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Domingo's first baritone role greeted with standing ovation

30 October 2009, Berlin, Germany

Bottom line: Domingo returns to his baritone roots
Bottom line: Domingo returns to his baritone rootsMonika Rittershaus

With half a century as one of the world’s leading tenors already behind him, Plácido Domingo last weekend received a standing ovation when he turned  baritone, in the role of Simon Boccanegra.

The star-studded premiere of Federico Tiezzi’s new production of Verdi’s masterpiece, conducted by Daniel Barenboim, took place at the Berlin Staatsoper on 24 October and will run until 13 November. Two further performances are scheduled to take place in March next year as part of the Berlin Festtage 2010.

The role of Boccanegra has been a long-time ambition for Domingo, who began his career as a baritone in 1959, before changing to tenor when he joined Mexican National Opera. Now, aged 68, his still-lustrous voice has lost its edge at very the top of its considerable range. He has been known to transpose roles down in recent years, and the decision to make the switch to baritone was officially announced in January 2007.

Domingo is the master of diversification. He is one of the most powerful administrators in opera, running major US companies in Washington and Los Angeles. And he is as likely to be found conducting in the pit as singing on stage these days. As a sideline, he has invested some of his considerable fortune in the restaurant business.

Although Domingo once said that Boccanegra would be his last stage role, he has already been booked to perform numerous tenor and baritone roles over the next five years, including more performances in the title role of Simon Boccanegra at La Scala (May 2010) and Covent Garden (June 2010)


More from the Berlin Staatsoper website

Opera North to present Ring cycle

7 October 2009

One of the UK’s five national opera companies, Opera North, has announced plans to extend its series of Opera in Concert, with performances of Wagner’s The Ring. The cycle has been devised in partnership with The Sage Gateshead and Symphony Hall in Birmingham, and will be given over a four-year period, beginning in 2011 with Das Rheingold. Die Walküre and Siegfried are scheduled to follow in successive years, culminating with Götterdämmerung in 2014. Performances will also take place at Leeds Town Hall and The Lowry SalfordQuays.

The Opera in Concert series has been running since 2005 and has included performances of Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, Nabucco, Salome and most recently Elektra, mostly under the baton of Opera North music director, Richard Farnes, who will also conduct The Ring; the idea being to extend the company’s repertoire to include pieces that are often challenging to stage in many of the theatres that Opera North perform in.

Opera North has also announced that Richard Farnes has committed to remain the Company’s Music Director until 2014.


Prestigious awards ceremony looks for public input

2 October 2009

Anja Kampe with Edward Gardner, who this year won an award for his conducting at English National Opera
Anja Kampe with Edward Gardner, who this year won an award for his conducting at English National OperaCharlie Hopkinson

Rosalind Plowright and John Berry who collected the award for English National Opera's production of Partenope
Rosalind Plowright and John Berry who collected the award for English National Opera's production of PartenopeCharlie Hopkinson

The Laurence Oliver Awards, among the most prestigious of all performing arts awards is offering two opera-lovers the chance to join the professional judging panel for the 2011 ceremony.

Selected candidates will have access to the full range of London’s operatic offerings for a year. Working alongside professional judges, the two chosen opera enthusiasts will be required to exercise ‘perception and clarity’ in their critical assessment of performances in order to make a final decision upon the winners.

Nica Burns, president of the Society of London Theatre, which organises the awards said: ‘We’re looking for dedicated, enthusiastic and knowledgeable people from all walks of life who are passionate about the performing arts. You’ll see the best of what London theatre has to offer in 2010, and have to make some very difficult choices!’ 

Recent recipients of  Laurence Olivier awards for opera include the likes of conductor Edward Gardner, Natalie Dessay at the Royal Opera House, as well as an award in recognition of English National Opera’s 2008 production of Partenope.

Those wishing to apply can pick up a leaflet from any one of the West End theatres or apply online at www.olivierawards.co.uk. Alternatively, candidates can request a form from the Society of London Theatre by emailing awards@solttma.co.uk or sending a stamped addressed envelope to Awards Office (P), 32 Rose Street, London WC2E 9ET.

Deadline for application is 30 November 2009.

Glyndebourne appoints new Chorus Master

13 September 2009

Jeremy Bines
Jeremy Bines

Jeremy Bines has been appointed as the new Chorus Master for Glyndebourne. ‘I am absolutely thrilled’ says Bines. ‘Having come from three successful and pleasurable years with the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen (the last two as Chorus Master), I look forward to building on my personal experience. The Glyndebourne Chorus have a special reputation as a vital, energetic ensemble who perform to the highest musical and dramatic standards and I am excited to be at their helm and collaborate with them over the coming years.’

Bines, who has already started rehearsing the chorus ahead of the Glyndebourne Tour in Autumn, follows a line of distinguished predecessors, who among them include Jane Glover, Ivor Bolton, Christopher Moulds and Tecwyn Evans.

David Pickard, general director of Glyndebourne said, ‘We greatly look forward to welcoming the young and talented conductor, Jeremy Bines, as Glyndebourne’s new Chorus Master. Jeremy will take over from Thomas Blunt who completed his three year tenure this summer.’

In addition to his new role at Glyndebourne, Bines will return to Copenhagen in January where he will conduct a Bournonville/Balanchine double bill with the Royal Danish Ballet and Danish National Chamber Orchestra.

La bohème feature film in American cinemas

8 September 2009

From 23 September, the ‘breathtakingly dramatic’ feature film of La bohème will appear in cinemas across America.

The movie, which was filmed in Vienna in 2008, gives an intimate interpretation of this much loved tale of ‘love’ ‘friendship’ ‘passion’ and ‘fate’. Oscar and Emmy-nominated director, Robert Dornhelm takes full advantage of the cinematic effects to not only draw upon the passion and intensity already embedded in the story and music of the opera but to add another dimension altogether, revealing parts of the work that can so easily be lost or underexposed in a stage version.

Speaking about his intentions for the film, Dornhelm said: ‘I wanted to deliver something that is not only an illustration of the music, but also a recounting of an exciting and passionate love story. The music did the whole work for me – I only had to depict it faithfully in images. That means: to breathe life into the work's genuine emotions, naturalism and details.’

To coincide with the film’s screenings, Deutsche Grammophon have teamed up with iTunes to offer an exclusive release of selected tracks from the full-length recorded version of the soundtrack from the film. The selected tracks, which will be entitled ‘La bohème – Five Favourites’ will be available to download for $3.99 and features the most popular arias and duets from the opera, sung by the famous opera duo, Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón, who also star as the fatal lovers in the film.

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