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World Premiere - Jake Heggie's Moby-Dick at Dallas Opera

6 May 2010

(Photo: Karen Almond / The Dallas Opera)

Opera Now correspondent, Chris Shull, attended the opening night of Jake Heggie's Moby-Dick at Dallas Opera and writes:

"Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick has been called the Great American Novel. Jake Heggie’s telling of the story is certainly a great American opera. In exciting world-premiere performances by the Dallas Opera, a vibrant cast headlined by Canadian star-tenor Ben Heppner, an atmospheric set enhanced by video projections, and Heggie’s sumptuous, noble score combined on May 5 for an exhilarating evening of music and theatre at Dallas’ new Winspear Opera House."

Image: Whale boats and the ocean created by video projections in The Dallas Opera's world premiere production of Jake Heggie's Moby-Dick.

Chris Shull reviews Moby-Dick in the July/August issue of Opera Now, which also features Heidi Waleson's review of the world premiere of Amelie, at Seattle Opera. 

 

News round-up - 6 May 2010

6 May 2010

Alan Gilbert
Alan Gilbert(Photo: Mats Lungquist)

Fabio Luisi
Fabio Luisi(Photo: Barbara Luisi)

NEW YORK MET SELLS RECORD NUMBER OF TELECAST TICKETS
2.2 million sales - up 400,000 on last year

The Metropolitan Opera in New York has announced record sales of 2.2 million tickets for nine high-definition telecasts this season, an increase of 400,000 from 2008-2009. This takes the total sales for 'The Met: Live in HD’ series to 5 million tickets worldwide over five seasons. The 2010-11 Season will include 11 telecasts, beginning with Wagner's Das Rheingold 9 October.

NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC TO PEFORM FULLY STAGED OPERAS
Costumed singers and live-action animation

New York Philharmonic Music Director, Alan Gilbert, will conduct the orchestra’s first ever fully-staged opera at Avery Fisher Hall on 27 May 2010 – a production of Ligeti’s Grand Macabre featuring costumed singers and live-action animation. If the project is successful, Gilbert hopes to present the first New York production of Messiaen’s Saint François d’Assise in 2013.

FABIO LUISI NAMED NEW YORK MET PRINCIPAL GUEST CONDUCTOR
Appointment to bolster role of music director, James Levine

Italian conductor, Fabio Luisi, has been appointed as the principal guest conductor of New York’s Metropolitan Opera. This announcement follows the withdrawal of music director, James Levine, from several recent and forthcoming performances due to health problems. Luisi replaced Levine in Tosca last month, and will conduct Lulu instead of Levine during May.

BRYN TERFEL’S FAENOL FESTIVAL TO STAGE A COMEBACK IN 2010

Bryn Terfel’s annual music festival in Wales will stage a comeback this year after signing a new long-term agreement with promoter, Universal Music Classical Management & Productions (UMCMP). The festival was cancelled in 2009 due to financial difficulties but Terfel is confident that it will return in 2010 with its "best ever line-up”.

DIRECTOR TO RECEIVE JUILLIARD SCHOOL HONOURARY DOCTORATE

American opera director, Frank Corsaro, is to receive an honourary doctorate at this year’s Juilliard School Commencement Ceremony on 21 May. He is one of seven Outstanding Artists and Cultural Leaders being honoured and will attend the ceremony at Alice Tully Hall to collect his doctorate in person.

OBITUARIES

British set designer, David Myerscough-Jones, whose distinguished career spanned opera and theatre, has died of cancer aged 75. He created highly acclaimed designs for television productions of Britten’s Peter Grimes and Owen Wingrave in 1969-70 and received a Royal Television Society Award for his 1975 production of Wagner’s A Flying Dutchman.

British soprano, Mary Sansom, who sang with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company between 1956 and 1964, has died aged 74. She recorded four lead roles with the Company for Decca, including Patience and the shepherdess Phyllis in Iolanthe.

Operalia 2010 winners announced

4 May 2010

Winners Sonya Yoncheva and Stefan Pop with Plácido Domingo at La Scala
Winners Sonya Yoncheva and Stefan Pop with Plácido Domingo at La Scala(Photo: Operalia)

28-year-old Bulgarian soprano, Sonya Yoncheva, and 23-year-old tenor, Stefan Pop, have taken the top prizes in Plácido Domingo’s Operalia 2010.

The competition's final took place on Sunday at La Scala in Milan.

Thirteen young singers each performed an aria with the Filharmonica della Scala under Domingo.

Yoncheva distinguished herself with a rendition of ‘Je marche sur tous les chemins’ from Manon, while Pop chose ‘Che gelida manina’ from La bohème.

Their prize money of USD $30,000 apiece will be supplemented by casting opportunities through Domingo plus the option of joining his new Operalia Agency.
 
Second prizes of USD $20,000 were awarded to Italian soprano, Rosa Feola, Ukranian bass, Ievgen Orlov, and Italian tenor, Giordano Luca, while third prizes of USD $10,000 went to Russian soprano, Dinara Alieva, and South Korean bass, Chae Jun Lim.

This year also saw the introduction of the Operalia Birgit Nilsson Prize for German operatic repertoire, won by American bass-baritone, Ryan McKinny, singing ‘Die Frist ist um’ from Der Fliegende Holländer.

The final was attended by a live audience of 3,000 people and streamed online in 81 territories. It will be available to watch for free until 2 July via www.medici.tv.

 

Garsington Opera to move to Buckinghamshire

29 April 2010

Wormsley House
Wormsley House(Photo: David Ellis)

Plan of the new Garsington Opera auditorium at Wormsley
Plan of the new Garsington Opera auditorium at Wormsley(Image: Snell Associates)

Wormsley Estate in Buckinghamshire has been chosen as the preferred new location for Garsington Opera.

Set within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the spectacular 2,500 acre Estate with 18th century country house is home to the Getty family.

An agreement to hold the festival at Wormsley from 2011 has already been reached with Mark Getty, and includes plans to construct a new pavilion auditorium close to Wormsley House.

Applications for permission and consultations with the local community are now being launched.

Speaking enthusiastically about the “many merits” of Wormsley, Garsington Opera’s Chairman, Iain Mackinnon said “We feel very excited that a new era is opening for us.”

Mark Getty highlighted the importance of Garsington Opera “developing outreach activities that benefit schools and others in the local area with an interest in the performing arts.”

Garsington Opera was founded in 1989 by Leonard Ingrams and his wife Rosalind, the owners of Garsington Manor in Oxfordshire. Leonard died in 2005 and the search for a new location for the festival has been ongoing since 2008.

Meanwhile, the festival celebrated its 20th anniversary last year and recently announced a programme for 2010 that includes the first-ever British production of Rossini’s Armida.

 

News round-up - 28 April 2010

28 April 2010

Ben Heppner
Ben Heppner(Photo: Sebastian Hänel / Deutsche Grammophon)

OPERA AT THE BBC PROMS 2010
Season details announced

Beginning on 16 July, this year’s Proms season includes three full operas (Proms 2, 3 and 61) plus extracts from two Romantic dramas about star-crossed love (Prom 21). Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra with Plácido Domingo in the title role, Wagner’s The Mastersingers of Nuremberg and Humperdinck’s Hänsel and Gretel are the full operas, while Prom 21 brings Ben Heppner and Violetta Urmana together to sing Act 2 from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.

ONLINE RUMOURS ABOUT THE ROYAL OPERA
Speculation about personnel changes dismissed

A UK-based opera news website recently posted allegations that Grange Park Chief Executive, Wasfi Kani, is being considered as a possible replacement for Elaine Padmore, the current Director of Opera at Covent Garden. The website has subsequently confirmed that Padmore will retire later this year. Speaking to Opera Now, Kani dismissed the rumour of her possible appointment, and said “I think that the Royal Opera will appoint an artist to that role. Look back to the old days at ROH of Nicholas Payne and Bernard Haitink and how it worked then. Only during the Michael Kaiser rebuild did the current structure come about.”

WORLD PREMIERE AT DALLAS OPERA
Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick – 30 April 2010

Jake Heggie’s new opera, Moby-Dick, will receive its world premiere in Dallas this Friday. A Dallas Opera commission, the new work is based on Herman Melville’s 1851 novel by the same name. Six performances featuring Ben Heppner as the vengeful Captain Ahab will take place between 30 April and 16 May 2010.

OPERA ZUID LAUNCHES 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR
Production of Le Nozze di Figaro to feature young Dutch singers

Dutch opera company, Opera Zuid (Southern Opera), will tour a new production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro to 14 regional theatres between 22 May and 6 July 2010. Celebrating the company’s 20th anniversary, the "layered" production has been put together by a directorial team rather than a single director. It will feature young Dutch singers plus the Brabants Orchestra under Dirk Vermeulen

BRITISH COMPOSER JULIAN ANDERSON RECEIVES ENO COMMISSION
Opera based on Sophocles’ Theban plays to premiere in 2013

Following swiftly after last week’s 2010-11 Season announcement, English National Opera has released details of the company’s next commission. British composer, Julian Anderson, has been asked to write new opera based on Sophocles’ three Theban plays. The libretto is currently being adapted by Irish playwright, Frank McGuinness, and the premiere is planned for 2013. 

OBITUARIES

Scottish-born dramatic soprano, Morag Beaton, who was best known for her portrayl of Turandot with Australian Opera in 1967 and 1971, died on 1 April 2010 at her home in Sydney. She was aged 83.

Gareth Jones was the principal baritone with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and a regular performer with the Carl Rosa Opera Company. He died after a brain haemorrhage on 7 March 2010, aged 61.

 


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