Brunjes will remain in the role until a permanent replacement can be found
Following the resignation of English National Opera’s chairman Martyn Rose, ENO has today announced that Dr Harry Brunjes is to replace him as acting chair. Brunjes has been on ENO’s board as a non-executive trustee for the past five years. He will remain in place until a full-time replacement is found for Rose, who had been in the unpaid voluntary role for two years, and will step down on 15 February.
The past year has been a difficult one for ENO, with a large cut in its Arts Council public funding prompting among other things the cancellation of a production of Orfeo planned for Bristol Old Vic. Speaking on behalf of the board, Dr Brunjes said “Martyn has led the organisation successfully through a very demanding period … Now that our plans for the future are agreed and ready for review by Arts Council England our focus must be on the execution of these plans.”
Royal Opera House, LondonDavid McVicar’s new production wisely plays Giordano’s opera straight; Jonas Kaufmann and Željko Lucic are both superb although Eva-Maria Webroek’s voice took time to settle
The dropcloth for David McVicar’s new production of Andrea Chénier shows a bloody tricolour daubed with the words “Even Plato banned poets from his Republic” – written by Robespierre on the death warrant of the historical Chénier, a poet and journalist sent to the guillotine in 1794 for criticising France’s post-revolutionary government. Giordano’s 1896 opera, loosely based on the events that led to his execution, constitutes a demand for individualism that retains its clout: hearing it in the wake of the terrorist attacks in France is to be reminded once more of its relevance.
Given that it deals with lives caught up in a specific flashpoint in history, the opera works best when played straight, and McVicar wisely refrains from interpretative glosses. Giordanos’s distaste for ancien régime kitsch, his distrust of mass politicalmovements and his exploration of the creepy elation with which fervour tips into fanaticism are all realised with unfussy clarity. When Jonas Kaufmann’s Chénier calls for the replacement of systemic injustice with humanitarian values, his idealism is shown to be a disturbing political force that makes him dangerous to those round him. McVicar’s only lapse is the decision to turn the first-act pastoral into a big pas de deux after the fashion of Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon, which strikes a false note in a staging that otherwise prides itself on its attention to historical detail.
A ‘revolutionary’ piano, created by Hungarian pianist Gergely Bogányi, promises ‘sound beyond time’. What does that even mean?
Lost in Thought aims to ‘stretch the boundaries of what opera can be’, which seemingly includes ‘a yoga session’
Name: Lost in Thought.
City Halls, GlasgowThe Dane’s music contains much quiet mystique and evocation but never dodges the point
The great British conductor is 60 years old today. We celebrate with 10 highlights from a career that has transformed musical life in Birmingham, in Berlin, and pretty well wherever else Rattle has lifted his baton.
From catalysing the building of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall in the early 1990s - still the UK’s finest concert hall for orchestras, to transforming the identity of the Berliner Philharmonic at the Philharmonie and engaging with Berlin’s communities and audiences in completely new ways, it’s almost impossible to imagine orchestral music and the idea of what an orchestra could and should be in the 21st century without Simon Rattle’s example and inspiration. Above all, that’s thanks to the essential concerts and recordings he has led and made in his career – a handful of which are below.
Mahler 2, CBSO, Symphony Hall, 1998
The soprano tells us about her musical tastes on and off the opera stage
How do you listen to music?
At home I almost always listen to vinyl records. I love the sound quality of vinyl: my husband has a huge collection, which is expanding almost every day. On the road, I mostly listen to music on my iPad.
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