News round-up - 2 June 2010
2 June 2010
The Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires(Photo: Associated Press)
ARGENTINA’S TEATRO COLON REOPENS AFTER FOUR YEARS
US$100 million facelift marks bicentenary of independence
The Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires reopened last week following four years of renovations costing US$100 million. An audience of 2,700 people attended the gala performance, which marked the start of Argentina’s independence bicentennial celebrations. The current season, which runs until December, will feature six operas including new productions by the company of La bohème, Katya Kabanova, Manon and Falstaff.
CHICAGO’S LYRIC OPERA ENDS SEASON IN THE BLACK
Reserve funds used to balance company’s US$53 million operating budget
The Lyric Opera of Chicago has ended its current season in the black after achieving the third best individual ticket sales record in the company’s history and surpassing its 2009-10 fundraising goal of US$16.6 million. Reserve funds of US$2.7 million were also used to balance the company’s operating budget. A hiring freeze and cap on administrative salaries will continue while next season has been cut back to 68 performances, down from 77 this year.
SEVERANCE PAID TO NEW YORK CITY OPERA MANAGER-IN-WAITING
Gerard Mortier received US$335,000 for resigning before taking office
It has emerged that New York City Opera paid Gerard Mortier a salary of US$65,000 plus severance of US$335,000 after he resigned from the post of general manager in November 2008, ten months before he was due to take office. Mortier’s resignation was prompted by the company’s financial difficulties, which he said would prevent him from fulfilling his ambitions. New York City Opera recently announced a deficit of US$19.9 million for 2008-09.
KOREA OPERA FESTIVAL LAUNCHED IN SEOUL
Five troupes, five productions – 16 May to 7 July 2010
The inaugural Korea Opera Festival is currently underway at Seoul Arts Center. Organised by the National Opera of Korea and the Opera Society of Korea, the festival features five productions, each presented by a different troupe: Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (National Opera of Korea); Rigoletto (Gloria Opera Company, 7-10 June); Aida (Sol’Opera, 16-19 June); La traviata (Seoul Opera Ensemble, 25-28 June); and Carmen (Beseto Opera, 3-7 July).
GENERAL MUSIC DIRECTOR QUITS THE BERLIN KOMISCHE OPER
St Clair’s early departure due to ‘artistic differences’
The general music director of Berlin’s Komische Oper, Carl St Clair, announced last month that he will leave the company at the end of the current season. His early departure – two years ahead of his contract expiry date – is due to ‘artistic differences’ with company director, Andreas Homoki. St Clair claims to have been upset by a recent Regietheater production of Fidelio which “used and abused Beethoven’s greatness in a way that was disturbing to me.”
OBITUARY – STEFANOS LAZIRIDIS
The influential Greek-born set designer, Stefanos Laziridis, was best known for his concept-led productions with English National Opera during the 1980s, one of the company’s most successful eras. He also worked extensively at Covent Garden and was invited to create designs for numerous European companies, including Bayreuth, Bregenz, Munich and Bologna. He died of cancer on 8 May 2010, aged 67.
World Premiere - Before Night Falls at Fort Worth Opera
31 May 2010, Texas, USA
Wes Mason as Reinaldo Arenas in the world premiere of 'Before Night Falls'(Photo: Fort Worth Opera)
Opera Now correspondent, Chris Shull, attended the opening night of Jorge Martín's Before Night Falls at the 2010 Fort Worth Opera Festival and writes:
"The new opera Before Night Falls by Cuban-American composer Jorge Martín, based on the impassioned memoir of gay Cuban dissident poet Reinaldo Arenas, was enthusiastically received at its world premiere on Saturday 29 May at Fort Worth Opera in Texas.
"But an evocative score setting traditional Cuban dances alongside accessible contemporary sounds - and a deeply-felt performance by a committed young cast - could not overcome a libretto that traced only surface emotions."
Chris Shull's full review of Before Night Falls will be published in the September/October issue of Opera Now.
BBC Radio 3 presents five essays about opera
31 May 2010, London, UK
Michael Chance(Photo: Gerald Place)
The BBC’s major new series, A Passion For Opera, continues on BBC Radio 3 this week with five 15-minute essays written and narrated by eminent figures from the world of opera, broadcast daily at 23:00 BST.
Opera Now readers should already be very familiar with three names on the roster: Opera Now Editor-in-Chief, Ashutosh Khandekar, and Contributing Editors, Tom Sutcliffe and Robert Thicknesse.
The series also features English countertenor, Michael Chance, and Matt Peacock, Chief Executive of the London-based community arts initiative, Streetwise Opera.
Each speaker will explore a different aspect of their experience of opera, beginning tonight with Tom Sutcliffe speaking about the paradoxically intimate quality of this spectacular multimedia art form.
Tomorrow’s broadcast by Matt Peacock’s looks at the potentially life-changing social impact of opera, while on Wednesday Robert Thicknesse will reveal why he has become disillusioned with some aspects of the opera world.
Ashutosh Khandekar’s personal account of his early experiences of opera on Thursday and Michael Chance’s ‘confessions of a long distance opera singer’ on Friday bring the week to a close.
Each of the essays will be available via the BBC’s ‘Listen Again’ facility for 7 days after broadcast.
- Opera on the BBC
- Essay 1 – Tom Sutcliffe
- Essay 2 – Matt Peacock
- Essay 3 – Robert Thicknesse
- Essay 4 – Ashutosh Khandekar
- Essay 5 – Michael Chance
London's Opera Holland Park 2010
27 May 2010, London, UK
Commentary by Opera Holland Park General Manager, Michael Volpe
“Opera is a buzz word at the moment, and the media in the UK have jumped on the bandwagon with enthusiasm: the BBC have a special focus on opera through the summer, (though anyone who saw rival channel ITV’s attempt to get into the classical music groove could have easily thought it had all been dreamt up during a particularly unfocused session down the pub). Meanwhile, there are productions opening in droves in the first week of June across the UK as the summer season gets under way.
“Here at Opera Holland Park, in one of Central London’s finest stretches of green, unspoilt nature, we find ourselves pitching headlong into another season with trepidation, unbounded enthusiasm and, as is ever more frequently the case, nerves of steel.
“Our final two shows would be a challenge to the biggest companies in the world: Francesca da Rimini certainly fulfils the stereotype of the giovane scuola opera by having a cast of thousands – and all of them with a line to sing. Not that our two season openers (Pelléas et Mélisande and Carmen) can be described as a walk in the park either.
“Meanwhile, we don’t often do revivals but Oliver Fuchs' production of Fidelio was a massive success in 2003, and the time seems absolutely right to unleash it on the London audience again.
“All in all, we’ve got a particularly brilliant season in prospect, with a huge variety of work and a strong thread joining the first and final productions.
“And just in case you’re worried about what all this might do to your holiday spending money, we are tossing £10 seats tickets around like confetti as well as offering free seats to people who wouldn’t otherwise have the means to come to an opera. Speaking of which, our new INSPIRE Project, bringing awareness to new audiences, is in overdrive at present; we do all of this and still find time to plan the 2012 Season.
“I’m looking forward to so many aspects of the 2010 Season which, after so long in this job, can only be a good sign. I still love being in our space as well – OHP’s theatre one of the most beautiful structures in the capital in my humble opinion.”
- Opera Holland Park
- Podcast - Listen to Opera Now Contributing Editor, Robert Thicknesse, chatting to Mike Volpe about Francesca da Rimini
- London opera festival all set to ‘INSPIRE’
The July/August issue of Opera Now will include a preview of Francesca da Rimini, featuring an interview with conductor, Philip Thomas.
Royal Danish Opera appoints new artistic director
24 May 2010
Keith Warner(Photo: Caspar Balslev)
British director Keith Warner has been appointed as the new artistic director of the Royal Danish Opera, succeeding Kasper Holton, who has held the post since 1999.
Warner’s tenure will begin in August 2011, but he will start work immediately as a consultant to advise the company on repertoire decisions for future seasons.
Described as an “artistic beacon” by Erik Jacobson, Director of the Royal Danish Theatre, Warner was unanimously selected by the hiring committee from a list of 47 candidates. He has previously directed Don Giovanni (2006) and Wozzeck (2008) for the Royal Danish Opera.
Opera Now Contributing Editor, Tom Sutcliffe, who has worked with Warner on several past productions believes that “this appointment reflects genuine confidence in Keith’s knowledge of the whole repertoire and his supreme professionalism. But also there is no question that many of his productions are simply first rate – that he is a modern director who has interesting things to say about the operas he's staging, but also who wants those operas to come alive in their own terms not to be changed into something they never expected to be and often cannot be.”
The Chairman of the Board of Royal Danish Opera, Lars Pallesen, certainly hopes that Warner’s appointment will help “to establish the company in the international elite”, but, says Sutcliffe, “Copenhagen is not going to change radically” under Warner’s leadership: “It is constrained by the fact that it is a national company setting the tone in a small nation of around 5 million people. The casting and the company are being subsidised by the Danish taxpayer to be identifiably Danish.”
On the other hand, Sutcliffe concedes that “having a Brit as artistic director (for the second time – Elaine Padmore was also there from 1993-9) is a gesture towards the international in standards and aspirations that does not undermine the company’s Danishness to any great extent.”
Pointing to the fact that Warner is one of the only British directors to have worked successfully in Bayreuth whilst also being “a believer in the popularisation of opera”, Sutcliffe says that his approach is characterized by some “very special qualities”: he is a “generous collaborator” with “considerable judgment and competence about casting”, plus “the sort of man who does work for almost no money when he believes in the cause. And above all he is fun to be with.”
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