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Valencia in turmoil as intendant quits

December 6, 2017 by norman lebrecht

9 comments.


The once-prestigious Palau de les Arts in Valencia was headless last night after Davide Livermore quit as artistic director. Livermore was rushed into the job after the arrest of Helga Schmidt on spurious financial charges.

Yesterday, the board met to change Livermore’s terms of reference. He took umbrage and walked.

Report here (in Spanish).


Comments (9)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Domingo is in Valencia at this time, rehearsing Don Carlos. Perhaps the board will offer him the post? You never know, he might be beginning to find the climate a little trying in California and feel more comfortable having a permanent base in Spain…

    1. Olassus says:

      That would make perfect sense. I bet they set Livermore up to quit so as to bring in PD. Music is such an icky business, and those valencianos such good ol’ boys.

      1. Arturo says:

        So true about the Valencianos being good ol’ boys. The worst of the worst – they have an animal pack mentality.

        Which is why it’s interesting to see the spiriling demise of Les Artes as they band together, blaming everyone else as they collectively fail.

        I’m no insider, but here’s a bit of what I’ve observed from the outside:

        It started with the building of the hall itself – they wanted one of their own to design it so they hired Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava who created one of the most problem-fraught opera houses in history. It looks like Darth Vadar’s helmet & it’s an architectural disaster. The govt. of Valencia finally had to sue him to reclaim the money to repair everything that went wrong.

        Then they wanted the name of the orchestra to reflect the fact that it’s Valencian: “Orquesta de la Comunidad de Valencia” or something like that. They systematically hold auditions and then don’t hire anyone. It’s become a joke and they’re shedding good players constantly. No one from outside of Valencia wants to work there, which is probably what they’re hoping for.

        The Valencians are at war with Madrid because they feel they deserve more funding from Spain’s central govt. for their insular, regional Valencian opera house.

        The list goes on and on, culminating in the tar and feathering of the distinguished Helga Schmidt who dared to take the reins of this dubious organization. The Valencians tried to blame her for their own financial mishaps. They wanted a scape goat. What they did to her was deplorable.

        The rumors, the implications in Davide Livermore’s resignation are that there are plans to close down Les Artes, There are just too many problems. They’ve already gone the Spanish equivalent of bankrupt once. Livermore has come forward to say that because he wants no part of the demise of Les Artes, he prefers to resign. Not sure if that’s the actual truth.

        Placido Domingo would be an outright fool to accept the leadership of this company. It’s a death wish. Respectable musicians have bailed long ago. Zubin Mehta re-appeared briefly to defend his colleague Helga Schmidt, but he’s long gone. Music Directors of repute, even certain rising young Spaniards will not touch Les Artes. It could be the kiss of death for a young conductor’s career.

        The Valenciano old boys (and girls) are fond of blaming authority figures for their own errors. With Livermore gone they have absolutely no one else left to blame. They want the fame and prestige of an international opera house but they want it Valencian run and it’s very clear they have no idea how to run an opera house.

        So I personally believe that Les Artes is going to fold. Any savvy music director or manager with the knowledge and experience to save the organization is going to take one look at what they did to Helga Schmidt, how Livermore has now reacted and just walk away. The Valencians have made their own bed now they can sleep in it.

    2. Ungeheuer says:

      Yes it would be a good place for PD to throw in the towel, for good.

      1. Anonymous says:

        He’s currently portraying the world’s oldest ever Posa…

  2. Arturo says:

    Maybe it’s true about Domingo – he’s already plunged head first into the fray, declaring his intentions to return to Les Artes “with or without Livermore”.

    Domingo supports Livermore, and makes some good points to the Valencian govt. in the process. He indicates that the clause in Livermore’s contract which require him to impose an audition process for hiring international opera stars, for example, is just not viable. “Major opera stars are not going to do it.” says Domingo.

    This is the type of govt. beaurocracy both Livermore and Schmidt faced – politicians who are not musicians but who hold the keys to the coffers for govt. funding who therefore try to set rules which are not feasible in the prof. music world.

    Domingo also points out that Les Artes runs serious risks if they try to put an inexperienced Valencian in above a non-Valencian who has passed merit exams to hold any top management position. This is an outright acknowledgement of the good ol’ boy Valencian way of doing business, which is rampant. They hire their own at any cost. Domingo is warning them that this could be a risk to the company.

    Here’s the article:
    http://www.elmundo.es/comunidad-valenciana/2017/12/05/5a26adf446163f894f8b4686.html

    1. Anonymous says:

      I’m shocked! SHOCKED, I tells ya!

  3. Il Turco in Italia says:

    Davide Livermore has developed a lot since signing general management with his agent Gianlucha Macheda, who also has had many of his clients working at the Valencia Opera House. I suppose he simply does not want to stay in a theater with many administrative problems, but Valencia has been the only house in the world having at the same time two maestros like Mehta and Maazel, two giants with really high fees. Now times are completely different, and the house less atractive in the international circuit.

  4. Sam says:

    Side point…. “Domingo is there doing Don Carlos…”

    Of course he is! I am so absolutely fed up of seeing his name in almost every baritone role any time I want to go to the opera! He’s everywhere! When will he just step aside and let real baritones get their time in the sun! Doesn’t he realize that he is denying his audience the chance to hear the art form that he once raised to such high standards? He is massacring the baritone repertoire all over the world, vandalizing the art form from within, and yet the opera world keeps hiring him! It’s a scandal that nobody dares to write about. Why is this not a story in itself?


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