sun 16/06/2019

Opera Features

theartsdesk in Göttingen: Handel goes east

David Nice

Let me confess: I had to return to lovely Göttingen as much for the frogs as for the Handel. Puffing out their throats like bubblegum, the amphibians' brekekekek chorus in the ponds of the great university’s botanic gardens actually made a more spectacular showing, in my books, than the main opera of this year’s Handel Festival, the 93rd, with its canny theme linking the German honorary Englishman with the Orient.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Kate Lindsey and Katharina Thoma on Glyndebourne's Ariadne auf Naxos

David Nice

What’s the perfect Glyndebourne opera? Mozart, of course, must have first and second places with Le nozze di Figaro – Michael Grandage’s lively production of country-house mayhem is revived again this season – and Così fan tutte. Then comes Amadeus’s greatest admirer, Richard Strauss, and Ariadne auf Naxos - his most experimental collaboration with his then-established house poet for Elektra and Der Rosenkavalier, Hugo von Hofmannsthal.

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BBC Proms 2013: Ring operas for a fiver each

David Nice

First, the good news: you can see Wagner’s entire Ring at the Royal Albert Hall, with absolutely the world’s finest Wagner singers and conductor in concert, for a grand total of £20. The bad news is that unless you have a season ticket – in which case it works out even cheaper – you’ll probably have to queue for most of the day to guarantee a place in the Arena or Gallery, and then you’ll still need the energy to stand for up to five hours an evening.

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'For him, maestro was an ironic term': Sir Colin Davis remembered

theartsdesk

Still the tributes come thick and fast, celebrating the greatest performances of the public figure who is remembered with the most universal affection and admiration this week (and on this day). We asked some of the top musicians to focus on an event, a meeting or a recording which made a special impact on them.

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Sir Colin Davis: 'He simply knew how Mozart should go'

Humphrey Burton

Colin was an enormous influence in my youth and I’d like to share some memories of those days. It was over 60 years ago, on a Sunday afternoon in May 1952, that  I attended a concert performance of The Marriage of Figaro given by Chelsea Opera Group in a school hall in Hills Road, Cambridge. The singers were all young, gifted and sparky. The orchestra purred.

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theartsdesk in Lyon: A contemporary opera house taking a bold approach

alexandra Coghlan

“There are three rivers in Lyons: the Rhône, the Saône and the Beaujolais.” Thus goes the popular saying – as apt today for France’s gastronomic and wine-quaffing capital as it was back in the 15th century, when the city first became a hub of European political and social life.

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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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