A quick word about the just-named, incoming music director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Jaap van Zweden (pronounced “YEP van ZVAY-den”). This is not the time nor the place to debate the relative merits of the chosen candidate, as set against every other conductor in the world, for two reasons. One, because I have a conflict of interest via my own professional work in classical music (which, from time to time, has included working with the good folks at the Phil). But mainly, it's because the candidate has now been chosen. The selection process is over, and it's time to give him a chance. If we want him to do well--and success for Jaap, remember, means a success for the orchestra and more to enjoy for all of us--then we should let him mount his new podium free of any baggage or prejudgments.
"Opera," said the Canadian tenor Jon Vickers once in an interview, "is not entertainment." For entertainment, he explained, he would far rather watch My Fair Lady. Opera had to go deeper. It was deeper, or it was nothing.
Licia Albanese, one of the great Italian sopranos of the 20th century, has died. There has been some discussion about her precise age, but general agreement is that she was 105 (older than had been previously thought). She was a rare kind of talent--which is meant not just in the conventional sense of payig a compliment, but the voice itself was an unusual combination of soft-edged delicacy and bursts of piercing power that sung 'through' rather than over the orchestra.
Of all the international protests in the West over the Gaza war, many of them controversial--in my opinion many of them ill-informed--one which has caused more heartache and uproar than almost any other has been the Tricycle Cinema (also a famous fringe theatre in London) dropping the Jewish Film Festival. "Dropping?" The venue, and its artistic director Indhu Rubasingham, says no. They only required the JFF to give up its nominal funding from the Israeli embassy, and her theatre even offered to make up the difference.
August marks the death, 95 years ago, of a flamboyant and famous impresario. Who just happened to have a grandson who became more famous still.
Classicalite contributing editor James Inverne states his case, with videos, for the five best Carlo Bergonzi recordings.
James Inverne remembers Carlo Bergonzi--the tenor who may have been, in some ways, the greatest of them all.
The Royal Shakespeare Company has released two albums of speeches and music from their productions of the two parts of Shakespeare's Henry IV (starring Sir Anthony Sher) and Richard II (starring former "Doctor Who" David Tennant).
So what do we think about this new initiative from the BBC, this idea to create a UK-wide scheme to introduce children to classical music through a proscribed list of "Ten Pieces"?
If Spain had a father figure of classical music, Rafael Fruhbeck De Burgos was it, though there were periods when he was more popular outside of his native country than in it. Yet his heart remained forever in Spain, and it is in that country that he passed away today, aged 80.
What's it like composing for a stage show rather than the concert hall? Classicalite contributing editor James Inverne asks RSC favorite Paul Englishby.
Pacific Opera Project have a nice idea for staging Puccini's classic.
It shouldn't take a 200th anniversary to send everyone scurrying to the shelves (or Spotify) to listen or re-listen to some great Strauss recordings. But anniversaries are useful for reminding us, and any reminder to hear again the ravishing recordings recommended here is to be appreciated...
So tell me, where am I missing something? Because I fear that I don't "get" Steve Reich. At least, not all the time. And that's bad news, because I just made my debut as a performer in one of his best-known pieces.
One of the best-loved figures in the British musical establishment has passed away.