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Recently in Opera Category

NEA Opera Honors

John Adams

NEA Chooses Five for 2009 Opera Honors

By Anne Midgette
Washington Post

The National Endowment for the Arts has announced the second crop of winners of the new NEA Opera Honors, established last year under then-NEA Chairman Dana Gioia.

The five 2009 honorees are composer John Adams; stage director Frank Corsaro; mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne; stage director and former general manager of the San Francisco Opera Lotfi Mansouri; and conductor Julius Rudel.

Read more about this at the Washington Post website:

The Tabloid Loves Opera


Opera – the Sun loves it

Hats off to the tabloid – their spread on opera is virtuoso stuff


Today's the day for Sun readers – and first-time, sheepish Sun readers who normally read the Guardian – to apply for cheap tickets to the first night of the Royal Opera House's new season on September 8, which I wrote about last week. And I have to say, hats off to the Sun – what a fabulous job they have done. On the front page the headlines read: "Amy was 'spiked with e'"; "Honeymoon Groom Ben Brain Dead"... and "A night at the Opera from £7.50... OPERA WE LOVE IIIIIIT!"

Inside comes the headline: "Sex, death, booze, bribery, revenge, ghosts... who said opera is boring?" The story explains that "The truth is, most operas are dirtier than Amy Winehouse's beehive, riper than a full-on effing rant by Gordon Ramsay and more violent than a Tarantino bloodfest."

This is virtuoso stuff. What's brilliant – and important and true -about the Sun's take on opera is that they see no reason to pretend that it's a polite, elegant, decorative artform – they are determined to communicate that it is dirty, dangerous, sexy and nasty. Which in my view, is spot on. Good for them. I even forgive them their rather hilarious attack on "elitist broadsheet the Guardian ... blow them. They can have a night in with thier mung bean sandwiches and discuss existentialist feminism. We'll be down at the opera having a knees-up".

Read more about this at the Guardian website:

Taking Criticism Seriously

Keith Burstein

Panned by reviewer, then told to go bankrupt

By Amol Rajan

A British composer was told to go bankrupt yesterday after he unsuccessfully tried to sue the London Evening Standard for libel. Keith Burstein ran up legal costs of £67,000 defending a test-case libel action against Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Standard, over a critical review of one of his operas.

He told Chief Registrar Stephen Baister in the Royal Courts of Justice that he was taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights. The registrar said Mr Burstein was entitled to take the case in Europe but he was required to pay the legal costs already run up. This would entail complying with a court order against him by paying the £67,000.

When Mr Burstein told the registrar he could not pay, Mr Baister replied: "Then you go bankrupt." He added that, in balancing the rights of Associated Newspapers against the speculative nature of what Mr Burstein was hoping to do, it was proper to rule on the side of the newspaper group, which also publishes the Daily Mail, in forcing him to pay legal costs.

Mr Burstein, 51, confirmed that he would not be able to pay. He is working on a new symphony for the South Bank Symphonia and on an opera with Ben Okri, the Booker Prize winner. "I lead a rather simple life and don't have many material possessions," he said later.

Read more about this at the Independent website:

Oh, The Horror!

The Fly

"The Fly" opera is buzz of Paris season

By Angela Doland
Yahoo News

Be afraid, be very afraid: David Cronenberg's 1986 horror flick, "The Fly," has undergone a bizarre metamorphosis. It's now an opera.

The new incarnation, with tenor Placido Domingo conducting a score by Oscar-winning composer Howard Shore ("The Lord of the Rings"), isn't as gory as the movie. Audiences will be spared close-ups of the title character's fingernails falling off as he makes the transition from mild-mannered scientist to giant insect.

Still, for an opera, it's pretty scary – even if there are touches of dark humor. Giggles broke out among those invited to Monday's dress rehearsal when a mezzo-soprano belted out the film's catchphrase: "Be afraid. Be very afraid."

Cronenberg, who is directing the opera, wasn't sure what effect it would have.

"Someone's 6-year-old said, after seeing one of our rehearsals, that she thought she would have to sleep with her parents for a while," he told reporters. "So I guess it's working."

Read more about this at the Yahoo News website:

The Metropolitan Opera

Met's cinema shows hit high note

High-def transmissions sparks new interest

By Pamela McClintock

The Metropolitan Opera's live high-def theatrical transmissions – seen worldwide by more than 920,000 people during the 2007-08 season – are creating new fans and sparking renewed interest among existing opera fans. Findings were included in a poll conducted by trade org Opera America in cooperation with National CineMedia, the Met's distribution partner.

The digital theatrical transmissions have been hugely popular over the past two Met seasons. That's good news for Hollywood studios and exhibs as they begin to look to alternative digital content to fill theater seats, particularly since they can charge more per ticket for special events.

The Met's program, whereby select operas are beamed live into theaters on Saturdays, were the brainchild of Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb, who was seeking ways to boost opera's profile, particularly in the post-9/11 period, when Met attendance dropped off.

Read more about this at the Variety website:

Resurgent Met

Peter Gelb, by Dario Acosta

New Era Brings Buzz (and Big Budgets) to the Met

By Anthony Tommasini
New York Times

In his mission to reinvigorate the Metropolitan Opera, Peter Gelb, who completed his second season as general manager on Saturday night, has inaugurated outreach campaigns and digital-media ventures that are the envy of the opera world. There have been the enormously popular live high-definition transmissions of broadcasts to movie theaters worldwide, and the Met's lively 24-hour station on Sirius satellite radio. Mr. Gelb has proved a master of marketing and drawn high-profile directors from film and theater into the house.

It has all been exciting. It has also been expensive. As The Wall Street Journal reported last month, the Met's operating budget has grown more than 21 percent in two years, to a projected $268.3 million, and the company is drawing down nearly 6.5 percent yearly on its endowment. Mr. Gelb confirmed on Tuesday that this year's deficit will be $6 million to possibly $10 million. He added, though, that last year the Met had a break-even budget, and he anticipates another for next year.

Read more about this at the New York Times website:

America Honors Opera

Leontyne Price

NEA Launches National Opera Awards

By Anne Midgette
Washington Post

Think of American art forms, and opera doesn't typically spring to mind. But now the federal government is setting out to change that.

Yesterday the National Endowment for the Arts announced the four winners of the first annual NEA Opera Honors, the first new program of national arts awards since the Jazz Masters awards were established in 1982. The first opera honorees are the great soprano Leontyne Price, conductor James Levine (who has led the Metropolitan Opera for 32 years), composer Carlisle Floyd ("Susannah") and administrator Richard Gaddes, who will retire this year from the Santa Fe Opera. Each will receive $25,000 in a ceremony on Oct. 31 at the Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, since the Washington National Opera is the NEA's partner for this first presentation.

Read more about this at the Washington Post website:

Vivaldi's "Argippo" Found

Antonio Vivaldi

Vivaldi's long-lost opera returns to Prague after 278 years

After hunting the missing manuscript down in a German archive, Czech conductor revives "Argippo"

By David Randall

A long-lost opera by Antonio Vivaldi was to have its first performance in centuries last night. Argippo, discovered by a Czech musician as he rummaged through an old archive of anonymous scores, was being staged at a castle in Prague, the city where it had its premiere in 1730. Fittingly, it will be conducted by Ondrej Macek, the man who found the manuscript, and played by his Baroque Music Ensemble Hofmusici.

Vivaldi, called by contemporaries "the Red Priest" for the colour of his hair, is known these days, to all but serious lovers of Baroque music, for a single work: The Four Seasons. However, he was a prolific composer who produced more than 500 concertos, 73 sonatas, numerous pieces of sacred music and 46 operas. One of them, Argippo, opened in the Palace of Count Spork in the centre of Prague 278 years ago. The Czech capital was then a city of arts with some of the best music of the time, often performed by the continent's most prominent singers and musicians.

Read more about this at The Independent website:

Richard Wagner's Family Legacy

Katharina Wagner, Richard Wagner's Great Granddaughter

Wagner's grandson steps down as Bayreuth director


Richard Wagner's grandson is resigning after 57 years as director of the Bayreuth Festival, officials said Tuesday, but the long-running family feuds over who will succeed him are set to continue.

"Wolfgang Wagner has announced his resignation," Markus Gnad, spokesman for the Bavarian culture ministry, told AFP.

Officially, it was not yet known who will succeed Wagner as director of the prestigious annual festival nor when he would formally step down, Gnad said.

However, observers see it as a done-deal that his two daughters, Eva, 63, and Katharina, 29, will run Bayreuth jointly.

Wolfgang has always insisted that his appointment was for life, and stubbornly refused to step aside, despite pressure from the festival's decision-making body, the Stiftungsrat. But earlier this month he indicated that he might compromise and allow Eva and Katharina to take over.

Read more about this at the AFP website:

I Puritani at the Met

A Big-Screen Test for Opera

Simulcasting Has Put A Song in the Hearts of Met Execs. Others Are Holding Their Applause.

By Anne Midgette
Washington Post

When "The Daughter of the Regiment," one of the Metropolitan Opera's most-anticipated premieres this season, comes live to a movie house near you on Saturday, it's a good bet that the theater will be mobbed. Met General Manager Peter Gelb's vision for high-definition cinema transmissions of operas has proved so successful after two seasons that the company is adding more of them every year: 11 have just been announced for 2008-09. And other opera companies are scrambling to catch up.

This spring, productions from the San Francisco Opera, La Scala in Milan and London's Royal Opera House began appearing in North American movie theaters. But the response has not been quite the same. On April 5, 170,000 people around the world saw the Met's "La Bohème." A week later, however, when a taped performance of the San Francisco Opera's "Don Giovanni" played in selected theaters around the country, the Pavilion Park Slope movie house in Brooklyn had all of 13 people in the audience.

Read more about this at the Washington Post website: