It has been a pretty frantic few days back in London before I take off again to Gothenberg tomorrow early morninng. So this is a quick round up.
I greatly enjoyed the Poliuto at Glyndebourne on Sunday. I found the production much more interesting than the press reviews had indicated, and the singing rather less amazing than likewise forecast. I guess it is often a matter of managing expectations! In any case I am always delighted to see an opera for the first time, in this case particularly since I had enjoyed the French version Les Martyrs so much when it was given a concert performance by Opera Rara in the Royal Festival Hall earlier in the season. And the recently issued recording made in the days prior to the splendid concert is well worth getting.
But back to Glyndebourne - of course the voices were wonderful with a really well chosen cast of exceptional young voices. But the art of bel canto is elusive these days - with the finest "singing" coming from Matthew Rose, and the other magnificent voices not, for me, quite getting to the heart of the style. But it was a great Glyndebourne evening and a "must see" for all truly curious about our art form!
Tuesday brought me back to earth with a long list for Neue Stimmen at the ever hospitable Royal Opera House. I think that we will have a couple of qualifiers there, with a significant number of additions to the waiting list.
I am in Gothenburg tomorrow, and on to Munich for auditions there on Saturday and Sunday. After that we should be in a position to tackle the waiting list........
This evening I am at the Queen of Spades at English National Opera. The new production has been warmly received so I think we are in for an absorbing evening.
© Donald Cooper/ENO
Peter Hoare and Felicity Palmer in ENO's Queen of Spades June 2015
And I have taken two days off the blog.......I have earned it!
I am now at the Royal Opera House waiting for the start of the London Neue Stimmen auditions. We have 40 today. I will write about my Glyndebourne visit to Poliuto when I have time tomorrow........but for now it is all go.
It has been a wonderful two weeks here in Montreal for the Voice edition of their International Music Competition. The organisation has been superb and the hospitality unmatched. Everyone fortunate enough to have been involved here will have gone away appreciating the warmth of the Canadian welcome.
As for the prize winners - well there were more awards announced yesterday evening, notably for the exceptional French soprano Anaïs Constans who scooped the Song Prize and the prize for the best semi-final recital. She eventually walked away with $9,500 - not bad for a runner up. She was particularly delighted that her excellence in the song repertoire was recognised. She now goes off to Cardiff where she should do very well.
The audience prize went to the 2nd prize winner, Hyesang Park. This lovely voice and personality captured the audience on her every appearance. She has just graduated from Juilliard and will be in the Met's Lindemann programme from next season. Only 26 years old she is well on her way..........
I fly to London this evening.
The whole company of contestants, jury, management, staff and board members, also sponsors and other generous friends of the Montreal Competition, had an evening to remember at André Bourbeau's lovely farm in Dunham, an 80 kilometre ride from Montreal. It was a glorious evening to be out in the country, and the Bourbeaus' warm generosity in hosting this motley crew was a wonderful end to the two weeks of competition.
The real final event is this evening, a gala concert preceded by the announcement of the remaining prizes and the official awards ceremony. At the concert all the finalists will sing again, the winner three arias, the second and third placed two each, and the runners up one each. It will be a lovely showcase of the best of these young people. The Canadian Opera Company's Johannes Debus will conduct the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
And thus I will come to the end of my five week round the world trip. I fly back to London tomorrow evening, and am crazy enough to have planned a visit to Glyndebourne to see Poliuto on Sunday......
Keonwoo Kim with Sumi Jo after winning the First Prize
What an evening we had - and what a close race to the end! The second, third and fourth places were separated by a whisker - but the winner was decisively ahead after a magnificent final effort at the end of the evening. But there may be consolation ahead - the winners of the Audience Prize, the Song Prize and the prize for the best semi-final recital will be announced tomorrow evening at the gala concert so there may be more happy people around the corner! There is a total of a further $28,500 to be doled out!
The winner last night, Keonwoo Kim, started with Comfort ye - Every valley..... from the Messiah. His English was perfect, every word clear and accurate. He went on with arias from Les pêcheurs de perles and Roméo et Juliette, plus fireworks from La Cenerentola and immaculately sung Donizetti from La favorita.
Another Korean favourite on Tuesday evening, Hyesang Park, had brought the house down with her performances of Mozart, Gounod, and Rachmaninov. And also the Mad scene from Lucia di Lammermoor - a glorious voice and stunning presence. But she was eventually overtaken by her elder compatriot. But she is destined for great things - of that there is no doubt.
And third place went to the Quebecer France Bellemare whose smartly chosen programme last night showed her at her best - and very persuasive she was too in Les nuits d'été, the Countess, Micaela, and Mimi.
We will be hearing much more of these young people as well as of some of the unsuccessful finalists, and indeed semi-finalists. In the end it was a really strong turn out with the winners each likely to have been winners at Neue Stimmen later this year - but they are not competing!
The evening was preceded by an appearance by Richard Martet, founder and editor of the French Opéra Magazine - hosted and animated by Sylvia L'Ecuyer. The enthusiasm and knowledge of these two people was a delight to witness - and their subject, Great Voices of Quebec, provided us with the opportunity to remember the remarkable sequence of internationally renowned singers from this part of Canada over the years.
Richard Martet and Sylvia L'Ecuyer in conversation
This evening we are all making an expedition to the country home of André Bourbeau our Jury Chairman who is also co-founder, with Joseph Rouleau. of this competition. It is the lobster season and there will be a bonfire. back by midnight!
© Antoine Saito
top: David Agler, Wolfgang Holzmair, André Bourbeau (Chairman) Joseph Rouleau, BD, Richard Bonynge
Sitting: Birgitta Svendén, Marilyn Horne, Edda Moser, Sumi Jo
The jury (above) have done their job. Here is the press release of this evening:
SOUTH KOREAN TENOR KEONWOO KIM WINS FIRST PRIZEOF THE MONTREAL INTERNATIONAL MUSICAL COMPETITION— Quebecer soprano France Bellemare among top three —
Montreal, June 3, 2015 – Following ten days of intense high-level competition, the Montreal International Musical Competition (MIMC) culminated this evening with the announcement of the top three prizewinners of its 2015 Voice edition. All other prizes will be announced at the official awards ceremony that will take place before the Gala Concert, on June 5.
1st PRIZE ? $30,000Offered by the Ville de Montréal
2nd PRIZE ? $15,000Offered by Canimex
3rd PRIZE ? $10,000Offered by Cogeco
Keonwoo KIM, tenorSouth Korea
Hyesang PARK, sopranoSouth Korea
France BELLEMARE, sopranoCanada
" I take my hat off to all six young singers. They superbly mastered the challenging task of this Final round. I thank Orchestre symphonique de Montréal musicians for being such supportive partners in this true ‘tour de force’ through vocal repertoire" declared Maestro Johannes Debus, who made his Montreal debut this week at the MIMC.Following the Quarter-final round in which 23 singers from nine countries competed at Salle Bourgie between May 25 and 27, twelve semi-finalists from six countries took the same stage on May 29 and 30. Six of them performed with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal during the Finals on June 2 and 3 at the Maison symphonique de Montréal.Don't miss the closing Gala Concert at the Maison symphonique on June 5 at 7:30 pm; the laureates will perform with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal under the direction of Johannes Debus right after the official awards ceremony.The Gala Concert musical programme will be available on the eve of the concert on the MIMC website : http://concoursmontreal.ca/en/programming
I will comment further tomorrow (Thursday) morning!
Dennis Trudeau, Marilyn Horne, Richard Bonynge and Joseph Rouleau
The first evening of the finals was preceded by a totally delightful improvised public meeting of three colleagues who worked together for many decades. And this reminiscence session was moderated in masterly fashion by Dennis Trudeau. The palpable affection of this trio for each other, and their gratitude for lives and careers well lived, was a tonic for us all lucky enough to have been there. So this was a good start to the evening!
The finals are in the new Montreal Symphony Hall - a very beautiful room which reminds one of the Four Seasons Opera House in Toronto. The same Architect with his finger prints all over it - Jack Diamond. It is clearly a great success, as is the Toronto headquarters of the Canadian Opera Company. Jack strikes again!
The process of the Montreal International Competition for Voice is very thorough. The finalist are intensely scrutinised over no less than 90 minutes of singing. There is no escape and anyone who survives such in depth examination is something of a champion. It really does sort them out. We heard three brave souls last night, and the final three will be put to the test this evening. All I can say now is that will be a close run thing for the top three places.........yesterday evening it was clear that there is great quality here.
We will know the result by 11 pm.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts 11 am June 2 2015
The Rodin show at the Museum of Fine Arts is obligatory, and you can have a virtual visit by going to the excellent guide provided by the museum - just go to www.mmfarodin.com. Now below is small taste........
Death of Adonis
Inside the Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal
A day off yesterday gave me time to go back to see the inside of the basilica illustrated in yesterday's posting. And it was a real surprise! And by the way it continues to amaze me that the iPhone 6 camera can do such a fine job........I am leaving all my heavier stuff at home in London. This does the job for the blog quite well.
We have the first evening of the finals today - a thorough test of three of the finalists with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra conducted by Johannes Debus. I will spend some time this morning seeing the just opened Rodin exhibition at the MFA. And before the evening's event there will be the pleasure of seeing Marilyn Horne, Joseph Rouleau, and Richard Bonynge reminiscing about their long parallel careers - octogenarians all! This is at 6pm in the Allegro Foyer of the new Montreal Symphony Hall. I am looking forward to seeing, for the first time, this concert hall which opened in 2011.
Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal - 9:45 pm May 31 2015
An evening in old Montreal at dinner with Sylvia L'Ecuyer was a special treat. Sylvia, a veteran of Radio Canada/CBC, is here in Montreal for the Voice competition. She now lives in Vancouver where her neighbour is David Agler. Canada is a large country geographically but our music and opera world is small - the three of us took this opportunity to get together. This is a hospitable place!
Today is a complete day off - but the museums are closed on Mondays and it is raining steadily with the temperature down to 15 from its high of 30 degrees C on Saturday. Disappointing!
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