Birgit Nilsson Prize

18 March 2011, Stockholm, Sweden

Birgit Nilsson as Brünnhilde at the Bayreuth Festival
Birgit Nilsson as Brünnhilde at the Bayreuth Festival(Photo: Siegfried Lauterwasser / Bayreuther Festspiele)

Riccardo Muti has won this year’s Birgit Nilsson Prize worth US$1 million – claimed by the organisers to be the biggest prize in classical music.

The 69-year-old Italian conductor and former music director of La Scala was selected by the jury “for his extraordinary contributions in opera and concert, as well as his enormous influence in the music world, both on and off the stage.”

Established by the legendary Swedish soprano Birgit Nilsson before her death in 2005, the Prize is awarded every two or three years to an outstanding conductor or singer who is active in the field of opera.

A statement issued by Muti said: "I was deeply touched by the jury's accolade, all the more so given my profound admiration for this unique and extraordinary artist, both as an incomparable musician and as a great interpreter."

Muti will receive the Prize at a ceremony in Stockholm on 13 October.


EMI/Virgin Classics renews exclusive contract with Joyce DiDonato

17 March 2011

Joyce DiDonato
Joyce DiDonato(Photo: Sheila Rock)

EMI/Virgin Classics has announced the renewal of their exclusive recording contract with Joyce DiDonato.

The American mezzo-soprano became an EMI/Virgin Classics exclusive artist in 2007 and has since recorded several critically acclaimed discs for the label including Rossini: Colbran, the Muse, which was selected for the New Yorker’s “pick of the best CDs of 2009”, plus her appearance on DVD as Rosina in the Royal Opera House production of Rossini’s Barbiere di Siviglia.

Commenting on the announcement, Virgin Classics' President, Alain Lanceron, said: “I’m very happy with Joyce’s confidence in EMI/Virgin Classics and that the wonderful adventure we embarked upon some years ago will continue with many other remarkable projects. Since her first recordings with Virgin Classics, Joyce’s fame has grown internationally and we are very proud that she is now one of the most sought after opera singers.”

DiDonato’s next album has been scheduled for release in October 2012.

Watch out for our forthcoming Summer issue of Opera Now, which will include a full-length interview feature with Joyce DiDonato. UK readers click here to order a copy from your nearest newsagent today!


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