I wrote yesterday about things that were about to happen - and now I am telling you as it was!
Firstly Man Ray. This is a truly wonderful small show. There are iconic portraits that we all know - of Picasso and Matisse for example. But here we have the full range of what he did, with his lovers, his friends, his rolodex......and there is no chance for my non travelling American friends to see it apart from in Edinburgh (at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery from June 22 through the 1913 festival) and in Moscow (at the Pushkin Museum from mid-October this year to mid-January 2014).
But the book of the show is beautifully produced with the astonishing Lee Miller on the cover (left). Get the hardback version - or preferably get at your local bookshop if there are any left. You will love it for life. I DO have a wonderful local bookstore and have given up on other ways of buying books as a result. And Waterstones survives on many high streets.
If you are in the US get it here, likewise preferably at your local bookshop. But it is only published this very day in the US, so there may only be the one solution.
Secondly my early evening event at the Garrick. David Peppercorn was splendid last night, reminiscing about "provincial France in the 1950s and '60s". But in fact it was largely about Bordeaux and the Medoc, with some mischievous references to Burgundian Spanish practices. It was an entertaining insight into the subtle, and not so subtle, politics of the wine trade from a man who knows it inside out having been deeply involved in it professionally for 60 years. And probably for the whole of his so far 82 year life since his father was also an eminent English wine merchant - the crème de la crème indeed.
It was good to see him again - he was a habitué of Glyndebourne during all my years there - but that is a long time ago now!
This evening it is to Milton Keynes to see Lulu. I will report tomorrow if I have time before I leave for the dress rehearsal of Nabucco at the Royal Opera House.
Photo: Carl Van Vechten
Salvador Dali and Man Ray, Paris June 16 1934
There is an enthusiastically received exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery which I will visit this afternoon. This is Man Ray's Portraits.
‘Engrossing examination of his work as a portrait photographer... A
photographic tribute to one of the most desirable address books ever...
Everyone who was anyone in the interwar avant-garde... The most enticing
sequence of feminine portrayals in the whole of photography... Like all
really good shows, this one has a tangible final act’ - The Sunday Times, 10 February 2013
It will be a fascinating show - not least because of the images of the beautiful Lee Miller - she and her husband, Roland Penrose, lived nearby us in Sussex in a delightful farmhouse in Chiddingly.
And my early evening will be taken up with an encounter at the Garrick with David Peppercorn who will be talking to a few of us about Provincial France in the '50s and '60s. Those of you familiar with "France profonde" will know that it has not changed so much since then (thankfully!)
So I have a pleasing day off opera!
I have had a quiet weekend - I needed a break. And it is freezing out there. So I have battened down the hatches and stayed put. And got a lot of boring stuff done. There will be a jolly party at the Garrick tomorrow evening; and on Tuesday I am looking forward to a trip to see David Pountney's acclaimed new production of Lulu for the Welsh National Opera, of which he is now General and Artistic Director. The downside is that it means another expedition to the urban splendour (not) of Milton Keynes. But it is good to be able to get to see David's outstanding work without making an expensive trip to Cardiff.
Alas he will not be there on Tuesday - he is in Linz where he is directing the first production of Philip Glass's new opera The Lost which will open Europe's newest opera house on April 12. I guess he may be happier in Linz than in Milton Keynes. Linz was the birthplace of Bruckner, and gave its name to a Mozart Symphony.
Linz was founded by the Romans, and is a very beautiful city. Milton Keynes, as we now know it, was founded in 1967 as a "new city". And it is hideous! But its history is somewhat interesting - one could almost justify saying thats origins are found in the 11th century when it was known by the maiden name of the Duchess of Cambridge.
I am sorry folks! I am trying to be creative to keep you entertained on this slow news day.
The Polish people are held in great affection in London, as they are in my former home town of Chicago. There is a long history of Polish migration to England and an impressive record of distinguished service by Poles in our forces, particularly the Royal Air Force, during World War 2. The Polish Club in Exhibition Road bears witness to the ties between our countries and its restaurant is a warm welcoming place for delicious central European food.
So it is not surprising that there is prominent celebration of the centenary of Witold Lutoslawski who was born on January 25 1913. It is good to see that, in this year marking centenaries of Wagner, Verdi and Britten, this giant of 20th century music is appropriately honoured.
And London's Philharmonia Orchestra is duly stepping up with three major concert programmes, and many other associated events both pre and post concert. Esa-Pekka Salonen is the Philharmonia's Principal Conductor and he has conducted all these concerts, the last of which I was at last night. And Salonen has had a long association with Lutoslawski. You can see him featured in the video below.
We were treated to some wonderful playing; a magnificent performance of his 4th symphony which had been commissioned by the LA Philharmonic where Salonen was music director. The composer conducted the first performance in 1993 and Salonen recorded it with his orchestra the same year. We also heard Chain 2 with the remarkable Jennifer Koh; and Les espaces du sommeil with a rather uncertain Mathias Goerne.
The concert had started with Ravel (Suite Ma mère l'oye) and ended with more Ravel, a splendidly shattering performance of La valse!
The successor to Tony Hall was announced yesterday. He is Alex Beard, deputy director of the Tate. It seems to be a brilliant appointment - Lord Hall will be a hard act to follow but this guy seems to have it all and is at the right age to be able to stay the course for a good 15 years or more. This is so encouraging. The loss of Tony Hall to become Director General of the BBC was seen as a blow after his brilliant 12 year tenure which transformed the fortunes of the house in so many ways. But the Board have seized the opportunity and have found an outstanding guy at a bargain price!
As a member of the board of Glyndebourne Productions Ltd, the entity that governs Glyndebourne's operations (as opposed to being a Trustee of Glyndebourne Arts Trust) he will have a good knowledge and understanding of what it takes to achieve excellence in the opera sector. He has already demonstrated at the Tate his command of a very complex operation which is what the ROH most certainly is. And he plays the cello - so he is a musician! Seems perfect.
When Bruce Crawford took charge at the Met and Tony Hall took charge at the ROH there were sceptics - but how wrong they were. We all wish Alex Beard well. He will face challenges. Above all he will be ultimately responsible for quality of the work on the stage. He may have to make some critical appointments of artistic leaders at some point on his watch. Having been at the Royal Opera for outstanding productions of major contemporary works in recent weeks I would say that the house is in fantastic shape at the moment. So he has time!
Photo: Tristram Kenton
Barbara Hannigan (Agnès) and Christopher Purves (The Protector)
Much has been written about George Benjamin's new opera with libretto by Martin Crimp Written on Skin. I can add little to the heaps of praise it has received on its London debut in these last few days. I can only confirm my own impression of the absorbing magic of the score, the exquisite and excruciating beauty of the instrumentation and the vocal writing, the extraordinary eroticism of the love scenes between Agnès and the Boy, and the sensational performances from the three protagonists.
Barbara Hannigan is yet another exceptional Canadian singer and musician and actor - a former pupil of the distinguished and much loved Mary Morrison at the University of Toronto. If you have not yet seen this production be prepared for a performance from her unforgettable in its intensity of feeling, the beauty of her immaculately poised singing of this gorgeous music, and the total conviction of her assumption of the role of Agnès.
Christopher Purves and Bejun Mehta are no less remarkable in their investment and commitment. It is a superlative cast, with Allan Clayton and Victoria Simmonds completing the perfect line up. And the composer conducts........can say no more!
Katie Mitchell's production, which was premiered in Aix-en-Provence last summer, will be seen in Florence in May, Vienna in June, Munich in July, and Paris in November. If you have missed it in London make a huge effort to get to one of these remaining places. Don't wait until it crosses the Atlantic - when will that be I wonder? Maybe a trip to BAM and the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto would work.......
Photo: AFP Boris Horvat
Barbara Hannigan and Bejun Mehta (The Boy)
George Benjamin's opera, first performed in Aix-en-Provence last year, has arrived at the Royal Opera House. And it appears to be sold out - all performances. I have a ticket and will be there this evening. Our friend Alex Ross has a piece about it in the New Yorker published today. If you are a subscriber read it. If not - then subscribe!. It is the best magazine in the world - a big claim I know, but there it is!
It has been raining all day - miserable.
Photo: LA TimesThere is no doubt that The Gospel According to the Other Mary is a substantial work, billed as an oratorio - but a dramatic one indeed; its European first performance at the Barbican last night was a thrilling occasion. I think that we all felt privileged to be there - and those that arrived in time for the pre-concert event, at which Peter Sellars and John Adams spoke so eloquently, were doubly prepared for the evening that followed.There was an excellent introduction to the piece by Thomas May in the Barbican program. You can read it here - go to Page 9. And the John Adams website has more valuable information.Suffice to say - the performance was superb, the marvellous mezzos Kelley O'Connor and Tamara Mumford stunning as Mary and Martha, Russell Thomas vocally remarkable and extremely moving as Lazarus, a fine ensemble of countertenors and dancers, the exceptional Los Angeles Master Chorale, and the LA Philharmonic all welded together by an inspired and inspiring Gustavo Dudamel.
And Peter Sellars produced another of his persuasive and emotionally charged stagings, perfectly judged in every regard. This thing will endure there is no doubt. You can see it in Lucerne on Wednesday and in Paris on Saturday before heading to New York on March 27. But there will without doubt be future opportunities, though none could be finer that what we lived last night.
The Neue Stimmen 25th anniversary on Thursday evening was also for me a wonderful opportunity to meet with some old friends, one directly, the other somewhat vicariously. Let me explain!
The vicarious one first - in 1980 I made my first visit to China. I was wonderfully looked after by an official from the Chinese Ministry of Cultural Affairs - Mme Sun. She was a wonderful guide and interpreter, and became a good friend on subsequent visits and after she was posted to the Embassy in London. By chance I met the current Chinese cultural representative in Berlin, Chen Ping. And of course he knew well the now retired Mme Sun who was something of a legend it appears as far as International Cultural Relations were concerned. To meet in Berlin a friend and young colleague of my Chinese friend of 33 years ago was somehow rather magical. We will email and keep in touch - maybe I will be able to be in touch with Mme Sun when I am in Beijing in May.
My second, and direct, encounter was with Zenaida des Aubris - Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's right hand person when all those years ago (in 1976) Jean-Pierre became a friend of us all at Glyndebourne when he directed a marvellous Falstaff. Zenaida and I then met up for lunch yesterday at the excellent Aigner restaurant in the Gendarmenmarkt. This is the place for the best Wiener Schnitzel - and that is what we both enjoyed! I had not seen her for getting on for a decade so we had an animated catch-up. She is a blogger too so I had an idea what she had been up to. But the best stuff is not necessarily for publication!
On my way back to my hotel after lunch my left knee, which had been troubling me for a week or more, collapsed completely and I had to hop the last 50 yards to the hotel. An ice pack and ibuprofen had limited effect and it was with great difficulty that I got back to London. A good night's sleep reduced the pain by 25% and this morning I hobbled to the health centre just 50 yards from home. There is nothing mechanically wrong. We think it must be a side effect of the dreaded statins. My doctor will pronounce on Monday - meanwhile painkillers and rest appear to be keeping it under control.
But nothing will keep me away from the Barbican this evening. The Los Angeles Phil with Dudamel, John Adams and Peter Sellars, beckons. I will be there whatever - for the pre-concert event and for the excitement of The Gospel According to the Other Mary.
I am thrilled to hear that my really good friend and colleague from Chicago, Jim Gandre, has been appointed President of the Manhattan School of Music. This is a wonderful thing for Jim and for the Manhattan School. But he will be sorely missed in Chicago where he was a transforming influence, not only on the Chicago College of the Performing Arts of which he was Dean when he first arrived, but also on its parent body, Roosevelt University, where he has served as Provost for the last 5 years or so.
I guess I will take Sunday off. And on Monday Il will be at the Royal Opera for Written on Skin. There is always something exciting going on in London!
"Berkeley Rep scrutinized InstantEncore and the competition. We opted for IE and have no regrets. Designing our mobile site and app was affordable, collaborative, and on-time. We launched both, and we love them. We can’t wait to see what they do for the Theatre."