Classical Music Buzz > Brian Dickie
Brian Dickie
Life after 50 years in opera and still counting......
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Now for something completely different this evening - a play, no music, no super titles.  I will adjust!  This is Good People by Tony award winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire.

This means a trip tp the Hampstead Theatre, whose Artistic Director is Edward Hall.  We go back a bit - to 1970 when his father Peter was working at Glyndebourne for the first time.  Ed was just 4.......he has come a long way! He has been having a huge success as Artistic Director of the Hampstead Theatre.

With Imelda Staunton in the cast there is already great distinction, and the director is Jonathan Kent - so this should be a high class evening.

1 month ago | |
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Rodelinda©Tristram Kenton

John Mark Ainsley, Susan Bickley, Iestyn Davies and Rebecca Evans in ENO Rodelinda

There is no point in adding further to the ecstatic words that have greeted ENO's remarkable new production of Rodelinda.  Suffice to say that it is compulsory "viewing" for all who truly care about this, the greatest of all performing art forms.  It is an inspiration and model for us all - an immaculate cast and the superlative Christian Curnyn drawing miraculous playing from the ENO orchestra; the whole team in a human world created by the genius of Handel and Richard Jones.....enough!

It is worth the trip to St Martin's Lane from wherever you are in the world.

1 month ago | |
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White Horse

Well it seemed to be in the air this morning outside my friendly pub next door.  But it has now clouded over a bit.  However Spring will certainly be with us in spirit this evening for three and a half hours of Handel.  More about that tomorrow morning.....

For now I am concentrating on getting there in time for the early 7pm curtain up.

1 month ago | |
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Peaceful Kiev
St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery, Kiev May 28 2011 - more peaceful times

I first went to Kiev just three years ago.  This was Neue Stimmen's first set of auditions there and I came back with the eventual winner, Olga Bezsmertna.  I was back last year, and came back with an eventual third prize winner Oleksandr Kyreiev.  As we knew very well the Ukrainians are a hugely talented people.  So I am heart broken at even the suggestion of our not being able to go there in 2015.  

I have been in touch with our friends and partners in Kiev - the situation is fast moving and currently terribly uncertain.  But it is good that they know that we are thinking of them and wishing for a peaceful resolution.

Kiev is a beautiful city - and clearly it is very much still under the influence of the Russian empire.  Quite unlike Tbilisi, in Georgia, which has managed to free itself.  But there is a huge Russian speaking population in Ukraine, even in the western capital city of Kiev, and I felt that tension very strongly whilst I was there.  This was much more like the Warsaw or Prague of the late cold war period than the liberated Warsaw and Prague that we know today.

Maidan_Nezalezhnosti_Kiev_Ukraine
Maidan Square, Kiev, site of the mass demonstrations of recent days

I have had a quiet day in London today.  Tomorrow it is back to action with some opera!  Yes, English National Opera's enthusiastically received new production of Handel's Rodelinda.  An evening to look forward to.

1 month ago | |
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Having been away for the last two weeks I am looking forward to a family weekend.  So I will not be at Richard Jones's new production of Rodelinda that opens at the Coliseum this evening.  But I will be there on Tuesday.  I suspect that it will continue the run of exceptionally interesting productions that has been the pattern for English National Opera this season.  With Christian Curnyn at the helm and a wonderful cast I am looking forward to three and a half hours of pleasure.

My operatic activity of today has been confined to breakfast with Matthew Epstein.  Well that is always fun and this morning was no exception.  Having been away I have not kept my eye on the ball - I missed the announcement of the appointment of Robert Rattray to succeed Sarah Billinghurst at the Met.  It is always nice to have old friends and colleagues in high places!

I may now take a day off tomorrow.  Saturday is always a slow blog day anyway..........

1 month ago | |
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Well I am finally back in London - but what a saga!  The second flight due to depart from O'Hare at 6 had to be cancelled......or rather the plane was faulty and had to be replaced by another on.  So we left at 9pm instead. 

Patience at LHR

And when we arrived at Heathrow more than 2 and a half hours late there was no gate available and there was a fire alert which put us on hold, as seen above, for a further 15 minutes.  So it was a 24 hour journey!  Now time for a nap.

I am all in one piece after a really great ten days in Canada and the USA.  Now back to the excitements of London!

1 month ago | |
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An "unresolved smoke detector malfunction" has led to my flight to London being cancelled, so I am spending all day in the comfortable American Airlines Admirals Club instead of in a moderately comfortable economy extra seat on an ancient 767.  I will now arrive in London Heathrow at 7:45 tomorrow morning.......

Nathan_Gunn_Isabel_Leonard_Alessandro_Corbelli_BARBER_OF_SEVILLE_Lyric-Opera-Chicago-2014-©-Dan-Rest     © Dan Rest

Nathan Gunn, Isabel Leonard and Alessandro Corbelli in Lyric Opera's Il barbiere di Siviglia

But the upside is that I can do my blog about the immensely enjoyable Barber at Lyric yesterday evening. 

Over my thirteen years living in Chicago I have been immensely privileged to have seen pretty well all the Lyric's productions over those years. And I have additionally been coming regularly to Chicago for nearly 40 years.  Nevertheless the pleasure of this really snazzy performance of a warhorse like Barbiere was huge.

I was delighted to find that it was designed by Scott Pask - the gifted young designer who was responsible for the COT Orfeo in 2000 and Così fan tutte in 2002.  So that was a great start. 

And then the cast - the wonderful Isabel Leonard, COT's Zerlina in 2008, was a delectable Rosina, Alek Schrader, one of those winners in the Met competition in 2007 when I was on the final jury was the Almaviva, and the glorious rich and ripe Alessandro Corbelli, our Dandini at Glyndebourne for the 50th anniversary season in 1984, was the definitive Bartolo of our day.  And the Barber himself was the charming bouncy and still youthful Nathan Gunn, a generous friend to us at COT together with his wife Julie.

So I had a significant personal interest in all this - and what a treat it was also to see so many old friends and colleagues at Lyric yesterday evening.  I think I am going to have to make my visits to Toronto and Chicago in February an annual event!

1 month ago | |
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Chilly Chicago 2014

Park Grill, Chicago 12 noon February 25 2014

I went to an old favourite for lunch - the Park Grill.  It is really cold here today and even the skaters were put off by the temperature.  And the Park Grill was hardly its usual bustling self this Tuesday lunchtime.  But the burger was good and the fries to die for!  And it was great to have a good old gossip about Chicago music life with Jerry Fuller.....

Chilly Chicago 2014-2

And the Chicago skyline looking north up Michigan Avenue from Millennium Park this bright frigid afternoon was as gorgeous as ever.  And after lunch I returned north to Lakeview where I lived for the last ten years of my time here in Chicago, and had a little wander along the side of Belmont Harbor.  I think that they may have difficulty taking the plunge here (below) on March 2.  It is going to get colder before it melts....

Chilly Chicago 2014-3

1 month ago | |
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Today was a quick run around my old friends and colleagues in Chicago, as well as hearing  a handful of the excellent young artists at the Lyric Opera's Ryan Center. 

Lunch was with Gerard McBurney, star creator of Beyond the Score.  We went to the restaurant in the CSO's Symphony Center.  This is a new one - Rhapsody has been replaced by Tesori.  So it is American with an Italian accent this time.  And just as convenient if you are going to or coming from a concert at Orchestra Hall.

On coming in through the stage door of Lyric for the afternoon auditions I encountered three members of the cast of La clemenza di Tito about to go on stage for a piano run through. They urged me to pop in to the rehearsal when I was done with the auditions.....and so I did. 

I was there for ten minutes before their break (it always happens like that!) but saw enough to see that this is going to be a wonderful show.  There are three COT alums in the cast - Amanda Majeski, Cecelia Hall and Christian van Horn - as well as the peerless Joyce DiDonato as Sesto and, and in the title role Matthew Polenzani, fresh from his wonderful run in Manon in London. The Servilia is rising star from the Ryan Center Emily Birsan.  Andrew Davis, indefatigable as he is, conducts.  This is very much his thing.

The remainder of the day was a catch up over drinks with my dear colleague from COT days, Colleen Flanigan.  She is now a pillar of the Auditorium management team.  And then to beloved Kiki's Bistro for supper with another staunch supporter of our work at COT who has become like a family member.  It was great to see her.

I have a quieter day today - lunch with Jerry Fuller, and then the performance of Il barbiere di Siviglia at Lyric this evening.  Once again there is a great cast and the new production has been one of the hits of the Lyric's current season.  

And so back to London on the day flight tomorrow - much the most comfortable way to go.

1 month ago | |
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Four Seasons

The Four Seasons - COC's opera house 3:15 pm February 22 2014

I am now on my way back to Chicago after three happy days in Toronto.  Apart from the two performances already described I had the opportunity to hear most of the members of the Canadian Opera Company’s young artists program, as well as four from Montreal’s – there are some really hot prospects there – and most importantly to celebrate the 40th birthday yesterday of Alexander Neef, COC’s brilliant, and still very young, General Director.

It is heart warming to see this company doing so consistently well under Alexander’s leadership; and he has beside him the gifted even younger (just) German conductor Johannes Debus.  They were the subject of an excellent piece in Toronto Life which is an enjoyable read and gives a good sense of the energy and quality which characterizes this company.  Alas not everything is free these days but you can buy a copy on line to read on your PC, tablet or phone…….

I am looking forward to two busy days in Chicago before leaving for London on the day flight on Wednesday.

1 month ago | |
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