Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Berlin’s Komische Oper, whose recent chief conductors include Kirill Petrenko and the late Yakov Kreizberg, has got itself into a tangle over its next music director. The incumbent, Henrik Nanasi, is on the way out. A shortlist of six has yielded one outstanding candidate who is well liked by the artistic director and ovated by the public in Barber of Seville. Antonella Manacorda, 46, is a former Abbado concertmaster who studied with Jorma Panula and now heads the orchestra at Arnhem in the Netherlands. He is also rumoured to have a Sony record deal, according to the combative Manuel Brug in Die Welt. But musicians of the excellent Komische Oper orchestra have voted him down. They want a bigger name. Simon Rattle has been mentioned. (Won’t happen: Manacorda shares an agent with Rattle.) So they’ve got stalemate. Story here.
The Hungarian conductor will step down as music director of Berlin’s Konzerthaus orchestra in 2018, when he’s 65. Says he wants to conducts less. He has raised the orchestra’s profile to the extent that he was ranked with Rattle and Barenboim at state events.
New York´s Metropolitan Opera is recognized as the most important in the world, and its satellite transmissions, with excellent sound and image, have been a major contribution to opera in many countries. Fortunately, the Fundación Beethoven took up the challenge and we have had many seasons at the Teatro El Nacional, generally with packed audiences, who know that many of the artists heard and seen don´t come to our city, for the Colón is far from being what it was. However, there has been a downside more and more evident: the Met used to be a guarantee of productions where not only the music but also the libretto were respected. As one great European house after another fell under the evil trend of disregarding the very essence of opera as a genre that allows us to explore different epochs, supplanting it with incongruous and often insulting changes, it finally reached the Met, and its current Director Peter Gelb is responsible for that, as he is in the positive side of the worldwide transmissions. So now we have a Nazi "Manon Lescaut" or a "Rigoletto" in Las Vegas. This year his choice for the opening was curious: generally the Met offers a grand production of operas that have a spectacular side, such as "Aida" or "Turandot", and of course with the most famous singers. Wagner´s "Tristan and Isolde" certainly isn´t that: an intimate story of love, vengeance and death between Medieval Celtic reigns, with few choir interventions and no massive scenes. But apart from the distortion of taste and common sense, there´s another general problem: even if tickets are quite expensive, costs are very substantial; at the Met salaries of orchestra and choir are exaggerated and productions have gone sky high. So the Met complies with reality: this "Tristan" is a coproduction with Festival Hall Baden-Baden, Teatr Wielki-Polish National Opera and China National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing. So you can see the same stage conception in four cities; and the HD live process extends this to two thousand venues in 69 countries. Wonderful if the production is good, but deeply destructive if it is bad. And this one is. The producer is Mariusz Trelinski, Director of the Teatr Wielki; stage design by Boris Kudlicka; lighting by Mark Heinz; projections design, Bartek Macias. Director of HD live: Gary Halvorson. And an inexplicable item, for there isn´t any: choreography, Tomasz Wygoda. In the cast I find two characters that don´t exist in Wagner: young (in fact, boy), Tristan; the other isn´t even seen: a Doctor. Now let me stress the musical side, for it was very worthwhile. I didn´t know Sir Simon Rattle as a Wagnerian, and I was pleasantly surprised: his reading was intense, coherent and intelligent, and of course the Met Orchestra is first-rate, so we had the intercrossing of Leitmotiven admirably expressed. And the singers were of undoubted quality. Nina Stemme probably is the best Isolde nowadays, of the Behrens rather than the Nilsson mold: a solid firm voice, but foremost a psychological insight that makes riveting every passage she sings. She recorded it with Plácido Domingo. Stuart Skelton, a new name for me, is tall and portly; his timbre is of the Windgassen rather than the Melchior tradition: it is clear, well projected and of ample register, though lacking in the volume and baritone richness of the ideal Tristan. He sings musically, with no nasality, and has the stamina to arrive fresh to the end of his part (the Third Act has terrible demands). And he is reasonably good as an actor. Ekaterina Gubanova was an expressive and well-sung Brangäne, and Evgeny Nikitin a bluff and forthright Kurwenal. We know the exceptional King Marke of René Pape, for he made his Colón debut two years ago singing the Second Act in the concert version conducted by Barenboim. The production: a) We were robbed of hearing the Preludes concentrated on the music, for a big periscope circle center stage showed confused images of mostly inextricable meaning. b) Costumes were modern and revolvers were used. No sense of Medieval values. c) Clumsy final minutes: you don´t see King Marke´s retinue nor the clash between Kurwenal and Melot, only lights with no people; and in what should be a sublime Isolde Love-death goodbye, she cuts her veins. And so on... For Buenos Aires Herald
“These days the world’s most sought-after choral conductor may well be Simon Halsey , who has racked up plenty of frequent flier miles in recent years bouncing among posts in his native Britain, Germany and elsewhere in Europe — and working around the world with leading orchestra conductors, especially Simon Rattle, with whom he has collaborated for decades.”
The Mayor of Berlin announced today that he ad signed a new music director and general manager for the philharmonic orchestra. Release follows. New General Manager for the Berliner Philharmoniker Contract signing of Kirill Petrenko and Andrea Zietzschmann The chairman of the board of trustees, the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, today signed the contracts with Kirill Petrenko as chief conductor, and Andrea Zietzschmann as general manager of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation. Kirill Petrenko will take up his position on 19 August 2019. In the spring of last year, the Berliner Philharmoniker elected Kirill Petrenko as successor to Sir Simon Rattle who will leave the post in 2018. The orchestral and cultural manager Andrea Zietzschmann will become the new general manager of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation on 1 September 2017, taking over the position from Martin Hoffmann who is leaving at his own request. The Governing Mayor Michael Müller: “I am delighted that we have succeeded today in signing the contracts of both Kirill Petrenko and Andrea Zietzschmann. We now have two internationally very well-connected, innovative and creative personalities at our side for the future work of the Berliner Phiharmoniker. In Andrea Zietzschmann, who takes up her position in 2017, a highly experienced cultural and orchestra manager will become the general manager of the most important orchestra in Germany. This forward-looking personnel decision has the full support of the orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle and Kirill Petrenko.” Kirill Petrenko, future chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker: “I am delighted that Andrea Zietzschmann is to be the new general manager of the Berliner Philharmonker. She is very personable and as a result of many years of experience with various orchestras, she knows best how a musician’s soul functions. As such, Andrea Zietzschmann is perfectly equipped for the task.” Knut Weber for the orchestra board: “We orchestra musicians are also looking forward to working with Andrea Zietzschmann. In addition to her wide-ranging experience in challenging management positions, she has proven skills and imagination in the development and planning of concert programmes. Moreover, we also share the experience of working closely together with Claudio Abbado at the same time. We look forward to a fruitful future and another exciting chapter in the history of the Berliner Philharmoniker.” Sir Simon Rattle, chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker: “Andrea Zietzschmann has a remarkable portfolio of experience dealing both with large institutions and the delicacies of a self-governing orchestra. She is knowledgeable, smart and tough, all qualities which she will need in this famously demanding and difficult job. I am delighted to welcome her to the Berliner Philharmoniker family!” Andrea Zietzschmann on her new position: “I see it as a great pleasure and privilege to accompany the work of the Berliner Philharmoniker from September 2017. I look forward to working with Sir Simon Rattle – and also to shaping the future of this extraordinary orchestra at the side of Kirill Petrenko and the musicians.” Kirill Petrenko, born in Omsk, Russia in 1972, moved with his family to the Austrian Vorarlberg in 1990 when his father found a job as a violinist with the local symphony orchestra. In 1995, Kirill Petrenko made his debut as an opera conductor with this orchestra at just 23 years of age. When he was 30, Petrenko came to Berlin where he was music director of the Komische Oper Berlin from 2002 to 2007. He appeared as a guest conductor with the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2006, 2009 and 2012. Petrenko has been general music director of the Bayerische Staastsoper since 2013. Andrea Zietzschmann, born in 1970, studied musicology, business administration and art history in Freiburg, Vienna and Hamburg. While graduating with a Master of Arts, she worked in parallel with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra and Westdeutscher Rundfunk. In 1997, she founded the Mahler Chamber Orchestra together with Claudio Abbado, and worked for six years as general manager of the ensemble. In 2003, she became the orchestra manager at Hessischer Rundfunk (HR), and in 2008, took on the role of head of music at HR, including responsibility for the broadcaster’s orchestras and festivals. Since September 2013, she has been manager of the four Norddeutscher Rundfunk orchestras and is head of NDR’s orchestral, choral and concert activities.
Metropolitan Opera, New York Simon Rattle, Nina Stemme and Stuart Skelton launched New York’s opera season with a searing Tristan. Plus, a welcome return for Simon Keenlyside Gala nights, especially those splashed with Manhattan pizzazz, excite myriad impressions. Not all are lofty. The opening night of the Metropolitan Opera’s new season, marking 50 years on Lincoln Center Plaza, offered plenty to ponder before a note of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, conducted by Simon Rattle and starring Stuart Skelton and Nina Stemme, was heard. Why were there so many empty seats even for this glamorous first night; could the wearer of that haute couture cuirass actually sit down; would the man in the pink fish-scale dress in the rear stalls ever remove his bowler hat?Despite widely reported financial and box-office troubles, and complex labour problems (of the 3,400 full or part-time staff, most belong to one of 16 unions), the Met remains one of the greatest of all opera houses, commanding top-drawer singers at world-class fees and with an orchestra that ranks, on any terms, among the finest. The quality of playing during Tristan, flexible, scalding, transparent, was worth every inch of the journey. Continue reading...