sun 22/09/2019

Opera Features

Newcomers triumph at BBC Music Magazine Awards

David Nice

We had, as presenter James Naughtie so wryly remarked, set aside our mourning weeds for the low-key glamour of celebrating a far from moribund classical recording industry. Movers, shakers and humble BBC Music Magazine contributors all shifted from the airy dining space at the ever-accommodating Kings Place yesterday - I won't forget the mint marshmallow - and descended to woody Hall One for the magazine's 2013 awards.

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Q&A Special: Conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch on Strauss and Wagner

David Nice

In many ways the most well-tempered of conductors, Wolfgang Sawallisch (1923-2013) brought a peerless orchestral transparency and beauty of line to the great German classics. Even the most overloaded Richard Strauss scores under his watchful eye and ear could sound, as the composer once said his opera Elektra should, “like fairy music by Mendelssohn”.

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Galina Vishnevskaya on Britten and his War Requiem

David Nice

One of Russia’s greatest and most inspirational sopranos, Galina Vishnevskaya died on 11 December at the age of 86. To the world at large, she will probably be most famous for taking an heroic stand alongside her husband, cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich, against the Soviet authorities over the treatment of Alexander Solzhenitsyn; in 1974, the couple were stripped of their citizenship as a result.

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Royal Opera House chief Tony Hall to the BBC - now what?

ismene Brown

So Tony Hall moves from heading the Royal Opera House to taking over the BBC as its new Director-General. I can't for a moment imagine a rerun of that crucial mini-conversation between Helen Boaden and George Entwistle over the Jimmy Savile programming (if you can remember all the way back to mid-October through the cannonfire since) taking anything like a similar course had it been Tony Hall rather than Entwistle.

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theartsdesk Olympics: Athletes at the opera

alexandra Coghlan

Triumph, despair, glory and struggle: the Olympic Games might technically be a sporting event, but in spirit and essence they are pure drama. Film-makers may have shouted loudest about this discovery, generating hit after Olympic-themed hit throughout the 20th century, but composers also know a thing or two about sporting thrills, with almost 300 years of Olympic action in the opera house.

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theartsdesk in Buxton: G&S live on (and on)

philip Radcliffe

Within hours of the opera buffs leaving town, having had their fill of Buxton Festivalia, the old spa changes gear for operetta. For three weeks, the town becomes the jolly international capital for Gilbert & Sullivan. Enthusiasts and performers from all over the country and foreign parts gather to celebrate the seemingly never-ending attraction of those old familiar tunes, characters and satirical send-ups.

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theartsdesk in Cape Town: Mandela Trilogy

Simon Broughton

“Come to the front with those guns. You need to frighten those poor Brits – pah, pah, pah, pah, pah!” Michael Williams hurls his fist forward as if wielding his own weapon as he urges the demonstrators with their sticks and guns forward. The crowd of black singers in front of him are recreating an anti-apartheid protest in Cape Town Opera’s production of Mandela Trilogy, which gets its European premiere in Cardiff on 20 June.

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theartsdesk in Göttingen: Handel Festival 2012

alexandra Coghlan

Other towns may choose national heroes as their emblems – posing generals, politicians or sword-wielding officers on horseback, glaring sternly down from their plinths – but not Göttingen. It is entirely in keeping with the unassuming, unobtrusive loveliness of this small town in Lower Saxony that its symbol should be not a grandee but a goose-girl.

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A Monstrous Reflection: on staging Caligula

Benedict Andrews

"How light power would be and easy to dismantle no doubt, if all it did was to observe, spy, detect, prohibit, and punish; but it incites, provokes, produces. It is not simply eye and ear: it makes people act and speak." Michel Foucault, Power

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theASHtray: Klinghoffer, Cape Town, and Debussy pisses off the poets

ASH Smyth

Who does the PR these days for Middle Eastern extremists? Whoever it is clearly wasn’t on board when the Palestine Liberation Front decided to whack the Achille Lauro. Or wasn’t aware that chucking a wheelchair-bound pensioner into the Med was the sort of move unlikely to garner widespread international support for the cause.

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