A multi-date celebration of Pierre Boulez's 90th birthday is one of the the highlights of a largely dreary and predictable 2014-15 classical music season from the Barbican. Yes, we love Kissin, Perahia and DiDonato, but how about a bit more variety? Visiting orchestras are thin on the ground too, with just the New York Philharmonic to add to the already-announced Berlin Philharmonic. If the Barbican want to know why their visitor numbers are down they should stop blaming 'the economy' and start looking a little closer to home.
Operatic must-sees include concert versions of L’incoronazione di Poppea on 4 October 2014 (Anna Caterina Antonacci, Sarah Connolly, Iestyn Davies), Handel's Alcina on 10 October 2014 (Joyce DiDonato, Alice Coote, Anna Christie, Christine Rice) and Hercules on 4 March 2015 (Matthew Rose, Alice Coote, Lucy Crowe). Boris Godunov on 3 November 2014, conducted by Gergiev, is the highlight of a short Mariinsky residency.
A more high risk proposition is a choreographed staging of two Rameau ballets by Les Arts Florissants on 18 November 2014.
As this season, much of the more interesting programming comes from the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Unsuk Chin's Alice in Wonderland on 8 March 2015, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle on 13 March 2015 and Smetana's Dalibor on 2 May 2015 add to some orchestral offerings you don't hear every day.
On top of his Berlin Philharmonic residency, Sir Simon Rattle makes four appearances with the LSO, including one with Krystian Zimerman on 2 July 2015. Only Gergiev conducts them more next year. Make of that what you will. Haitink's Bruckner 8 on 23 October 2014 offers a counterbalance.
Online booking opens on 27 January for members and 10 February for the general public. No dates have been given for telephone/in-person booking, but they are usually later.
DiscountTheatre.com are currently offering 40% off Rigoletto and 29% off Peter Grimes (Dress and Upper Circle only). These aren't huge discounts by ENO standards, but you do at least get to pick your own seat (from a limited allocation). And the postage fee (£2.25) is less than the ENO's own £3.50 charge.
Be warned however that the Peter Grimes seats are nearly all in the back rows. While the website describes them as "perfect if you want a clear view" and "giving you a sense of the bigger picture", they in fact cut off the top part of the stage, meaning there is no view of the surtitles. I also noticed that the Upper Circle prices (original and discounted) had been marked up to Dress Circle levels in some cases, as shown above.
The Rigoletto allocation, which seems to be mostly in the middle of the side blocks, doesn't share these problems.
Leipzig Opera have just reported a record year in 2013. 73.8% of seats were filled for opera performances, a massive jump from the previous year's 51%.
The Wagner anniversary celebrations did particularly well. With a Ring cycle on offer, it may be surprising that the most popular show overall was Wagner's obscure first opera. Die Feen hit 99% capacity - a signal perhaps that it deserves a chance in other houses too.
Top price stalls and stalls circle tickets for Manon are going for a mere £80 (from £150-160) with a new Evening Standard offer.
Book on the ROH website, using the code esmanon. Don't log in first, or the discount may not appear.
The discount is valid on 24 and 31 Jan and 4 Feb only.
Gazillions still left, so don't all rush at once.
(Thanks to reader Richard.)
This is the statue of soprano Rosa Ponselle on the facade of the I Miller Building in Times Square, where she was chosen to represent opera alongside her fellow stars of stage, screen and musical comedy. After a recent spruce-up, she's looking almost as good as she did on the day she ascended her pedestal in 1928. Read the full story on ScoutingNY.com.
Jonas Kaufmann is out of tonight's La forza del destino in Munich due to unspecified "illness". So it's lucky the cameras were there to record him in all his glory on 28 December:
In just two years at the head of the Salzburg Festival, Alexander Pereira has run the coffers down to zero says festival president Helga Rabl-Stadler. Despite strong ticket sales and increased sponsorship, he had to dig into four million euros of reserves to support his ambitious expansion plans . This leaves future festival directors without any financial safety cushion, and is bound to influence any proposals for more adventurous, less commercial programming.
The festival has only avoided reporting a loss because accounting rules allow opera productions to be depreciated over several years, meaning Pereira's expenditure is set against future income.
No prizes if you guessed conducting, but the first violins suffer more than most too.
That's according to a new study which examined the stress reactions in conductor and musicians of the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna.
Blood samples taken after a performance showed that the first violinists and the conductor had higher stress indicator levels than all the other musicians put together.
The musicians' ability to do their job (including health and work situation) had no influence on the results. But a good mood did. The sunnier they felt before the concert, the lower the rise in stress.
So the message to musicians is - cheer up, or switch to flute.
Erik Satie's notorious Vexations has inspired the design of a new house to be built in Stoke Newington. The composer suggested the work's few lines should be repeated 840 times, turning each rare performance into a full day marathon. This generated the plan for a sculptural, unresolved spiral form.
Architects Chance de Silva collaborated with electronic musician Scanner on the project, known as Vex.
Scanner said: “The Vex collaboration is very exciting. I’m using software that displays a photo of the sound, rather like a scan of an unborn baby, but it offers a detailed topological map of the sound in 2D or 3D.
“I’m putting the music and sounds through this to create shapes, designs and patterns that can incorporated in the final physical design, so even the concrete pattern will be influenced by the sound.
“I’m taking the original piece of music by Erik Satie, which was to last 18 hours, and playing around with the harmonies and melodies, stretching it, seeing what is possible digitally and composing something that will always live inside the house, but can be switched on and off. It’s going to be a case of fine-tuning the music to the frequency of the building.”
Building work is expected to start this summer, and yes, it will be for sale.
Two years ago, Juan Diego Flórez had to dash off and sing at the Met just minutes after the birth of his first child. Second time round he could take it easy. He writes on Facebook:
"We are blessed and forever grateful to have witnessed yet again the miracle of birth of our second little angel, Lucia Stella. She was born today, 1st of January, in the loving and calm atmosphere of our home in Pesaro, Italy. With love and thanks to all for your kind support and good wishes, Julia and Juan Diego Flórez"
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