Exclusive: major diva walks out on Universal

Exclusive: major diva walks out on Universal


norman lebrecht

May 16, 2011

Bits keep falling off the classical agency wing of Universal Music, and I wonder why.

The raft of artists that agents Jeffrey Vanderveen and Manfred Seipt brought to the media giant three years ago has been getting thinner and thinner as clients drift back to their previous haunts, never having found the pot of gold they were promised.

Van and the Man tried last year to pull off a deal with the British corner store HarrisonParrott, but since that went down the agency wing that was supposed to act as flypaper to Universal’s record labels has simply stalled.

No new artists. Only one conductor on the books (and you won’t have heard of him) and widening discontent among the clients.

The firm has four big earners: Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazon, Thomas Hampson and Karita Mattila.

Karita quit today. She’s taking her US career back to Alison Pybus at IMG and putting her Europe diary in the hands of Simon Goldstone at Intermusica, the man behind Joyce DiDonato.

That’s a big loss for universal. Not quite as much as the $14 million they have already squandered on the agency, but big name, big prestige, big blow. One other biggie, I hear, is also wavering.

Sounds like someone in a suit needs to take a smart view of the faltering business.