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Community opera launches new ROH workshop in Essex

16 December 2010, Thurrock, UK

Richard Taylor's 'Ludd and Isis'
Richard Taylor's 'Ludd and Isis'(Photo: Rob Moore)

Commentary by Rosie Johnston

The Royal Opera House's monolithic new facility in Thurrock was declared open for business on 6 December with a spectacular education project culminating in a new opera, Ludd and Isis, by Richard Taylor. The cavernous interior, divided into spaces for making, hanging and painting scenery were transformed into an interactive fair drawing on the rich history of Purfleet for side shows and entertainers.

The ROH has an embedded educational presence in Thurrock; 1,000 locals participated in research, art, design and performance for Ludd and Isis. The new facility, built on the grounds of High House Farm, will be a fulcrum for future performances and installations.

Read more in the Mar/Apr 2011 issue of Opera Now.


Student opera company wins Welsh Future Entrepreneur Award

16 December 2010, Cardiff, Wales

Dragon Opera’r Ddraig’s music director, Alasdair Cowie-Fraser, and chairperson, Rhiannon Llewellyn, receiving the Award
Dragon Opera’r Ddraig’s music director, Alasdair Cowie-Fraser, and chairperson, Rhiannon Llewellyn, receiving the Award

A student opera company from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama has won this year’s Welsh Future Entrepreneur Award in Cardiff.

Beating nine other finalists to the top prize, Dragon Opera’r Ddraig was selected for their commitment to providing a professional development platform that serves young musicians and technicians across Wales.

As well as a trophy and cash prize of £1,000, the Award will entitle Dragon Opera’r Ddraig to a business support package that music director, Alasdair Cowie-Fraser, says will be “invaluable to the future of the company”.

Dragon Opera’r Ddraig’s first production was staged earlier this year and featured cast members who have since gone on to sing for Welsh National Opera and Prague State Opera.

The company is currently working on a new production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro that will receive its premiere in Cardiff on 1 February 2011.


Renée Fleming joins forces with the Lyric Opera of Chicago

16 December 2010, Chicago, US

Renée Fleming
Renée Fleming(Photo: Decca / Andrew Eccles)

Soprano Renée Fleming has been appointed as the first ever Creative Consultant of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, with a seat as Vice President on the company’s Board of Directors.

Lasting for an initial period of five years, Fleming’s new role is expected to span a wide range of artistic, educational, strategic partnership and promotional initiatives, including curating a world premiere commission for the company’s 2015-16 season.

She also will continue to appear in concerts and productions by the company, as well as developing a range of non-operatic and off-season performances at Chicago’s Civic Opera House.

Paying tribute to the Lyric Opera’s “renowned top-drawer management and highest artistic standards”, Fleming said that her interest in “joining forces with Lyric” was also driven by the fact that fiscal prudence combined with aggressive marketing and fundraising have kept the company “in excellent financial shape”.

She added: “The ship is airtight, the economic storm is subsiding, and it’s time to take those brave steps forward and tackle the challenges facing opera today.”


L’Opéra National de Lorraine appoints new music director

15 December 2010, Nancy, France

Tito Muñoz
Tito Muñoz(Photo: Dario Acosta)

Tito Muñoz has been appointed as music director of the Opéra National de Lorraine and the Orchestre symphonique et lyrique de Nancy, effective from June 2011.

The 27-year-old American conductor recently completed a three year-tenure as Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra and previously served as Assistant Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.

He made his operatic debut with the Opéra National de Lorraine in 2009, conducting Caballero’s Romantic zarzuela, Los sobrinos del Capitán Grant.

Muñoz’s first performance in his new role will be an orchestral concert on 23 June, featuring works by Grieg and Copland.


Commemorative plaque to D'Oyly Carte unveiled in London

14 December 2010, London, UK

Richard D'Oyly Carte
Richard D'Oyly Carte(Photo by Ellis & Walery)

Richard D’Oyly Carte been commemorated with an English Heritage blue plaque at his former home in Kentish Town, London, where he lived from 1860-70.

The opera impresario and hotelier, who died in 1901, was the driving force behind the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. He became the duo’s theatrical agent in 1875 and by 1880 the three men’s shared annual profits were over £60,000 (equivalent to more than £3 million today).

Carte’s Savoy Theatre opened in 1881 and was the world’s first public building to be lit entirely with electricity. This venture generated enough profit to build the Savoy Hotel next door in 1889.

Describing D’Oyly Carte as “a shrewd businessman and outstanding stage manager”, English Heritage’s Blue Plaques Historian, Dr Susan Skedd, added that he “was unrivalled in his day as a theatrical manager and will be the first opera impresario to be honoured with a blue plaque.”
The plaque was unveiled on 14 December by British film director, Mike Leigh, who made the 1999 Academy Award-winning drama Topsy-Turvey about Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado.


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