Antony Lias, 7th January 2011
A Service of Thanksgiving for Dame Joan Sutherland has been organised by the Australian High Commission in London and The Royal Opera, to remember the enormous achievement made by this great soprano to the world of opera. The service will be held at Westminster Abbey on Tuesday 15th February 2011 at 12 noon. Attendance is open to the public, but the demand is expected to be high. To guarantee your place (and obtain up to two tickets), you must visit the following website and enter your address details:
Antony Lias, 11th October 2010
Dame Joan Sutherland, one of the greatest sopranos of the 20th Century, died today aged 83. Dogged by ill-health over the past couple of years, The Sydney Morning Herald broke the news of her death to a public unaware of her personal battle. In tribute to the singer dubbed La Stupenda, I am re-running an article which explores both her iconic status and her enormous contribution to opera.
Was it Archimedes who said, "Give me a microphone, and I will move the world"?
But the Metropolitan Opera, which consistently likes to advertise itself as "the greatest opera house in the world" announced this week that Andrea Bocelli would make his house debut in a solo recital with pianist Vincenzo Scalera on Sunday, February 13. Long-awaited? Perhaps not, although rumors have swirled around the house in recent years that Bocelli was being considered for a stage assignment. Bocelli apparently visited the Metropolitan last year and 'tried out' the stage, although the Met was non-committal about the event.
One of the 20th century's most influential and leading conductor's has died aged 84 in London. Sir Charles Mackerras lost his long running battle against cancer on the 14th of July 2010, but leaves behind him a great legacy, not least of which is his vital contribution in promoting the works of the Czech composer, Leos Janacek. It was in 1951 that he gave the British premiere of Janacek's Kat'a Kabanova at Sadlers Wells, which sparked the beginnings of international interest in the operas of the Czech composer, including the legendary Janacek opera cycle of recordings, which Sir Charles recorded for Decca.
Opera Holland Park
Coming up shortly at Opera Holland Park, is one of the season's most exciting and unusual operas, namely Riccardo Zandonai's unjustly neglected gem, Francesco da Rimini. With a history of staging some of the more out of the way operas, Opera Holland Park has taken risks in exploring areas of the repertoire, which would otherwise be rarely staged in the UK, if at all. Previous triumphs include Ponchielli's La Gioconda, Cilea's L'arlesiana and Adriana Lecouvreur,Mascagni's Iris and L'amico Fritz, Giordano's Fedora and Montemezzi's L'amore dei tre Re.
What has for quite some time been considered a solid management and artistic team at The Royal Opera, appears to now be showing some extraordinary cracks. Sources have informed me that we are shortly to hear about the alleged departure of Elaine Padmore, Director of Opera. No details as yet are available as to why she is jumping ship, or to which new company she is presumably joining.
Unlike the leaky vessel that is The Royal Opera, which was recently forced into making a series of embarassing, ramshackle, drip-fed led announcements about their new season (following the continual breaking of the planned operas on various blogs and websites), the English National Opera has managed to successfully keep their plans under wraps until today, announcing an exciting and innovative year ahead, which is something the lacklustre Royal Opera schedule is unable to compete with (more of which in a separate article). Of the fourteen productions, ten are new, with eight of them originating in London. Eight directors make their debuts with the ENO (including some very surprising choices as you are about to read), and Wagner makes a return to the company with a stellar cast. Before discussing what's on offer, here is the complete listing:
Magda Olivero Celebrates 100th Birthday
The great Verismo soprano Magda Olivero, celebrates her 100th birthday today. Born in Saluzzo, Italy on March the 25th 1910, Olivero made her professional debut in Cattozzo's I misteri dolorosi in 1932, but retired for the first time in 1941 upon marriage. She returned to the professional stage in 1951 at the request of Francesco Cilea to perform the title role in his Adriana Lecouvreur. She received great acclaim as Minnie in La fanciulla del West, Iris, Medea, Fedora, Wally and Tosca to name but a few of her roles. It was in this last role that she made her sensational debut in 1975, aged 65, at The Metropolitan Opera, New York! Olivero was one of the 20th century's greatest singing-actress who produced many thrilling and moving accounts of favoured heroines. Although she was not extensively recorded, Decca did manage to capture the soprano very much still in her prime, with a sensational Fedora opposite Mario Del Monaco and Tito Gobbi.
Aida Cast Change: Luciana D'Intino Replaced by Marianne Cornetti
Luciana D'Intino has withdrawn from the role of Amneris in the new David McVicar production of Verdi's Aida at The Royal Opera, on grounds of ill-health. No further information is available at present, but the role of Amneris is now being taken over by Marianne Cornetti, who was last seen at The Royal Opera in September 2009 as Eboli in Verdi's Don Carlo.
The Royal Opera has published today a press release informing us that Emma Bell has had to withdraw from the the role of the Fox in this evening's performance of Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen, after undergoing an emergency appendectomy. Although she is still slated for the rest of the run (surely very unlikely?), tonight's performance will see the Jette Parker Young Artist, Elisabeth Meister taking over the role.
Audience participation is taken a step further with the ENO’s Satyagraha Remix, inspired by the opera of the same name by Philip Glass. Members of the public are invited to join composer Anna Meredith, sound designer Sam Godin and the classically trained Indian singer Falu, in an evening where they can record Satyagraha-inspired loops that will form part of the “Remix”.
Placido Domingo has withdrawn from Tamerlano at The Royal Opera, following news that he needs to undergo "medically recommended preventative surgery". It is believed that he has been suffering from abdominal pains whilst performing in Tokyo and has been advised that an operation is required, with a rest period of approximately six weeks to follow. This has no doubt produced quite a headache for The Royal Opera who have heavily advertised Domingo's presence in this years schedule of operas. He is still due to perform in Simon Boccanegra in June, but one suspects that both The Royal Opera and the paying public will be on tenterhooks as to the likelihood of his participation.
Courtesy of Opus Arte and Select Music, we have a copy of their recently released Tristan und Isolde on DVD to give away. This Glyndebourne production, featuring a stellar cast which includes Nina Stemme, Katerina Karneus, Rober Gambill and René Pape, has deservedly received rave reviews. To be eligible to win this DVD you need to first register for our monthly newsletter and then answer the following question correctly:
Elisabeth Söderström dies aged 82
News has just broken that the great Swedish soprano Elisabeth Söderström, died on Friday morning due to a stroke. Her professional debut was as Bastienne in Mozart's rarely performed Bastien et Bastienne at the Drottningholm Court Theatre in 1947. Although closely associated with the Royal Swedish Opera, she performed at all the major opera houses around the world. Her UK debut was at Glyndebourne in 1957, where she would return to sing numerous Strauss and Mozart roles, with which she was to become so closely identifable, including Octavian, the Composer, the Countess in Capriccio and Susanna. She was also famous for her interpretation of some of Janacek's female heroines, not least Kat'a and Jenufa, where in both cases she made distinguished recordings with Sir Charles Mackerras that have remained unsurpassable in the recording catalogue. Her first appearance at Covent Garden was with the Royal Swedish Opera as Daisy Dodd in Blomdahl’s Aniara in 1960. Söderström was an astonishingly versatile artist, who brought great commitment and beauty of voice to everything she did.
Several high profile competitions from the past few weeks have released results of their various winners, including the controversial decision from the Wigmore Hall Song Competition which has already been discussed on Opera Britannia (click here to read), but until now we haven’t featured a summary of the pick of the rest.
Villazon withdraws from Covent Garden Manon
Rolando Villazon has withdrawn from next year's new production of Manon at The Royal Opera. It has been reported that although he is recovering well from the surgery on his vocal cords to remove a cyst, he considers the role of Chevalier des Grieux to be too strenuous to undertake at the moment. Italian tenor Vittorio Grigòlo will now take over and join the rest of the cast, which remains unchanged
Pappano Set to Renew Contract at Covent Garden
Word has finally (and unofficially) leaked out announcing that Antonio Pappano is about to renew his contract at The Royal Opera, which was due to expire in 2012. Sources claim a further three and five years respectively. No doubt an official announcement will be imminent from the press department at The Royal Opera. Whilst personally glad of this news, some are already deeply disappointed at the missed opportunity for perceived necessary change.
Opera North has just announced exciting plans for a series of concert performances of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, beginning in June 2011 with Das Rheingold, followed by Die Walküre in 2012, Siegfried in 2013 and finally Götterdämmerung in 2014. Building upon the success of recent concert performances of Nabucco, Salome, and last year's Elektra, which starred the outstanding Susan Bullock, Opera North's Ring Cycle will be performed in Leeds Town Hall, The Sage in Gateshead, The Symphony Hall in Birmingham and The Lowry in Salford Quays.
ENO iPhone Application
Calling all i-Phone users! The English National Opera have just introduced a brilliant new iPhone application called The ENO OperaGuide. Totally free of charge, it is the perfect way to keep up to date with all their latest news plus everything you could possibly want to know about up-and-coming ENO productions - including photos, audio links and video interviews. Click here for more details - an absolute must-have for any technology-loving opera fan.
Cast Amendments Announced - The Royal Opera
The Royal Opera house have just announced a whole series of cast amendments right up until June 2010. The details are:
Tristan und Isolde
"Matti Salminen has withdrawn from the role of King Marke for the first three performances of Tristan und Isolde (29 Sep, 2, 5 Oct) as he requires more time than anticipated to recover from recent knee surgery. The role of King Marke will now be sung by John Tomlinson for the first three performances, marking his debut in the role at Covent Garden."
"Due to pregnancy, Christine Rice has withdrawn from the role of Concepcion in The Royal Opera’s production of L’Heure espagnole. The role will now be sung by Romanian mezzo-soprano Ruxandra Donose."
"The role of Rodolfo will now be shared between three tenors: Polish tenor Piotr Beczala, Romanian tenor Teodor Ilincai and Jette Parker Principal Korean tenor Ji- Min Park.
Piotr Beczala will sing the role on 19, 21, 23 December, 2, 4, and 11 January, Teodor Ilincai will sing the role on 26 and 28 December and Ji-Min Park will sing the role on 5 and 7 January."
"The role of Fat Englishman will be sung by Australian bass David Woloszko who makes his debut with The Royal Opera." .
The Cunning Little Vixen
"The roles of the Forester’s Wife and Screech Owl will be sung by British mezzo-soprano Madeleine Shaw marking her debut with The Royal Opera."
La fille du régiment
"Please note the change of casting dates for the role of Tonio: Juan Diego Flórez will now sing the role on 17, 20, 22, 25 and 29 May. Colin Lee will now sing the role on 27 May, 1 and 4 June.
The role of La Duchesse de Crakentorp will be performed by Dawn French."
Singer Falls into Orchestra Pit!
Puerto Rican soprano, Ana María Martínez has been admitted to hospital after falling into the orchestra pit at Glyndebourne during this evening's performance of Rusalka. The performance was brought to a halt just before the conclusion of Act I, when the accident happened. Ms Martínez wanted to continue with the performance, but according to a statement made by Glyndebourne, "was immediately taken to hospital as a precautionary measure". The show did manage to continue, with the understudy Natasha Jouhl, stepping up from her role as first nymph.
Further Arts Council Awards
Arts Council England has just announced a second wave of awards from its recession chest, to help "maintain artistic excellence during the economic downturn". Readers may be interested to note that of the eight institutions selected to receive an award, Birmingham Opera Company and the Buxton Festival will receive £120,000 and £100,000 respectively. Perhaps more enlightening is the published details of those opera companies who unsuccessfully applied for assistance. Topping the list of surprising entries is Glyndeboure, whilst Clonter Opera in Cheshire were also turned down. You can read more on the Arts Council website:
The celebrated dramatic soprano, Hidegard Behrens, perhaps most famous for her Brünnhilde and Elektra, died in Tokyo of an aortic aneurysm, aged 72 on Tuesday . Behrens was in Japan to participate in the Kusatsu International Summer Music Festival, but was hospitalised on the Sunday.
A full obituary can be read in the Daily Telegraph
Twitter Inspires Opera!
In an unusal move, The Royal Opera is set to produce a brand new opera where the libretto is made up of "tweets" from mini-blogging site, Twitter. Anyone can submit a message of up to 140 characters and the Royal Opera will then take this data to produce the libretto for Helen Porter's opera. Aside from original music being composed by Porter, it has been reported that the opera will also feature some familiar arias, leading to the conclusion that it is to be some sort of pasticchio.
The Royal Opera's website reports that the style of opera is yet to be decided, whether tragedy or comedy, or presumably somewhere in the middle, it is ultimately for the twitterati to decide. Mooted names include Twitterdämmerung and Twitterdot, although personally I would prefer to hear Lucia di Twittermoor! As part of Deloitte Ignite 09, this is an attempt by the Royal Opera to broaden access to the arts. Whether it will be a successful step forward from its innovative ROH2 programme and free screenings, we will just have to wait and see. It is however, an interesting new direction which we here at Opera Britannia will be following closely. For more details visit Twitter here:
The Royal Opera Announces Cast for Mariinsky Ring, 26th July 2009
Keeping many on the edge of their seats regarding the casting for the Mariinsky Theatre's production of Wagner's epic Der Ring des Nibelungen, the Royal Opera has now revealed who is singing which role. In summary, Evgeny Nikitin and Mikhail Kit will share the role of Wotan, Nikolai Putilin will sing Alberich, Mlada Khudoley will be Sieglinde, Olga Savova and OlgaSergeyeva will share Brünnhilde, Viktor Lutsyuk and Leonid Zakhozhaev will share Siegfried. Further details can be found by clicking below: