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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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Latest News

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)

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.

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.”

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.

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

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. 


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.


Plácido Domingo’s Operalia 2010 at La Scala, Milan

27 April 2010

Plácido Domingo
Plácido Domingo(Photo: Richard Haughton)

Plácido Domingo’s Operalia 2010 ‘World Opera Competition’ was launched on Sunday at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.

40 singers aged 18 to 30 were heard in the first two days, out of whom 20 have been selected for today’s semi-finals.

10 finalists will go through to perform an aria of their choice on 2 May, each accompanied by the Filharmonica della Scala under Domingo and watched by a live audience of up to 3,000 people.

This year’s prizes include USD $30,000 for the two top winners (one male, one female) plus casting opportunities through Domingo and the option of joining his new Operalia Agency.

Operalia was founded in 1993 and takes place in a different city each year. Milan was chosen for 2010 because Domingo is currently celebrating his 40th anniversary at La Scala with six performances in the title role of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra.

The Competition attracts more than 1,000 applications each year and is one of the most prestigious international platforms for young opera singers. Past winners who have gone on to achieve worldwide success include soprano Elizabeth Futral, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and tenor Rolando Villazón.


BBC opera series to begin on 24 May 2010

23 April 2010

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa(Photo: John Swannell)

Broadcasts in BBC's major new series, A Passion For Opera, will begin on 24 May and continue through until December.

Featuring newly-commissioned films and performance screenings on BBC Two and Four plus a series of special programmes on BBC Radio 2 and 3, A Passion For Opera offers plenty of substance to engage the serious opera lover.

Speaking about the initiative, which he described as "the BBC's largest ever celebration of opera", Radio 3 Controller, Roger Wright, said: "It allows us to join forces with other colleagues in BBC radio, TV and interactive, to offer listeners unique opportunities to hear first class performances as well as other programming including documentaries, behind-the-scenes glimpses and opera recommendations."

Highlights include a three-part TV series about the role of opera in Italian history and culture, hosted by Antonio Pappano, a documentary tracing the creation of Graham Vick’s recent productions of Aida in Bregenz and Othello in Birmingham, and programmes in which soprano Kiri Te Kanawa and tenor Rolando Villázon explore the secrets of their craft.  

Three full-length opera broadcasts are also planned: Simon Boccanegra (with Plácido Domingo making his baritone debut in the title role) and David McVicar’s Le Nozze di Figaro from Covent Garden, plus Jonathan Kent’s new Glyndebourne production of Don Giovanni.

Broadcast dates will be announced soon via this web page.


Billed as a nationwide hunt for an opera star of the future, the Radio 2 Kiri Prize was launched earlier this year and is the BBC’s answer to ITV’s controversial Popstar to Operastar.

Hosted by Kiri Te Kanawa, the competition is designed to open up opera to new audiences.

Fifteen Kiri Prize semi-finalists selected from regional auditions will perform on air during June as part of A Passion For Opera. The top prizewinner will go on to perform in September at the BBC’s Proms in the Park.


News round-up - 21 April 2010

21 April 2010

Polish soprano, Aleksandra Kurzak
Polish soprano, Aleksandra Kurzak

Move follows growth in trade between the nations

The Chinese government has committed funds of USD $43 million to build an opera house in the oil and gas-rich North African state of Algeria. Chinese companies will construct the new building in a move described by officials as “an important symbol” of the close ties between the two countries. With over USD $4.5 billion in trade last year (Source: AP), China is now Algeria’s second biggest trade partner.

Flight ban prevents artists from travelling

This week's flight cancellations caused by Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull have posed problems for several international opera companies. Polish soprano, Aleksandra Kurzak, captured media attention when she took a taxi from Warsaw to London to perform at Covent Garden, while conductor Julien Salemkour replaced Pedro Halffter in Strauss’ Salome at Berlin’s Staatsoper. New York’s Metropolitan Opera also had to reschedule rehearsals for Berg’s Lulu because Anne Sofie von Otter was stuck in Stockholm.

Falling audiences and tourism downturn blamed

Opera Australia has announced the company’s first financial losses in six years, blaming falling audience numbers and a decline in tourism for its operating deficit of AUS $907,677. The Australian reported that productions of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Massanet’s Werther had fared particularly badly. These were presented during the company’s annual summer season in Sydney, which normally attracts many tourists.  A year-long wage freeze at the company will continue until profits return.

Ten young composers selected by professional jury

Ten young composers have been named as the winners of a nationwide competition to write fanfares for London’s Royal Opera House. The winners aged 11-14 were selected from more than 250 online entries by a panel of music professionals that included Royal Opera Music Director, Antonia Pappano. The winners’ fanfares will be recorded next week by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and from May onwards will replace the bell traditionally rung to signal the start of performances at Covent Garden.

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