fri 03/12/2021

Opera Features

Remembering Dmitri Hvorostovsky (1962-2017)

David Nice

A certain online scandalmonger and coffin-chaser likes to preface news of deaths in the musical world with "sadness" or "tragedy", usually when neither he nor we have heard of the person in question.

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'Singers must act better than ever before'

Selina Cadell

"Vary the song, O London, change!" sings Tom Rakewell as he tires of the great metropolis. WH Auden and Chester Kallman's libretto for Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress strikes a chord with me too. London has magnificent opera but, at the top end, it comes at a price. Not just for the audience but for the singers. Lavish sets and costumes force historical productions into revivals.

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'Fanny Price’s pained silences gave me the impulse to write music for her'

Jonathan Dove

When I first read Mansfield Park, some 30 years ago, I heard music. That doesn’t always happen when I read, and it certainly didn’t happen when I read other novels by Jane Austen. There is something about this particular book that provoked musical ideas.

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‘A massive party full of treats and surprises’: Annabel Arden on six mini masterpieces at Opera North

Annabel Arden

The first day of rehearsals for The Little Greats was thrilling and terrifying in equal measure: the casts of six shows, the whole chorus, all the creative teams and management milling around and talking nineteen to the dozen in the big, reverberant Linacre Studio at Opera North. Old friends, new colleagues – it was like a mixture of freshers’ week and a first night party. The noise was stupendous.

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Michael Volpe on a Requiem for Grenfell: 'one of the most remarkable evenings in our history'

Michael Volpe

On the morning of the Grenfell Tower disaster, as the news of the fire gathered pace and gravity, our phones were abuzz with concern for our front of house colleague, Debbie Lamprell, who we knew lived in the tower. We all called her number time and again, sought to reassure one another with optimistic scenarios whereby her telephone may have been left at home as she escaped. My telephone rang again.

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Pick of the 2017 BBC Proms: from Orthodox chant to Oklahoma!

theartsdesk

It’s the best-looking Proms season on paper for quite a few years.

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'Oh, the glamour!' - Roderick Williams weighs up a singer's life

Roderick Williams

“So, what do you do for a living?” You might think this question, the mainstay of any polite conversation with a new acquaintance, would be just the moment any opera singer would relish. Here is the chance to declare who we are, what we do, and to bask in some adulation. “An opera singer? No, really? That must be so glamorous…” and so on.

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theartsdesk at Budapest Wagner Days: Bayreuth on the Danube

David Nice

While Merkel's Germany has won back world leadership, Wagner's festival shrine at Bayreuth lost its post-war pre-eminence years ago. There hasn't been a strong Ring there since Kupfer's, which I was lucky enough to see in 1991, and things will only improve with the departure of overweening Katharina Wagner and Christian Thielemann (fine conductor, disastrous people-person).

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'The challenge is to make something of not very much': Iestyn Davies on Britten's Oberon

Iestyn Davies

Tomorrow Britten’s opera A Midsummer Night’s Dream will begin a short run at the Snape Maltings, Suffolk in a new production directed by Netia Jones and conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth. It will mark the high point of the Aldeburgh Festival’s summer celebrations half a century on from the opening of the Snape Maltings concert hall.

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'You are my hero, dear Jiří': Karita Mattila and others remember Jiří Bělohlávek

theartsdesk

The first of Jiří Bělohlávek’s final three appearances in London, conducting his Czech Philharmonic in a concert performance of Janáček’s Jenůfa, came as a shock. The trademark grey curly hair had vanished.

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