A jolly personage came smiling up to me, shook my hand vigorously, introduced himself as Peter Sellars ‘80, and asked for twenty-five dollars from the Master’s Fund to clean up and paint an old basement storage room so that it could be used as a theater. At first I thought he was kidding, but it quickly became clear to me that despite deferential giggles and guffaws he was in earnest. So I figured, twenty-five bucks, what can I lose? But little did I imagine what Adams House and the college were about to gain! Within days, the dungeon-like space was cleaned, painted, and lighted. Not very well lighted, but there were a light bulb and two small dirty windows looking out at people’s feet passing up and down Plympton Street. Soon those feet were headed to Explosives B, the new Adams House theater, seating capacity a comfortable twenty or an uncomfortable forty sitting on mattresses left over from storage. The first production, if I remember correctly, was a Polish satire that involved an enormous hand made of plywood that kept entering menacingly from the only door.
One week ago, as OC was celebrating with Maestro Riccardo Muti his 2011 Birgit Nilsson Foundation Prize victory, she fell madly in love with Stockholm and its fresh herring, striking blonds, and crisp-white light. Here are some musical highlights from her camera, more found in her facebook.
The lobby of the Royal Swedish Opera was running an exhibition of 12 images from Birgit Nilsson's career performances on the RSO stage.
Shots from the press conference with Maestro Riccardo Muti, the managing director of the RSO Birgitta Svendén and president of the Birgit Nilsson Foundation Dr. Prof. Rutberg Reisch.
Thanks to Black Swan, 2011 is the year of ballet. Russian Vogue features prima ballerina Diana Vishneva of the Mariinsky Theatre - Kirov Ballet in a photo feature, modelling a wardrobe by Lanvin, Proenza Schouler, Givenchy, Viktor & Rolf, Bottega Veneta, Emilio Pucci, Valentino, Antonio Berardi, Jason Wu, Hugo, and Vika Gazinskaya. Фото by Patrick Demarchelier.
La Ville-Lumière cranks its wattage. On October 22, the Paris Opera Ballet rolls out a revamped world premiere of La Source, a ballet in two acts from 1866 which was originally choreographed by Arthur Saint-Leon with a libretto by Charles Nuitter. Choreographer/dancer Jean-Guillaume Bart set his new version to the original music of Léo Delibes and Ludwig Minkus and collaborated with French fashion designer Christian Lacroix on costumes and Eric Ruf on sets.
Swarovski has armed Christian Lacroix with more than 2 million crystals to create costumes [...] Lacroix created 77 costumes, including 39 designs [...] Nadja Swarovski plans to host a dinner in Lacroix’s honor following a performance Nov. 3 at Palais Garnier.
Venice's Teatro la Fenice has been pouring itself into new productions of the Da Ponte/Mozart operas, starting last year with Don Giovanni and culminating in February 2012 with Cosi fan tutte. The creamy filling is Le Nozze di Figaro which opened on Friday night at Venice's fabergé theater.
Classical music critic Enrico Girardi of Corriere della Sera is a Le nozze lover, calling it, "the perfect opera, the culmination of four centuries of musical theater -- the masterpiece of all masterpieces," and while he normally likes young Venetian director Damiano Michieletto's opera productions, this one didn't convince anyone -- especially not the loggione who hurled boos on the director at his opening night curtain call.
The review isn't yet online, but Girardi wasn't a fan of conductor Antonello Manacorda's "two dimensional" conducting nor Alex Esposito's Figaro. Rosa Feola (Susanna), Carmela Remigio (the Countess) and Markus Werba (the Count) all made the cut.
A couple days ago while OC was in Stockholm partying with the unsinkable Maestro Muti, his bionic heart and Sweden's H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf for the maestro's win of the 2011 Birgit Nilsson Prize, La Netrebko was in NYC at The Metropolitan Opera House to sign autographs and her new CD for her devoted fans.
Early today in Sweden's capital under the twinkling chandeliers and gold leaf of the Royal Swedish Opera, Riccardo Muti addressed the press as incoming 2011 Birgit Nilsson prize laureate, an award that comes with a dizzying 1 million dollar purse. Muti declined to address such details, but hinted that any funds, including funds extended philanthropically, would be made under the veil of anonymity. Aside from Muti's legions of super-fans, president of the Birgit Nilsson Foundation Rutberg Reisch and the RSO managing director Birgitta Svendén were on hand to congratulate the Neapolitan conductor (photo above, more here).
"You realize that maybe you've done something important with your life and that people around the world recognize the work that you've done as a musician," Muti said during the press conference from his most recent perspective as 2nd year MD of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Honorary Director For Life at Opera di Roma.
The award commemorates the deep impressions that Muti's slashed across the landscape of opera and classical music over the past two decades -- champion of rare works from Paisiello, Cimarosa and Martucci; fostering young talent through his Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini kids; and outreach initiatives in conflict areas (prisons, too).
An award ceremony was held later in the evening at the Royal Swedish Opera, attended by H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf and H.M Queen Silvia. Sondra Radvanovsky sang Tacea la notte placida accompanied by Gianandrea Noseda and the Royal Swedish Orchestra, followed by a stirring Va, Pensiero from Verdi's Nabucco.
A gala dinner was held at Stockholm's City Hall to toast Muti and Birgit Nilsson's extraordinary legacy -- Salome, Isolde, Turandot, Brunnhilde, Elektra -- reminding us that Birgit drank your milkshake. She drank it before you even ordered it. Even young Muti, when he was Music Director at Maggio Musicale, sacrificed his cherished leisure to take a train from Florence to Rome to hear Birgit sing Leonore in a concert version of Fidelio conducted by Lenny Bernstein, an honor reserved only for the Swedish dramatic soprano. More tomorrow after OC's refuels on fresh herrings.
Later tonight in Stockholm, Riccardo Muti will be awarded the Birgit Nilsson Prize for "extraordinary contributions" to music in the presence of H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf and H.M. Queen Silvia and Opera Chic
La Scala has announced today that "Maestro Scaligero" (since 2006), ie some sort of "Principal Conductor" Daniel Barenboim has now been named Music Director effective from December 1, 2011 until December 31, 2016.
The Music Director post had remained vacant since 2005, when Riccardo Muti left la Scala.
La Scala points out that Barenboim, in his new role of MD, will be in Milan for 15 weeks a year.
Riccardo Muti just accepted the title of Honorary Director For Life at Opera di Roma; the conductor expained once again that his schedule is too busy for him to fit an actual Music Directorship in it, but he will continue his close relationship with the Rome opera.
Our awesome girl crush on Leona Lewis bloomed in 2008 after reading that she had turned down a 1.5 million dollar offer from Harrods' boss Mohammed Fayed to host a ceremony that would open the London department store's annual summer sale.
As a devoted crusader of animal rights, the British singer-songwriter scolded Harrods' for selling fur and issued a firm "no thanks".
Florida Grand Opera gets its hump on with extensive prosthetics for an upcoming production of Rigoletto. Baritone Mark Walters, who sings the lead, was recently fitted at Florida Grand Opera's costume studio, blueprinted by director Jeff Buchman for a deeper connection to Verdi's jester.
Walters will be joined by Michael Fabiano as the Duke and Nadine Sierra as Gilda for the premiere on January 28, 2012.
Tall, dark and handsom Italian bass cantabile Ildebrando D'Arcangelo is currently rocking his Los Angeles Opera debut as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte.
He told the L.A. Times that he'll be back next season to sing playa Don Giovanni, which he models from, "Antonio Banderas in the Broadway musical 'Nine' and John Malkovich in the 1988 movie 'Dangerous Liaisons'." Read the rest of the interview here.
Fabio Luisi spoke to Corriere della Sera in a long interview where he confirms that, unlike Opera di Roma (that threatened a lawsuit after Luisi's decision to pull out of Rome's Elektra in order to be able to replace the still-indisposed James Levine at the Met) Wiener Symphoniker and San Francisco Opera and Carlo Felice in Genova, where he had to cancel engagements as well, have been cooperative, actually the institutions were "happy to be able to help the Met".
Of Levine he says:
"He's been responsible for forty years of an artistic renaissance that still benefits the Met... I'm happy to be part of the Met family in a more continuing and intense. We'll see what the future brings".
Of his vision of opera conducting:
"It's important, for a conductor, to consider oneself as a partner of the singers, to indicate them a destination and the way to reach it. The good conductor doesn't give orders but motivates the singers, with his support and persuasion".
He also reveals that he loves his new Upper West Side apartment and that he sometimes makes "musica da camera" playing at home with his wife, a photographer who's also a trained violinist.
And re: his penchant for wearing a suit and tie during rehearsals:
"I am convinced that wearing an appropriate outfit during rehearsals is a sign of respect, due to the people working with me: the orchestra, first and foremost, the colleagues and the collaborators".