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Opera: April 2008 Archives

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:

Too Tabloid for Opera?

Anna Nicole Smith

Anna Nicole Smith: The Opera at the ROH

By Laura Clout
The Telegraph

The life of the late Playboy centrefold Anna Nicole Smith is to be turned into an opera by the co-creator of the cult musical Jerry Springer: The Opera.

Composer Richard Thomas is writing the libretto for a contemporary piece, to be staged at the Royal Opera House in 2010.

He said the tragic life story of Ms Smith, a former stripper who died from an overdose of prescription drugs a year ago, was "a classic American tale about celebrity" which was "intrinsically operatic".

The production, still in the early stages of development, is intended to be shown on the main stage at the Royal Opera House, accompanied by a 90-piece orchestra.

Mr Thomas admitted that he was fascinated by stories which might seem "trashy". He told The Independent newspaper: "It's an incredible story. It's very operatic and sad. "She was quite a smart lady with the tragic flaw that she could not seem to get through life without a vat of prescription painkillers."

However, his choice of subject, a woman labelled "the queen of trailer trash" by American tabloids, is unlikely to appeal to diehard fans of classical opera, some of whom have accused the Royal Opera House of dumbing down.

Read more about this at the Telegraph website: