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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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Latest News

AU$152 million investment plan for Sydney Opera House

10 June 2010, Sydney, Australia

Sydney Opera House / Luminous Festival
Sydney Opera House / Luminous Festival(Photo: Peter Morris)

Forecourt / Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Forecourt / Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra(Photo: Sydney Opera House)

Australia’s New South Wales Government has committed funds of AU$152 million (£87.5 million) to create underground truck access and buy new backstage machinery for Sydney Opera House.

The move follows the publication of an independent engineering report last week that warned of "multiple fatalities" in the event of a malfunction backstage and suggested that the theatre's flying system was "non-compliant with current international codes and practice".

Opera House CEO, Richard Evans, also revealed that “there have been 200 reported [health and safety] incidents” in the forecourt of the theatre over recent months, “many of which have necessitated ambulances coming.”
 
The new investment package is the largest ever committed to building works in the venue’s 37-year history. New South Wales Government has promised that the project will be “completely transformative”.

Construction is expected to start in 2011 and be completed by 2013. The House will remain open throughout.

Speaking to Opera Now, Opera Australia’s Chief Executive, Adrian Collette, confirmed that “there has been no major work done at Sydney Opera House since it opened in 1973. The equipment is well maintained, but needs to be replaced over time.”

Welcoming the “current plan”, Collette says that “it will revolutionise Opera Australia's operations in terms of delivering sets to the site and stage, and should reduce health and safety risks. It will make also entry to the House, and appreciation of its extraordinary surroundings, even more pleasurable for our patrons.”

Australian media coverage has meanwhile pointed out that the scheme stops short of a full rebuild of the Opera Theatre according to architect Jørn Utzon's design, the cost of which has been estimated at AU$ 800 million (£461 million).

“We hope,” says Collette, “that the current investment will be the first step towards securing the entire Opera Theatre renewal project.”

 

Opera Conference 2010: New Realities | New Strategies

9 June 2010, Los Angeles, US



Daniel Catán
Daniel Catán(Photo: Lourdes Almeida)

Opera Conference 2010: New Realities | New Strategies begins today in Los Angeles.

Presented by the US national service organization for opera, OPERA America, and hosted by Los Angeles Opera, the conference will explore new strategies for safeguarding the sustainability of the industry in the wake of the global economic recession.

Keynote speakers include composer Daniel Catán, whose opera Il Postino will be premiered at LA Opera in September, plus Plácido Domingo, conductor James Conlon, stage director, Achiem Freyer, Houston Grand Opera general director, Anthony Freud, and OPERA America president and CEO, Marc Scorca.

Opera Conference 2010: New Realities | New Strategies has been programmed as part of the city's ongoing LA Ring Festival, which runs until 30 June.

 

Buenos Aires’s Teatro Colón gets "a perfect facelift"

8 June 2010, Buenos Aires, Argentina



Report by Karyl Charna Lynn

Festivities were in full swing for the 24 May reopening of the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires’s legendary opera house, which was the centerpiece of Argentina’s 5-day non-stop party for the Bicentennial of the Revolution.

A glamorous opening night saw the city’s elite flocking to the theatre, but with millions of people celebrating in the streets around the opera house, the mayor of Buenos Aires wisely also offered entertainment for the masses.

An expertly prepared and executed a documentary sound-and-light show on the history of the Colón, including operatic excepts and projected images of famous artists (e.g. Pavarotti) who performed there, kept the crowd entertained.

The gala programme inside, which included Act III of Swan Lake and Act II of La bohème was then projected on giant screens outside the opera house and broadcast on national television for all Argentines to experience.

Like a perfect facelift, the Colón has been meticulously restored to its original beauty, reclaiming its place among the world’s greatest opera houses. The red, ivory, and gold six-tiered auditorium, soaring in sparkling splendour, has retained its impeccable acoustics, and the porteños (as the locals are known), along with the entire opera world breathed a sigh of relief. After years of financial stalling and political wrangling, one of the world’s great theatres is back on its feet.

As one porteño confided, “we feared the Colón would be lost forever”, but today, she stands in all her finery, reinvigorated and beautifully groomed to face audiences for generations to come.  

Karyl Charna Lynn’s complete report follows in the September/October issue of Opera Now.

 

The 30th Richard Tauber Prize for Singers 2010

7 June 2010, London, UK

Jung Soo Yun
Jung Soo Yun

The final of the Richard Tauber Prize for Singers 2010 took place at London’s Wigmore Hall on 4 June.

Ten singers aged 24 to 30 performed before an eminent jury that included opera singers Dame Anne Evans, Lillian Watson and Nigel Douglas.

The First Prize of £5,000 plus a public recital in London went to the 30-year-old South Korean tenor, Jung Soo Yun, who sang ‘Am Feierabend’ from Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin and ‘Che gelida manina’ from La bohème. He is currently studying at Cardiff’s International Academy of Voice.

Two sopranos also received awards worth £2,500 each: 28-year-old Denise Beck from Denmark (Second Prize) and 29-year-old Leslie Davis from Canada (Adèle Leigh Memorial Prize).

The Richard Tauber Prize for Singers was created in 1950 by the Anglo-Austrian Music Society and has subsequently been awarded 30 times. This year’s preliminary rounds in London and Vienna attracted more than 150 competitors.

 

News round-up - 5 June 2010

5 June 2010

Claudio Abbado
Claudio Abbado(Photo: Lucerne Festival)

ABBADO’S RETURN TO LA SCALA POSTPONED
Fatigue prompts maestro to cancel engagements

Claudio Abbado has cancelled two ‘comeback’ concerts at La Scala in Milan due to fatigue. The 76-year-old Italian maestro has not performed at the theatre since 1986, when his 22-year tenure as artistic director ended. He was due to conduct two performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (‘Resurrection’) on 4 and 6 June 2010, but withdrew after being admitted to hospital in Berlin. He has cancelled all performances for several weeks to recover.

ROYAL OPERA HOUSE TO BEGIN 3D SCREENINGS
Carmen release schedule for autumn 2010

The Royal Opera House is to become the world’s first opera house to film and distribute full-length opera productions using 3D technology. The productions will be screened in specially equipped cinemas worldwide through a partnership with 3D cinema technology provider, RealD. The first screenings of Bizet’s Carmen are scheduled to take place in autumn 2010.

ENO LAUNCHES NEW LEARNING AND PARTICIPATION INITIATIVES
Ian McMillan becomes company’s first poet-in-residence

English National Opera has launched a new series of learning and participation initiatives that includes the appointment of Ian McMillan as the company’s first ever poet-in-residence. Aimed at “widening audiences for opera and developing engagement”, the programme will also see the introduction of crèche facilities for parents of young children who wish to attend the opera, and Opera Preview nights for anyone wanting to sample the upcoming Season.

SCOTTISH OPERA GOES BURLESQUE
Opera singers to perform at the world’s biggest burlesque club

Scottish Opera has announced that their 2010-11 Season will feature a collaboration with the world’s biggest burlesque club – Club Noir in Glasgow. The initiative will be unveiled on 14 August, when singers and musicians from Scottish Opera perform arias as part of a six-hour show at Edinburgh’s HMV Picture House, expected to draw audiences of 2,000 people aged 20 to 40. Further stagings in Glasgow are also planned.

2010 RICHARD TAUBER PRIZE FOR SINGERS
Public final at London’s Wigmore Hall

Ten young international singers aged 24-30 took part in the public final of this year’s Richard Tauber Prize for Singers, held last night at London’s Wigmore Hall. Five prizes were awarded by the distinguished panel of adjudicators that included Dame Anne Evants and the winners will be announced next week.

CARDIFF’S INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY OF VOICE TO CLOSE
“Funding challenges” force Cardiff University to pull the plug

The International Academy of Voice at Cardiff University is to close after operating for just three years. A spokesperson said that the academy had operated “at a significant loss” since being launched in 2007 and due to “funding challenges” the University could no longer subsidise its deficit. More than 50 singers had so far received training at the Academy under its director, the Welsh tenor Dennis O’Neill, including one-to-one classes with renowned opera directors, producers and performers.

CHILDREN’S OPERA TO RECEIVE PREMIERE IN SAINT LOUIS
Peter Ash and Donald Sturrock’s The Golden Ticket – premiere on 13 June 2010

The Golden Ticket – a new children’s opera by composer Peter Ash and librettist Donald Sturrock – will receive its world premiere in Saint Louis later this month. Based on Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the opera is a co-production by American Lyric Theater and Wexford Festival Opera in the UK. Featuring skilful vocal writing and brilliant orchestration, The Golden Ticket promises a “magical land of fantastic experiences” that introduces families to contemporary opera.

MADISON OPERA CELEBRATES 50TH ANNIVERSARY
2010-11 Season to include Kurt Weill company premiere

Founded in 1961, Wisconsin’s Madison Opera is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a forthcoming Season that includes the company premiere of Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera in a new production by Dorothy Danner. A revival of Madison’s La traviata and the Glimmerglass production of The Marriage of Figaro are also scheduled.

SARASOTA OPERA RECEIVES HERITAGE PRESERVATION AWARD
Restoration of Sarasota opera house described as “outstanding”

Sarasota Opera has received The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Award for its “outstanding renovation” of the city’s historic opera house. Built in 1926, the house was described by Sarasota County Commissioner as one of the “cornerstones of the cultural life of the community.” The restoration work took place in 2008 and cost US$ 20 million. 

OBITUARIES

The German lyric soprano, Anneliese Rothenberger, enjoyed a distinguished career that included performances at La Scala, Glyndebourne, Aix-en-Provence Festival and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. She was a member the permanent ensemble for Hamburg Staatsoper from 1946-59 and a regular performer at New York’s Metropolitan Opera from 1960-65. Equally at home in performances and recordings of operetta, light soprano roles by Mozart and Strauss and contemporary opera, Rothenberger became an accomplished painter and much-loved German television personality in her later years. She died on 24 May 2010 near her home in Switzerland, aged 83.

Sue Graham-Dixon, who for nearly three decades acted as the UK media relations representative for a whole host of European opera and music festivals including Pesaro, Drottningholm and the Maggio Musicale in Florence, died of complications linked to a melanoma on 26 March 2010, aged 78.

Thomas H. Connell served as the stage manager at New York’s Metropolitan Opera for 30 years. He had been planning to retire this year, but suffered a sudden illness and died at his home in Manhattan on 18 April, aged 67.


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