Opera Gossip Overseas
The Manila Symphony Orchestra (The Phillippines), in an early celebration of the Wagner Bicentennial, featured Claire Primrose in an all-Wagner concert on the 10th November, 2012 at the Philamlife Theater, United Nations Avenue., Manila.
Opera patron Joseph Uy described Primrose in the Manila media as a “true Wagnerian voice.” Primrose came to his notice for her Elektra at the Taipei International Festival of Arts and said ”Singers who possess a Wagnerian voice are, indeed, very rare. This is true not only in Asia but all over the World. Equally demanding is Richard Strauss’ “Elektra” now gradually being identified with Primrose. There are so few singers who can sing that role. The last unforgettable one I heard was Dame Gwyneth Jones. What I love in Claire Primrose is that she is so musical and yet willing to take risk, seldom you hear someone who really sings the part lyrically, yet conveys the meaning of each word and makes you feel what she is feeling at that time.”
The program consisted of the following excerpts:
Dich teure Halle
Tristan und Isolde Prelude
Die Walküre - “Winterstürme Duet”
Ride of the Valkyries
Die Götterdämmerung - Immolation Scene
“While Primrose sang, each aria gained consistently in atmosphere, credence and momentum, magnetizing the listeners with its fiery intensity…
With her sumptuous, puissant voice — dark and rich —
her firmly sustained top notes rose and floated above the orchestra…
she was arguably inimitable”.
The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, founded by Richard D’Oyly Carte in the 1870′s and with a 130 year old tradition of performing the Comic Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan for 130 years has announced that they will return to production in 2013 after a ten year hiatus.
THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE will be staged as a co-production with Scottish Opera during their 2012/13 Season in May and June of 2013.
The D’Oyly Carte Opera Music Director, John Owen Edwards will conduct, the production will be directed by Martin Lloyd-Evans, designed by Jamie Vartan and choreographed by Steve Elias.
The production opens at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow on Wednesday 15th May 2013, and will also be seen at His Majesty’s Theatre Aberdeen, The Festival Theatre Edinburgh, and the Eden Court Theatre Inverness.
Additional performances in the UK are in the planning stages.
The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company has had a chequered career since the Centenary Season at the Savoy Theatre in 1975. Rising costs caused the Company to be disbanded and close in 1982. Following the death of Bridget D’Oyly Carte (the granddaughter of Richard D’Oyly Carte) in 1985, the company received a legacy of £1,000,000 from her estate, which together with secured new sponsorship enabled the Company to reform in 1988. New productions of IOLANTHE and THE YEOMAN OF THE GUARD toured nationally, and over the next 5 years new productions of THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, THE MIKADO, TRIAL BY JURY, HMS PINAFORE, and THE GONDOLIERS were also added.
In 1993 the repertoire was extended to include non-Gilbert and Sullivan works including ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD, DIE FLEDERMAUS, LA VIE PARISIENNE, and THE COUNT OF LUXEMBOURG.
Between 1990 and 1997 the Company was based in the Midlands, but returned to London in 1998. Then followed 2 successful seasons of Gilbert and Sullivan at the Royal Festival Hall and a highly successful production of PIRATES at the Queen’s Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue in the West End at Christmas 1998.
In February of 2000, the Company returned to it’s spiritual home - the Savoy Theatre with a production of HMS PINAFORE. This was followed by productions of THE MIKADO (Directed by Ian Judge and designed by Tim Goodchild), PIRATES (directed and designed by the Australian team of Stuart Maunder and Roger Kirk), IOLANTHE, THE YEOMAN OF THE GUARD and finally their last staged work, HMS PINAFORE which ran through to March in 2003, when the Company was again in financial difficulty and forced to close again.
The Savoy Hotel Group, including the Savoy Theatre was sold to Quinlan Private in 2004 and has changed hands several times since.
It is exciting to see the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company treading the boards again, even though it may not be in their spiritual home. Perhaps co-productions with opera companies such as Scottish Opera will be a more successful model to follow to keep the performance traditions and spirit of the Company alive.
The fledgling Israel Wagner Society that was formed little over one year ago, has organised a symposium on Wagner and the first ever concert of the music of Wagner in Israel for the 18th June 2012.
An Israeli symphony orchestra will play works by Richard Wagner inside the country for the first time since the state’s foundation in 1948.
The last time an Israeli orchestra tried to play the music of Wagner was when Arturo Toscanini (a noted anti-fascist) planned to play Wagner with the then Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra the day after Kristall Nacht in November 1938. That concert was cancelled.
Many people in Israel, including senior members of the Government and previous Prime Ministers, have strongly opposed any attempts to program the music of Wagner in concerts in Israel due to Wagner’s anti-Semitic views, and the association of Wagner’s music with the Nazi regime and Adolph Hitler (Wagner was Hitlers favourite composer).
In 2001, Daniel Barenboim and the visiting Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra played the overture to Tristan Und Isolde at a Jerusalem concert as an encore. This precipitated angry walkouts, and he was widely denounced by the then Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon. Today, the Israeli Government and Military use German built trains and submarines, but remain unwilling to embrace the music of Wagner.
The President of the Israel Wagner Society, 67 year old Jonathan Livny, has said he has circumvented the long-held view that publicly subsidised orchestras should not play Wagner by ensuring that each of the 100 musicians who will play in the concert will be privately engaged as individuals. He has also stated during an interview with The Independant that those who were most vociferous in calling for a boycott of Wagner “don’t listen to classical music anyway”. He added: “The important thing is that this is good music, and I am against any boycott of that regardless of who wrote it. Also you can’t understand modern music without listening to Wagner. Schoenberg, and Mahler. All these composers were disciples of his. It’s like saying ‘don’t listen to Beethoven’. He made his imprint on music. And so did Wagner.”
Sadly, opposition from some sections of the Israeli community and Government is expected, so the the plans for the symposium and concert have been announced barely three weeks prior to the event, so as not to give any opposition time to regroup.
The concert will be part of a day of discussion and music at Tel Aviv University. It will explore the inspiration the Zionist visionary, Theodor Herzl, drew from Wagner’s opera TANNHAUSER when he was writing the first draft of his seminal book The Jewish State.
For Australian readers the symposium and concert is notable for the involvement of Israeli born conductor Asher Fisch, who takes over as the Chief Conductor and Musical Advisor of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra in 2014, and also conducted the performances of Wagner’s DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN for the State Opera of South Australia in 2004, and Australian helden baritone, John Wegner.
The program for the event is below.
Opera Insider wishes our musical friends in israel best wishes and Shalom for this mighty and historical event.
Last week the BBC Proms launched their program for 2012. The exciting program includes a concert performance of the much lauded, 2009 English National Opera production of Benjamin Britten’s PETER GRIMES, again starring Australian tenor, Stuart Skelton. The concert will also include Amanda Roocroft as Ellen Orford, Iain Paterson as Captain Balstrode, Felicity Palmer as Mrs Sedley, and will be conducted by ENO Musical Director, Edward Gardner.
This is the third time that Mr Skelton has performed at the BBC Proms, following performances in 2004 in the title role of Dvorak’s DMITRIJ and in 2011 in Mahler’s DAS KLAGENDE LIED.
Other exciting operas and choral works announced in the BBC Proms 2012 Program include:
Debussy’s PELLEAS AND MELISANDE
Lerner and Lowes’ MY FAIR LADY
Berlioz’ THE TROJANS
Gilbert and Sullivans’ THE YEOMAN OF THE GUARD
Mozart’s THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO
Adam’s NIXON IN CHINA
Bach’s MASS IN B MINOR
Handel’s JUDAS MACCABAEUS
Elgar’s THE APOSTLES
The program is extremely varied with many exciting works being presented. If you wish to read more on the BBC Proms 2012 Program look here:
With momentum building for the London Olympics, opera companies are ramping up for the Olympic Arts Festival with some interesting works many of which feature Australasians. Here is a smattering of some of our home grown stars planned work over the next few months.
ROYAL OPERA, COVENT GARDEN
4 Cycles of Wagner’s RING during September through to November including Simon O’Neill as Siegmund, Peter Coleman-Wright as Donner and Gunther and Susan Bullock (soon to be adopted as an Aussie after her electrifying performance as Katerina Ismailova in LADY MACBETH OF MTSENSK, and our future Brunhilde for Opera Australia in 2013) as Brunhilde
Berlioz’ THE TROJANS with Ji-Min Park (recently Rudolpho in LA BOHEME, Alfredo in the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour LA TRAVIATA, and rumoured to be Ernesto in a forthcoming DON PASQUALE with Opera Australia) as Iopas, and Pamela Helen Stephen (a much underrated singer when she was with Opera Australia) as Hecube
A new production of Britten’s GLORIANA with Susan Bullock as Elizabeth I and Peter Coleman-Wright as Sir Robert Cecil
A revival of Elijah Moshinsky’s production of Verdi’s SIMON BOCCANEGRA to be performed in the 1881 version
ENGLISH NATIONAL OPERA
A new production of Wagner’s FLYING DUTCHMAN with Stuart Skelton as Erik (replacing Julian Gavin who has unfortunately had to withdraw for health reasons) and Orla Boylan as Senta (another adopted Aussie after singing Mimi in LA BOHEME, Ellen Orford in PETER GRIMES, Procne in Richard Mills LOVE OF THE NIGHTINGALE and a terrific Chrysothemis in ELEKTRA all for the West Australian Opera)
A revival of Puccini’s MADAME BUTTERFLY with Pamela Helen Stephen as Suzuki and conducted by Oleg Caetani (ex-Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)
A new production of Glanert’s CALIGULA starring Peter Coleman-Wright in the title role, directed by Benedict Andrews, sets by Ralph Myers and costumes by Alice Babidge. Translation by Amanda Holden
A new production of Britten’s BILLY BUDD with Jonathan Summers as Mr Redburn and directed by David Alden (director of the recent controversial TOSCA and delightful PARTENOPE for Opera Australia)
OPERA HOLLAND PARK
A new production of LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR with Elvira Fatykhova and Aldo di Toro as Lucia and Edgardo, and directed by Olivia Fuchs (Opera Australia I CAPULETI e i MONTECCHI). A shame that Richard Bonynge was not engaged to conduct to rekindle the magic found in the recent Queensland Opera LUCIA with Elvira Fatykhova
New Zealand soprano Anna Leese singing Tatiana in EUGENE ONEGIN
Peter Robinson (an old friend of both Opera Australia and Queensland Opera) conducting Verdi’s FALSTAFF
The finals details of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden is due to be released in the next 2 days and is expected to be as follows:
RING CYCLE opens 24th September 2012
L’ELISIR D’AMORE – Donizetti opens 13th November 2012
conductor - Bruno Campanella, director – Laurent Pelly, cast – Roberto Alagna/Stefan Pop, Aleksandra Kursak, Ambrogio Maestri
ROBERT LE DIABLE – Meyerbeer (new production) opens 6th December 2012
conductor – Daniel Oren, director -Laurent Pelly, cast – Diana Damrau, Marina Poplavskaya, Bryan Hymel, John Relyea
LA BOHEME – Puccini opens 17th December 2012
conductors – Mark Elder/Alexander Joel, director – John Copley, triple cast includes Barbara Frittoli, Rolando Villazon, Vittorio Grigolo
THE MINOTAUR – Harrison Birtwistle opens 17th January 2013
conductor – Antonio Pappano, director – Stephen Langridge, cast – John Tomlinson, Christine Rice, Johan Reuter, Andrew Watts
EUGENE ONEGIN – Tchaikovsky (new production) opens 4th February 2013
conductor – Robin Ticciati, director – Kasper Holten, cast – Krassimira Stoyanova, Elena Maximova, Pavol Breslik, Simon Keenlyside
WRITTEN ON SKIN – George Benjamin (London premiere) opens 8th March 2013
conductor – George Benjamin, director – Katie Mitchell, cast - Barbara Hannigan, Bejun Mehta, Allan Clayton, Christopher Purves
TOSCA – Puccini opens 2nd March and 9th July 2013
conductors – Maurizio Benini/Daniel Oren, director – Jonathan Kent, cast – Amanda Echalaz/Kristine Opolais/Martina Serafin, Massimo Giordano/Younghoon Lee/Aleksandrs Antonenko, Michael Volle/Scott Hendricks
NABUCCO - Verdi (new production) opens 30th March 2013
conductor – Nicola Luisotti, director – Daniele Abbado, cast – Lyudmila Monastyrska, Leo Nucci/Placido Domingo
DIE ZAUBERFLOTE - Mozart opens 16th April 2013
conductor – Julia Jones, director – David McVicar, cast – Ekaterina Siurina/Sophie Bevan, Christopher Maltman/Simon Keenlyside
DON CARLO - Verdi opens 4th May 2013
conductor – Antonio Pappano, director – Nicholas Hytner, cast – Jonas Kaufmann, Anja Harteros, Mariusz Kwiecien, Ferruccio Furlanetto
LA DONNA DEL LAGO - Rossini (new production) opens 17 May 2013
conductor – Michele Mariotti, director – John Fulljames, cast – Joyce Didonato, Juan Diego Florez
GLORIANA – Britten (new production) opens 20 June 2013
cond – Paul Daniel, director – Richard Jones, cast – Susan Bullock, Kate Royal, Toby Spence
SIMON BOCCANEGRA – Verdi opens 27 June 2013
cond – Antonio Pappano, director – Elijah Moshinsky, cast – Thomas Hampson, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Hibla Gerzmava
LA RONDINE – Puccini opens 5 July 2013
conductor – Marco Armiliato, director – Nicolas Joel, cast – Angela Gheorghiu/Ermonela Jaho, Vittorio Grigolo
CAPRICCIO – Richard Strauss (concert performance) opens 19 July 2013
conductor – Andrew Davis, cast – Renee Fleming, Christine Rice, Christian Gerhaher, Bo Skovhus
The Opera National de Paris revealed details of their 2012/2013 opera season 2 days ago. The season detailed below includes some fascinating works including LA GIOCONDA, CAPRICCIO and L’ENFANT ET LES SORTILAGE. Surprisingly only one Verdi in the Bicentenary year of his birth, and no Britten for his birth centenary.
LES CONTES DE HOFFMANN
7th September to 3rd October 2012
8th to 27th September 2012
LE NOZZE DI FIGARO
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
15th September to 25th October 2012
THE RAKE”S PROGRESS
10th to 30 September 2012
LA FILLE DU REGIMENT
15th October to 11th November 2012
23rd October to 20th November 2012
22nd November 2012 to 25th March 2012
4th to 29th December 2012
22nd January to 9th February 2012
LE NAIN/L’ENFANT ET LES SORTILEGES
23rd January to 12th February 2013
29th January to 12th February 2013
17th February to 10th March 2013
27th February to 24th March 2013
21st March to 15th April 2013
HANSEL UND GRETEL
14th April to 16th May 2013
2nd to 31st May 2013
21st May to 16th June 2013
Georg Friedrich Handel
23rd May to 18th June 2013
Just a reminder to readers that the Opera Australia production of Wagner’s DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN slated for Melbourne in November/December 2013 is not the only RING scheduled for the Bicentenary year of Wagner’s birth.
Announced or anticipated performances of DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN for the Wagner fans and more adventurous are as follows:
Frankfurt: January/ February
Halle: 3, 5, 7, 9 March
Berlin, Staatsoper: March/ April
New York, Metropolitan Opera: 6, 13, 20, 23 April; 25, 26, 29 April, 2 May; 4, 6, 8, 11 May
Vienna, Staatsoper: May
Riga, Latvian National Opera: 28, 29, 31 May, 2 June; 4, 5, 7, 9 June
Mannheim: 22, 25, 31 May, 2 June; 28, 30 June, 4, 7 July
Paris, Bastille: 18, 19, 23, 26 June
Milan, La Scala: June
London Proms/ Berlin Staatsoper: June
Longborough: 16, 18, 20, 22 June; 28, 30 June 2, 4 July
Munich: Bavarian State Opera: July
Bayreuth: July/ August
Seattle Opera: 4, 5, 7, 9; 12, 13, 15, 17; 20, 21, 23, 25 August
Amsterdam, De Nederlandse Opera: August/ November
Melbourne: November/ December
Florence/ Valencia, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino: Dates tba
Hamburg: Dates tba
Lübeck: Dates tba
With thanks to Peter Bassett for supplying this information.
The Scottish composer, Stuart Mitchell, has written a score purported to be based on Beethoven’s DNA from a clipping of the composer’s hair.
The hair was passed down through generations, and even survived Auschwitz, hidden from guards inside a prisoner’s bottom.
The story of the lock of Beethoven’s hair cut from his corpse and it’s journey to the present day was the subject of the 2005 documentary, BEETHOVEN”S HAIR directed by Larry Weinstein.
After the camp was liberated at the end of World War II, the prisoner retrieved the hair. It was eventually sold at auction at Sotheby’s in 2009.
Mitchell, assisted by fellow musician Martin Aeired, and helped by Italian artist Nicholuas Caposina obtained permission from the new owner to take a tiny sample of hair to obtain mitochondrial DNA.
Mitchell, a leading exponent of Cymatics in music, is said to have “pinpointed the 22 unique amino acids in Beethoven’s DNA, and assigned to each one note on a musical stave directly related to the amino acids’ resonant frequency”.
From these he composed a piece of music for piano and viola supposedly based on Beethoven’s DNA.
The work below, has been made into a five minute recording which is on World -wide release, with the team saying it is effectively a new piece composed by Beethoven two centuries after he died.
As delightful as his composition sounds, it is a far stretch of the imagination to conclude that it’s musical structure is due to any unique properties of Beethoven’s DNA. Of the 22 so-called ‘unique’ amino acids used in the composition – none are unique to Beethoven. Only 20 of those 22 amino acids are present in the Universal Genetic Code and are present in the DNA of all DNA based life on Earth!
The composition may be heard here:
While Sydney and the NSW Government flounders over making a decision to either do major renovations to the Opera Theatre of the Sydney Opera House, or build a new lyric theatre, Russia and St Petersburg have sufficient confidence in the importance of the arts and Russian culture to build a second lyric theatre for the Mariinsky, currently referred to as the Mariinsky II.
Following an International design competition, the winning design was jettisoned in favour of the above design by Jack Diamond, a principal of the Canadian Firm – Diamond Schmitt. Diamond also designed the highly successful Four Seasons Opera House in Montreal completed only a few years ago. Diamond Schmitt has the following to say about the project:
“To be entrusted with the opportunity to design a cultural centerpiece like the New Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia brings more than design issues to the table. There is the challenge of working at a great distance from the project, coming to understand and collaborating with people who have a different cultural sensibility and not least of all, the weight of carrying forward the tradition of the greats of Russian musical and ballet history. Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Diaghilev are just a few of the names associated with the Mariinsky company for whom Diamond and Schmitt is building its home for the 21st Century under the leadership of maestro Valery Gergiev.
As the new theatre sits adjacent to the original Mariinsky Theatre (1860), a respectful balance of design is required to not upstage its venerable predecessor. Jack Diamond had to find a contemporary expression of the historical principles of the Beaux Arts tradition of St. Petersburg and present them in the proper context with the surroundings. Clearly, this is not to be a design that dominates and draws attention to itself as this would jar with the existing urban scheme of this uniformly attractive city.
The thinking for this performance space is to remove the mystique and exclusiveness that predominates among earlier European concert hall design. By establishing a strong interaction between the street life and the public rooms of the hall, the New Mariinsky becomes more accessible, less intimidating, more transparent and overall a more engaging experience with a heightened discourse between the inside and out, which is a new concept for the Russians. The traditional Piano Nobile public rooms typically found on the second tier of theatres is brought to street level and revealed through glazing.
Another challenge is to introduce a contemporary palette to the theatre. The auditorium has a wood interior rather than traditional plaster and gilt. The aesthetic and acoustical attributes of this design had to be conveyed to the client as a re-interpretation of traditional precepts and represents gaining a new psychological connection with how the room conveys music and performance and the interconnection with the audience. The traditional Tsar’s (or VIP) box is respected in this design, maintained and adapted to co-ordinate with a contemporary aesthetic.
Working in Russia on such a high profile, government-funded, culturally charged assignment brings with it a mix of open economy thinking and entrenched Old School Soviet-era bureaucracy to accommodate.
Structurally, St. Petersburg is built on a swamp, situated as it is on a river delta. The history of building there is fraught with struggle. During the era of Tsar Peter I, who founded the city in 1703, and Catherine the Great, 30,000 lives were lost in building the grand infrastructure. Flooding remained a serious threat until the end of the 19th-century. The New Mariinsky has 800 piles underneath the foundation and three levels of below grade programming, which is highly unusual for the city, but necessary for the services and functionality of the theatre.
There is also the challenge of great expectations to deliver a superior theatre, not only for the stakeholders but also for the public for whom Diamond and Schmitt has been entrusted to elevate the legacy that is the Mariinsky Theatre.”
Meanwhile in Sydney, rumours waft around again concerning the proposed internal rebuilding of the Opera Theatre of the Sydney Opera House. Despite a total lack of financial commitment by any government – either State or Federal, a start date of 2015 is now mooted with a construction period of 9 years and a cost blowout to $Billion 1.2 !!
Perhaps Mr Diamond should be invited to Sydney to design a new opera theatre the National opera company needs and deserves. Rumour has it that senior executives of Opera Australia would prefer a new purpose built lyric theatre rather than risk continued problems with a rebuilt Opera Theatre in the Sydney Opera House which may remain incapable of providing the required space for a completely satisfactory lyric theatre comparable to those in other States.