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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.

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News round-up – 30 November 2010

30 November 2010

Angela Gheorghiu as Adriana Lecouvreur
Angela Gheorghiu as Adriana Lecouvreur(Photo: Catherine Ashmore)

ROH audience boos last-minute announcement

Angela Gheorghiu recently prompted boos from the audience of the Royal Opera House by cancelling an appearance as the heroine in Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur. A last-minute announcement explaining Gheorghiu’s absence met with angry hissing and jeering.  She was replaced by the Spanish soprano, Angeles Blancas Gulin, who was already scheduled to play Adriana later in the production run. Four more performances remain between 30 November and 10 December.

State announces new cultural tourism initiative

Australia’s New South Wales government has announced the launch of Opera on Sydney Harbour. From March 2012, this major new cultural tourism initiative will feature annual seasons of fully staged outdoor productions, presented by Opera Australia on a floating offshore stage. “The grandeur and majestic beauty of Sydney Harbour is the perfect backdrop for this project,” said government Premier, Kristina Keneally.

Free adaptation to receive its UK premiere during the Barbican’s bite11

Peter Brook’s contemporary adaptation of Mozart’s Magic Flute is to receive its UK premiere at the Barbican during next year’s bite11 season. Conceived by a creative team comprising Brook, the composer Franck Krawczyk and author Marie-Hélène Estienne, five performances of this co-production with C.I.C.T / Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord will be presented at the Barbican Theatre between 23 and 27 March 2011.

Ten Days on the Island presents David Young’s Minotaur – The Island

Tasmania’s biannual international arts festival, Ten Days on the Island, is planning a contemporary reconstruction of Monteverdi’s L’Arianna that explores the mythological and visual symbolism of the Minotaur, Ariadne, and the labyrinthine structure of the maze. Co-produced with Chamber Made Opera from Melbourne, composer David Young's Minotaur – The Island will receive its world premiere at the festival on 26 March 2011.


2011 Salzburg Festival programme announced

26 November 2010

President, Helga Rabl-Stadler
President, Helga Rabl-Stadler(Photo: Kerstin Joensson)

Artistic Director, Markus Hinterhäuser
Artistic Director, Markus Hinterhäuser(Photo: Peter Rigaud)

“Festivals have to create some controversy – otherwise they’re just boring.”  So said Helga Rabl-Stadler, President of the Salzburg Festival, as she unveiled the programme for the 2011 Festival which runs from 27 to 30 August next year.

The theme of the festival is taken from a quote about the purpose of art from the Italian composer Luigi Nono: ‘To awaken the ear, the eye, and human thought”. (Nono’s monumental Prometeo forms part of next year’s Salzburg concert programme).

Three operas lie at the heart of the 2011 summer programme: a new production of Verdi’s Macbeth, featuring the first collaboration between the iconic German director Peter Stein and conductor Riccardo Muti. Also new are Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten (directed by Christof Loy, conducted by Christian Thieleman), and Janacek’s The Makropolus Case, directed by Christoph Marthaler and starring Angela Denoke, under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen.

All three Mozart/Da Ponte operas directed for Salzburg by Claus Guth will be performed as a ‘cycle’ next year. Lead singers include Gerald Finley as Don Giovanni, Christopher Maltman as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, and Erwin Schrott appearing both as Leporello and in the title role of the Marriage of Figaro.
The operas will feature three different orchestras: Les Musiciens du Louvre under Mark Minkowski, The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Robin Ticcati and the Vienna Philarmonic with Yannick Nézet-Séguin .

“This will be the first time that any of the Mozart/Da Ponte works have been performed on period instruments at Salzburg,” said this year’s artistic director Markus Hinterhäuser. “Using three orchestras will really show audience the range of styles and musical possibilities that can be applied to these operas.”

There will also be a concert double-bill of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol, featuring Anna Netrebko and Piotr Beczala.


News round-up – 26 November 2010

26 November 2010

LA Opera Music Director, James Conlon
LA Opera Music Director, James Conlon(Photo: Mark Lyons)

Conductor renews contract until 2013

Conductor James Conlon has extended his contract as Music Director of LA Opera until 2013. He will continue to work alongside Plácido Domingo, who also recently renewed his contract as the company’s general director. Conlon has conducted 23 productions since joining LA Opera in 2006.  "Under his baton our wonderful orchestra has never sounded better,” said Domingo, welcoming the news.

Task force called in to sort out company’s woes

Opera Cleveland is facing an uncertain future due to funding difficulties and has called in a task force to save the company. Executive director, William Cole, recently told that "We've just not been able to get in front of the tsunami of reduced funds” which has been building since 2006, when Opera Cleveland was created from a merger of Cleveland Opera and Cleveland Lyric Opera. No further performances will take place until a new strategy is in place.

Community opera to launch Essex-based venture on 6 December

A new £8.3 million production workshop owned by the Royal Opera House will open next month with a special performance by local volunteers. The 19-metre high building at Purfleet in Essex is capable of housing full-size stage sets for ROH productions as well as hosting education projects and local-community events. UK culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has agreed to attend the opening on 6 December.

Creative Wales Awards 2010

The Music Director and co-founder of Music Theatre Wales, Michael Rafferty, is one of 18 arts practitioners who recently received a Creative Wales Award from the Arts Council of Wales.  Rafferty will use his award to research the latest developments in the European new music scene, expand his concert repertoire and hone his conducting technique.

Robin Thompson to hold the reins while a new director is sought

Virginia Opera (VO) has appointed Robin Thompson as an interim artistic advisor following the recent departure of VO’s long-time artistic and music director, Peter Mark. Thompson was most recently the producing artistic director at the New York City Opera. He says he will “offer a sense of stability to the casting and season planning process" during the search for a new artistic director to succeed Mark.

Tenor named Person of the Year at awards ceremony in Las Vegas

Plácido Domingo, speaking at this year’s Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas, said he was filled him with "happiness and emotion" at being named Person of the Year. The 69-year-old tenor added: "It gives me such happiness to keep on singing and living days like this."


ROH announces 5-night residency for Rufus Wainwright

25 November 2010, London, UK

Rufus Wainwright
Rufus Wainwright(Photo: Matthias Clamer)

Singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright has been invited to take up a 5-night residency at London’s Royal Opera House from 18 to 23 July 2011.

He is the first popular artist ever to be given this opportunity, though one-off celebrity events have been presented by ROH in the past.

Titled ‘House of Rufus – 5 Nights of Velvet, Glamour and Guilt’, the residency will include two performances of Wainwright’s Judy Garland tribute show, Rufus Does Judy!, originally given at the London Palladium in 2007, and a concert performance of his debut opera, Prima Donna. All three nights will feature the Britten Sinfonia under conductor, Stephen Oremus.

Solo performances by Wainwright plus appearances by his sister, Martha Wainwright, and father, Loudon Wainwright III, are also planned.

“We’re very excited about having Rufus and the Wainwright family here in July next year,” said Deborah Bull, ROH's Creative Director. “Our stage is now renowned the world over as a place where a wide range of singers tell stories and engage the emotions through the power of the human voice. ‘House of Rufus’ will continue this tradition whilst extending the diversity of the artists and the musical genres we offer.”


Boston Lyric Opera hosts aria contest for teens

25 November 2010, Boston, US

BLO Aria Contest participants
BLO Aria Contest participants(Photo: Boston Lyric Opera)

Boston Lyric Opera’s “Free Open House” weekend of activities for families and opera lovers recently culminated in the city’s second annual Aria Contest for teens.

Six young singers performed arias by Mozart and Bizet at Boston’s Schubert Theatre, including a doo-wop trio arrangement of ‘Voi che sapete’ from The Marriage of Figaro. This same aria was also performed by the contest’s 16-year-old winner, Tal Heller (pictured, far right), who received a cash prize of US$1,000.

BLO Artistic Director Esther Nelson welcomed all the participants on stage and the event was introduced and adjudicated by a panel of local celebrities.


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