Jonas Kaufmann 'rummages for a hanky' during an extended interview to be broadcast on Radio 3's Music Matters this Saturday at 12.15pm.
*UPDATE* The ROH have published a digested version of the interview.
See, you don't need years of expensive music lessons. A cage of Asian small-clawed otters at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C. display their keyboard skills.
You want more?
The National Zoo has more.
I give you an orang utang on the xylophone:
and a sloth bear cub on the harmonica:
Horror legend Sir Christopher Lee has turned to opera for his new EP, Metal Knight.
The oldest Escamillo in town backs his classically-trained bass with heavy metal guitar for a unique take on the Toreador's March from Carmen (FF to 3:12 above to hear it). The 92-year old describes it as "an absolute killer to sing". Other songs on the EP are I Don Quixote and The Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha, and My Way.
It's far from the first time Sir Christopher has dipped his toe in operatic waters - listen out for his Weill, Verdi and Mussorgsky in the selection below.
Opera-going can be bad for your health. Especially if the composer is Richard Wagner and the opera is five hours long. "Prolonged sitting inhibits venous function, blood pools in the legs and they can swell. Also, the risk of thrombosis may increase, as in a long-haul flight"
So say Medi Gmbh, "one of the world's leading companies in the field of compression stocking supplies" and a sponsor of the Bayreuth Festival.
Those popsocks are a threat to more than good taste.
The answer is a big fat NO, according to a new survey commissioned by English Touring Opera.
The study of 234 operagoers "found that 81% of cinema opera attendees were over 60 years old, with an age profile slightly older than that typically found at live opera. In addition, the study indicates that attending a cinema broadcast of opera does not regularly inspire cinema-goers to attend live opera in a theatre, with 85% of respondents reporting no increased motivation to attend live after their cinema experience."
The survey covered only London, where live opera is available virtually seven nights a week. It's possible that viewers outside the capital, with less access to the real thing, might think differently.
Nevertheless it's hard to disagree with the conclusions of ETO’s general director James Conway: “A lot has been speculated about the potential for cinema relays to create new audiences for live opera. I would love that to be the case but, as this research indicates, it may be wishful thinking."
The Vienna State Opera are kindly giving Intermezzo readers the chance to try out their live streaming service (normally €14 a pop) for free.
The service, launched in late 2013, offers live opera broadcasts in Full HD. While you're watching, you can switch between the standard multicamera setup with close ups and a fixed full screen view (as if you're sitting in the auditorium). Multilingual subtitles are available on a separate device, and you can choose whether you start the stream live, or delay it for a few hours.
Here's the message from the Vienna State Opera:
"We would very much like to invite you as opera lovers and visitors of Intermezzo to try our new offer for free. Please write us an eMail to firstname.lastname@example.org, we will send you a voucher code to one of the upcoming broadcasts – Offenbachs “Les contes d’Hoffmann” on June 1, or Janacek's “The cunning little vixen” on June 30."
I strongly suggest you read the information page carefully and try the test-stream before you apply, as not all of the options are available with certain setups. It's possible to watch from any old tinny laptop, but a large TV screen, the Samsung Smart TV app, and/or an additional smartphone or tablet will allow you to take full advantage of all the features available.
To add to the indignity of having his La Scala contract trimmed from five years to one, Alexander Pereira must now take a pay cut.
The Italian government have approved a salary cap for employees of operatic and orchestral institutions, effective immediately. Nobody will be allowed to earn more than the President of the Supreme Court, currently €240,000. The cap, already in place in Italian theatres, applies to "members of the administration, management and control" and "employees, consultants and collaborators".
Pereira's agreed La Scala salary has been estimated as €460,000, meaning he will now take home roughly half of what he was originally promised. The cut will also hit Maria di Freda, General Manager of La Scala, though less severely - she's currently on €270,000. The Italian press don't mention any other affected individuals, and my own earlier research suggests that few other establishments pay as generously as La Scala. Despite the decree's generalised wording, it's not hard to interpret it as a political device targetting one institution and punishing one individual.
Whether Pereira could legally circumvent the restriction, tax-dodger style, by taking some of the lost pay as, say, 'expenses' remains to be seen. Whether La Scala would want to take part in that sort of arrangement is questionable though. They may welcome the opportunity to save a bit of money too.
When his contract chop was announced, Pereira came out fighting, determined to prove it should be extended. With only half the original pay in prospect, will he be so willing to stay?
What a brilliant idea.
Click on the interactive version of the above map to find opera and classical music festivals all over Europe this summer.
An opera review from the Daily Telegraph of 21 May 1914:
Yesterday's Bayreuth Festival free Open Day - only the second in the festival's history - attracted over 4,000 visitors from all over Germany and beyond.
Amongst the rehearsals and make-up demos, the most popular attraction by far turned out to be the rats from Lohengrin. Four brave souls donned the masks and rubber costumes for the whole afternoon, during which they were photographed "200 to 300 times" said a weary rodent. Visitors were invited to touch the neoprene costumes with their rubber feet and tails - "through our grid masks we could see many happy faces".
Festival spokesman Peter Emmerich said they were pleased with the day's success, and would look at repeating it next year.
"We have been very happy with our decision to use InstantEncore for our mobile app. The app is easy to use and a great way to connect with our patrons. The InstantEncore team also provides great support with helpful blog posts and quick email response."