The Royal Danish Theatre has announced budget cuts of 100 million kroner ($16.5 million) and 100 job losses. The chorus alone could lose 16 singers.
The Theatre has had a turbulent year, with a cover-up of drugs abuse in the ballet and the loss of artistic director Kaspar Holten to Covent Garden. Nevertheless, the end year cuts have come out of the blue.
Here’s a cri-de-coeur from staff conductor Jesper Nordin. Do send him messages of encouragement. We don’t like the Danes to be gloomy.
La Monnaie have just posted the complete video of Massenet’s Cendrillon, which has provoked heated discussion on this site and elsewhere in the past week. Judge for yourselves – try for instance, the opening of Act 3.
The entire opera lasts two and a half hours.
Our social correspondent has received an urgent message from the responsible authorities at forumopera.com.
Apparently the site owner and chief editor Camille De Rijck is not – as posted on his Facebook page – married to Hélène Mante, nor she to him. Or so they say. Ms Mante has taken down her Facebook page and Mr De Rijck, while maintaining his married status has deleted Ms Mante’s name as the object of his fidelity. All very odd.
What is not contested is that Mr De Rijck is owner and editor in chief of forumopera while also operating an artists agency that represents singers and soloists. As such, his site is in a position to influence careers. I do hope he has set up a very strong firewall between them.
Internal sources insist that the owner is not Editor in Chief (rédacteur en chef), just Directeur de la Publication, which means that he has no editorial role – although that’s not the impression he has given with direct interventions this past week.
Slipped Disc will, as expected, keep a watch out for abuses of the kind that first triggered this issue.
Matyas Seiber (1905-60) was a Hungarian exile who came to grief in South Africa when a steering wheel came off in his hands in Kruger National Park and he smashed into a tree. Although he wrote a James Joyce opera in 12-note rows, he also loved jazz and all things Magyar.
This upcoming release from Somm – and there are five separate tracks to download here, here, here, here and here – also has the fubkiest cover of the season so far. I just wish they’d spelled the composer’s name phonetically – so much more 21st century.
Our social correspondent reports:
On behalf of Andris Nelsons and Kristine Opolais, we are thrilled to bring you the news that Adriana Anna Nelsons was born on 28th December at 13:50 in Riga, weighing 3.8 kilograms.All three of the Nelsons Family are doing well and Andris is a very proud Father. Many greetings from the Nelsons Family to you.Readers will recalls that Andris has taken a month’s paternity leave from conducting, perhaps the first maestro to do so.
An economist in Holland has worked out the true cost of the country’s love of pyrotechnic displays on New Year’s Eve, most of which are paid for by the taxpayer, directly or indirectly.
According to Benn Bernmann every 1 Euro spent by a consumer, another 16 Euro has to be spent by the Dutch government to rectify damages, injuries and waste caused by the fireworks. Approximately 960 million is the cost of emergency medical help for fireworks injuries and damage to property. Damage to the environment is not included in his estimate, which dates back to December 2008 and has been retrieved by arts campaigners.
So here’s the Slipped Disc solution: put a Dutch cap on all fireworks until 2015, and watch the arts put on a real show with the saved revenue.
Read on here (in Dutch).
A few days ago, I took issue with a review on the Forum site in which a lone foreign singer was singled out for criticism of her French diction. The post provoked views from all sides, including someone who identified herself as deputy editor of the site.
It appears she is married to the site owner. His name is Camille De Rijck. That’s what it said on their Facebook pages (see update below).
I would not know this had Mr De Rijck not telephoned one of the respondents to Slipped Disc, the distinguished voice coach Mikhail Hallak, and threatened him with legal action for criticising his reviewer. Mr Hallak was upset by this unwarranted frontal assault and has written a response below.
More worrying is the discovery, in the course of this unpleasantness, that De Rijck is the owner and operator of an artists’ agency in Brussels. He is therefore both artist manager and reviews editor. Does he declare that dual interest when one of his artists is reviewed on Forum? Or when one of their rivals is trashed? Apparently not. Can one trust the impartiality of Forum? I wonder.
Here is Mr Hallak’s letter:
I recently worked with an excellent musician on a role which is not common in her repertoire. Her attention to diction is intense, the care for detail is admirable and no stones were left unturned in order to be as true as possible towards Massenet, French diction and the opera art form in general.
But that is for a different page… What bothered me was twofold: first, in a small review, her diction was criticized as “approximate.” Criticizing pronunciation of non-French singers is commonly acknowledged to be a formulaic criticism of Francophone reviewers. (It has also been mentioned that it is an easy and common pattern to spend most of a critique on the stage direction when one does not know about voice. Perhaps.) Oddly though, this is the first time I have heard this complaint about this particular singer – she speaks French beautifully, and has great love and deep commitment to the French repertoire, which she sings extensively at a very high level with some of the best known conductors of our time.
But then the plot thickens. Unlike her cast members, this singer is Jewish/Israeli. It seems to me that in these times, one can do better than this reviewer in terms of cultural sensitivity. If anyone wrote about a production where the only Moroccan singer (say, from Schaarbeek, Belgium) had “approximate diction, lack of vocal color but was delicious to look at,” this would also raise eyebrows, at the very least. Don’t we all deserve the same levels of respect and courtesy? Questions of xenophobia (at the very least) are inevitable in their absence.
The owners of this small internet forum were incensed that their reviewer had been, himself, criticized – going so far as to threaten legal action. Imagine if singers took the same route! Comments on Slipped Disc by forumopera’s Mediator/ Reader Liaison/ and Editor in Chief (Mr. De Rijk’s spouse) have been flying like cranes on crack, to the point of self-combustion.
Listening is actually what singers must do all the time — listening to conductors/ orchestras/ stage directors/ general directors/ music staff/ teachers and coaches – with the goal of finding consensus while maintaining their artistic integrity.The real question here is: can internet reviewers do the same?
UPDATE: Information has reached us that the couple are not, contrary to their Facebook declarations, married. Mr De Rijck is, however, both owner of forumopera, editor in chief and an artists agent. the conflict of interest endures. Read on here.
I’m hearing of negotiations between IMG Artists, the ever-turbulent talent agency, and LSO Live, the busy media outlet of the London Symphony Orchestra, for some kind of merger. IMG has a Russian investor, Alexander Shustorovich, who is eager to expand on all fronts. A deal with a record label would make some kind of sense as a way to launch new artists and keep the older ones in work.
UPDATE: LSO LIve have contacted me to say that a merger or buyout is not on the cards, but they are happy to help others – orchestras, artists (even agencies) to set up an own-label operation.
I’m also hearing that some IMG artists are being gently pushed into packages with LSO Live in preference to offers from major and independent labels. If this were the case, it would be a flagrant conflict of interest on the agency’s part and a breach of its fiduciary duty towards individual clients. If IMG want to go into the record business, that’s fine. But they must take care not to cross that line.
UPDATE: LSO Live insist they know nothing of such pressure.
Meantime, I hear Mr Shustorovich is casting an acquisitive eye at other labels.
Someone, if only Slipped Disc, has to keep an eye on the artists’ best interests.
This is the fizzing fourth movement of Beethoven’s second symphony from the forthcoming cycle on Orchid Classics by the Copenhagen Philharmonic – it’s been a big year for the Danes – and conductor Lan Shui.
I think the marketing plan is to offer the boxed set with a free sweater.
Claudio del Monaco, who underwent emergency surgery on Wednesday after being attacked with a breadknife, has been telling visitors to his hospital bed in Treviso of his lucky escape. Claudio, 64, received four stab wounds to the chest. His wife Daniela, 35, was found wandering in a daze on a nearby beach. She is being held in a psychiatric unit. ‘If I hadn’t escaped, I would have been slaughtered,’ Claudio told his cousin.
According to Corriere del Veneto, the couple were in difficult financial circumstances.
The good news is that Claudio appears to be out of danger.
The opera director, who is fighting for his life after being stabbed in an apparent domestic incident in Italy, is the son of a successful tenor, the brother of an important director and the husband of two opera singers, who may not be remembered best for their singing.
The first, Dragana Jogovic, is renowned for a youtube concert performance of Carmen for which she had not been breath-tested.
Judge for yourselves. It is reported that this epic performance may have cost Claudio his job at Belgrade Opera.
Wife number 2, who is reported to be assisting police with their inquiries into the domestic incident, is a German soprano of immense enthusiasm and variable intonation. In this video, she performs a florid love song for her unfortunate spouse. We wish him a speedy recovery.