Classical Music Buzz > Brian Dickie
Brian Dickie
Life after 50 years in opera and still counting......
2702 Entries

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We had off on Sunday and this gave us the opportunity to get out of town just a little way to get a deeper flavour of this wonderful country that is Georgia.  Of course it was only possible to scratch the surface - so an extended visit to Georgia is on my list for the future when I have a little more leisure time!  We were indebted to Sophie Gordeladze and her family for arranging a trip that took in three remarkable old churches as well as a vineyard with its accompanying chateau with modern wine making apparatus and splendid cellars.

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This included visits to Mtskheta and Shio Mgvime - as well as to Chateau Mukhrani.  

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My computer is back to running on empty - so I will have to report on Izmir when I get to Berlin this evening and can retrieve my power supply!

4 months ago |
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I will get power back to my computer today and hope to catch up with th blog this evening. Meanwhile here we are in Turkey. And this not a bad view with which to greet the morning from my hotel room.  

We have a full day of auditions starting at 10 a.m.  More later hen I don't have to fiddle around on a mini screen with my chunky fingers!

4 months ago |
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I left the power to my computer in Munich so blogging will be somewhat restricted until I get it back or replace it. 

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We had our Tbilisi auditions yesterday and now we can enjoy ourselves. Torrential rain yesterday afternoon was a bit of a blight but with Ines Koring, Nana Sharikadze who looks after international relations at the conservatory, and Sophie Gordeladze, we made an expedition to a splendid restaurant with a spectacular view over Tbilisi. It was a delicious feast washed down with superb Georgian wine - we made it safely to the bottom on the funicular which seems to be the only way to get there......if you are ever in Tbilisi don't miss out on this treat!

We have a day off today before leaving for Turkey tomorrow. Our wonderful hosts will take us out of town to see more of this beautiful country. 

4 months ago |
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TbilisiOld Tbilisi on my last visit there in 2015

We had two long days of auditions in Munich - 100 singers in the end showed up.  And 4% of them qualified for the finals - i.e. 4!  So that is par for the course given that we need 44 from 1,000.  There were some good reserves too but still not enough men, and more excellent sopranos than we can possibly handle.  

I am off today to Tbilisi with Ines Koring, our project manager.  That will be much more relaxed.  And Tbilisi is a delicious place - there will be some time to enjoy it.  Its a long journey via Istanbul - and a two hour time change.

Meanwhile we will be enjoying the results of the UK election!

4 months ago |
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887erick_labbePhoto: Erick Labbé

Robert Lepage in 887

So I have had a just a handful of days back in London before leaving today for Munich.  And I managed to cram in attendance on Sunday afternoon at the remarkable Robert Lepage autobiographical show at the Barbican.  It is on until June 10 only but you might be able to catch it in Amsterdam in 10 days time.....

The man is a miracle - and I am so fortunate to have worked with him all those years ago, a quarter of a century in fact, in 1993 when he directed his first operas - for us at the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto - the Double Bill of Bluebeard's Castle and Erwartung which we then took to the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Edinburgh Festival.  That was one of my proudest achievements!  Actually I had tried to get him to do The Ring as his debut in the opera house.  He sensibly chose my alternative option as a better starter project.  Of course he eventually did it at the Met........

And so time goes on, and Robert is continuously making his magic.

We are faced with two long days tomorrow and Thursday in Munich - 10 am to 7 pm at the Gasteig.  Evamaria Wieser will join me on Thursday.  Her Salzburg duties are keeping her there tomorrow.

4 months ago |
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ValenciaThis Calatrava Palau is one hell of a building and goodness knows what it costs to maintain, clean and air condition -- let alone provide performances.  But it is clearly a huge success as likely to be a destination as the Sydney Opera House and The Guggenheim in Bilbao.

I had my auditions yesterday in the smallest of the three performance spaces, the Teatro Martin i Soler, where this evening there will be the opening of a new production of The Turn of the Screw.  It was a perfect audition place, with an acoustic which is honest, not wildly helpful to the singers but very helpful to a critical listener who might be deceived by anything too flattering!  

There was a mix of candidates including a job lot of young Finnish singers who appear to have made the trip together - very enterprising of them. And a handful of excellent Mexicans and Venezuelans, plus the odd Russian and Ukrainian.

And of course there were some Spanish singers - only two, but they were the best of the lot and both completely unknown to the powers that be in Valencia.  Not any longer!  So these auditions served more than the purposes of Neue Stimmen.

The three hour session ended at two and I was then treated by our hugely helpful host, David Cuesta, one of those powers that be, to an extensive tour of the remarkable building.  And then a late lunch in the exceptional restaurant attached to the Palau, Contrapunto.  

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After lunch I had a short walk around the rest of this extraordinary complex of buildings, and so back to my hotel for a tidy up before leaving for the airport.  A message from Easyjet that my flight was delayed for an hour was a downer - but in the event we were only half an hour late into Gatwick and I scrambled on to the last direct train of the night to Clapham Junction. Home just after midnight......

I will have a weekend at home and then off again on Tuesday for nearly two weeks - first stop Munich.

4 months ago |
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Gulbenkian
I had some time free yesterday afternoon in Lisbon and passed a happy 90 minutes in the Gulbenkian museum. The collections are so rich that a day is scarcely enough to do them justice.  I find that repeated visits of 60-90 minutes are more satisfying - thus my habit of subscribing to membership in the cities I have lived in.  The Chicago Art Institute had my dollars and I get value for money for my subscriptions in London to the Royal Academy and the Tate. Anyway my 5 Euro admission to the Gulbenkian was a bargain when confronted by the riches of the Founder's  collection.

If you are in Lisbon do make time for thugs treat - take the subway to San Sebastião on the blue or red line and its a short walk.

I got to Valencia last night rather late and stayed in the convenient and comfortable NH hotel near the Palau.  I will write about today's auditions on the flight home tonight. Suffice to say for now that the best singers were Spanish which makes a change!  I was very happy!

4 months ago |
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Sao CarlosSão Carlos opera house, Lisbon May 30 2017

Peter Grimes arrived in Lisbon last night for the first time in 23 years - and a grand evening it was, demonstrating the strengths of the chorus and orchestra of this fine theatre, as well as the skills of the technical staff who mounted David Alden's now famous production of of the piece without a hitch.  And there was distinguished participation from Portuguese singers of all ages, each singing in perfect English - exemplary.  

Carlos Guilherme was the splendid septuagenarian Rev Horace Adams as the senior member of the local team, with two excellent nieces Barbara Barradas and Mariana Castello-Branco representing youth. Maria Luisa de Freitas was a formidable Mrs Sedley.  João Merino (Ned Keene) and Nuno Dias (Hobson) completed the Portuguese complement.

John Graham-Hall already has the title role at La Scala to his credit and he was increasingly impressive as the evening progressed, stunning in the final scene.  This is Pears rather than Vickers - and would have been greatly approved of by the composer! It was great to see him, and Jonathan Summers also - another 70 year old showing his experience with an authoritative Balstrode.

Graeme Jenkins did a magnificent job with this opera which he knows so intimately.  An excellent evening of music making all round in the framework of David Alden's powerful production.

I am spending the day in Lisbon before leaving for Valencia this evening.  My Neue Stimmen auditions there begin at the gentle hour of 11 am tomorrow - and will be completed in time for a late Spanish lunch.

4 months ago |
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Lisbon waterside

I spent a happy morning on and around the Lisbon waterfront by the Praça do Comércio, a spectacular open public space.  It has been aa beautiful morning, quite warm, maybe 75 degrees F, with a refreshing breeze - a contrast to the setting of Peter Grimes to which I am greatly looking forward this evening.  There will be a number of old friends there both on and off the stage - the notable singers being John Graham-Hall in the title role, and Jonathan Summers as Balstrode - Glyndebourne "veterans", two artists of substantial class whose resilience has ensured long and distinguished careers.

With David Alden's wonderful production seen not so long ago at ENO and Graeme Jenkins in the pit, we are looking forward to a thrilling evening.......more later!

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4 months ago |
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Tate HockneyTate Britain 9 am May 28 2017

For us Glyndebourneites of the 1970s David Hockney was a hero and a friend - and a fantastic colleague.  He designed two famous productions for us (God help us it was 40 plus years ago!) - The Rake's Progress in 1975 and Die Zauberflöte in 1978.  Both were directed by John Cox who featured in yesterday's post.

It was a treat to go this morning, at long last, to the exceptional show at Tate Britain.  And showing up at 8 am flourishing my member's card was the smartest solution.  Apparently this is the most successful show EVER at the Tate - or so they told me.  And after all the stories I heard from others about the crush and the fact that it is completely sold out right to the last day (tomorrow!) the only thing was to get there early.  There were about 50 others there at 8.  So it was paradise to walk through the rooms at leisure without the usual problems of - yes - people!

My Parisian and New York friends must not miss it when it arrives at the Pompidou and the Met is due course.

I am off to Lisbon tomorrow morning early.  David Alden's production of Peter Grimes opens at the São Carlos on Tuesday, and I then go on to Valencia on Wednesday evening for Neue Stimmen auditions there on Thursday.  Full reports on both these activities in due course!

4 months ago |
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