New York's Metropolitan Opera is gearing up to launch Wagner's complete Ring cycle, but just how "revolutionary" is the $16 million, 45-ton production? New York Times' Anthony Tommasini talks with Met GM Peter Gelb about the embattled Robert Le Page production, a conversation Parterre Box views as "damage control" on Gelb's part. Meanwhile, those who can't make it to the Big Apple can watch the much-discussed Ring in local movie theaters.
Concert prices just got way cheaper for regular patrons of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Sign up as a member and attend one performance of each program next season and your tickets could cost less than two bucks per concert.
Last week, we noted that the Louisville Orchestra musicians had agreed to binding arbitration to resolve their contract disputes. Orchestra officials have since apparently rejected that offer. Now the orchestra's CEO Robert Birman says he will hire new musicians to replace those embroiled in the messy negotiations. He wants to have an orchestra together by September. Musicians are crying foul.
Now that's early music: A team of archeologists uncovered the remains of a 2,300 year-old lyre in a cave on Scotland's Isle of Skye. They believe the recovered section of a wooden bridge to be the oldest string instrument found in Western Europe and further proof, says a local cultural historian, of the "continuity of a love for music amongst the Western Celts."
So much for the Scots love of classical music. The Scotsman newspaper reports that audience numbers for established organizations like the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Scottish Ballet and the Scottish Opera, among others, are dropping precipitously. Figures for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, for instance, are down 31 percent in four years. That's got to be sobering news for Robin Ticciati, the mega-talented 28-year-old conductor of the SCO, who tells the Guardian's Ivan Hewett how he got his start.
Video of the week: New York Philharmonic conductor Alan Gilbert (with the help of some very cool motion capture animation) decodes the art of conducting. On one hand, Gilbert feels there's no clear answer to why conducting works. On the other, he says, "There is a connection between the gesture, the physical presense, the aura, that a conductor can project and what the musicians produce."
Another musical find gets a belated performance next Tuesday in Israel. Paul Ben-Haim's grand oratorio Joram was buried for decades in a box of the composer's personal papers and discovered by his biographer. Written in 1933 in Munich, the oratorio had no chance of a performance after the rise of the Nazis. The piece got its belated official premiere in Munich in 2008, but has never been heard in Israel, Ben-Haim's adopted home, until now.
Britten Stays in Britain: An early manuscript of Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra will not be leaving its home country. After a foreigner outbid the British Library for the rare manuscript, a British culture minister issued an export ban on the autographed score, exercising a rule that allows British institutions the right for a two-month period to match the bid, which the Library did.
Philip Glass might just knock Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture out of the ring. The popular minimalist composer is writing a new piece, Overture for 2012, to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Marin Alsop will conduct the world premiere with her Baltimore Symphony Orchestra June 17th.
Malaysia is in a tiff over tutus. A ballet troupe from Singapore has had its production of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker cancelled in Kuala Lampur due to what some are calling "indecent costumes" and others are calling a bureaucratic snafu.
It ain't necessarily new. That's what the Tony Awards committee seems to be saying about the text (the "book" in Broadway parlance) of the current and massively popular Broadway show The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, adapted from the original Porgy and Bess by the Gershwin brothers and DuBose Heyward. The producers of the show disagree.
Bienvenidos Maestro Eschenbach. Washington, D.C.'s National Symphony Orchestra has announced its first international tour under music director Christoph Eschenbach. He'll take the orchestra to a variety of spots in Latin America in June, including Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.
Could Vesselina Kassarova call it quits? No, but the hard-working mezzo-soprano declares that the road to success is paved with sacrifices, saying, "Sometimes when I think of all that I do for my voice, I think I don't want to go on." She also complains about not having ice cubes in her drinks.
Ah, April Fools. That was so four days ago. Jessica Duchen almost had me tricked when she reported on stringent new standards for classical critics. Then there was Naomi Lewin's startling news about a new Beethoven discovery. And finally, a much anticipated album release from EMI, as noted by Alex Ross.
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