It has been confirmed that Barbra Streisand will perform on Thursday at a Hollywood fundraiser for charities benefiting members of the Israeli armed forces. The singer, who seldom does such things these days, was recruited for the event by media mogul Haim Saban. Former Israeli chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazy will be among the guests. I’m guessing there will be no disruption from pro-Pal campaigners.

Read more here.  


A Polish singer who made it in Vegas after being launched in Communist Warsaw by wartime fugitive Wladyslaw Szpilman died on Monday in Poland just as the country’s president was honouring her mentor’s centenary.

Violetta Villas (born Czeslawa Cieslak) was given her break on Polish Radio by Szpilman. In Vegas, she appeared on Frank Sinatra’s bill.  She also had a bit role in Paint Your Wagon. More here. And some video.



Which marketing genius slapped on the black sticker?

If the image is too small for your eyes, it reads: Includes: You Won’t Let Me Down Again, Time of The Season & No Place to Fall.

Mariss Jansons is out of action again in Amsterdam.

Who’s free at short notice?

James Judd is this week stepping in at short notice for Maestro Mariss Jansons, and will conduct four concerts with the Concertgebouw Orkest in Amsterdam; we’re delighted to announce that he has entrusted us with his general management.    

Interclassica Music Management GmbH

Bryn Terfel and Antonio Pappano have sent video messages (here and here) to the good people of Rumania, urging them to welcome Angela Gheorghiu to their cinemas as Tosca.

Does she really need to be reintroduced to the folks back home? What’s the point of these encomia? Why does Bryn want to be cast in the next Balkan production of Teddy Bear’s Picnic? What’s going on here….? And why is Jonas Kaufmann so subdued?

The discussion on orchestral growth in Norway has underlined the importance of rising government investment in the performing arts. It seems to be paying off in wider public involvement and rising international prestige. A country of less than five million gets noticed for its musical stars.

My friend Mona Levin, editor of Norways Klassisk magazine, has settled the question of how many orchestras there are in her country. There are eight symphony-sized professional orchestras:

Oslo Phil

Bergen Phil

Trondheim Symph

Stavanger Symph

Kristiansand Symph (in the south)

NOSO – Tromsø Symph and opera orch (in the north)

The Opera Orchestra Oslo

The NRK Radio Orchestra

Several of these orchestras have musicians in smaller classical ensembles, like TrondheimSolistene (plays with Mutter), contemporary ensembles like BIT20Ensemble (Bergen), Det Norske Kammerorkester (based in Oslo and house orchestra at Risør Chamber Music Festival), Stavanger has a smaller ensemble specializing in old music. There is also the Oslo Sinfonietta, contemporary.

Mona asks:  ‘Why does a small country like this have such musical development? In my opinion, it’s because we got there so late. Our Accademy of Music dates from 1973, our Opera from 1958. The same institutions in our neighbouring countries are more than 200 years old, even 300. It’s taken a long time for Norwegians to accept that culture is important and worth something in our lives, and that it costs something to educate artists, to keep up the quality of the musicians in the orchestra. Then there’s the Andsnes effect, the Truls Mørk effect. And of course Mariss Jansons who made the government understand why “a full symphony orchestra” was a necessity.’

This is worse than sending out for coffee in Brazil. Watch the video.

The details are sketchy, but what is clear is that a conductor has lost his job in apparently compromising circumstances.

Claire Fox Hillard has been the mainstay of the Albany Symphony since 1987. He told police, who were called to a store in a town called Camilla and found him dressed only in a towel, that two men had cut off his clothes and robbed him. They say he had been engaged in activity of a sexual nature with a woman. He was kept in jail overnight but not charged with an offence.

The orchestra sent him on four months’ leave, presumably to shop for new clothes. Those four months have now expired and the orchestra say that, after 24 years, they won’t have him back. That seems rather harsh for one sartorial offence. Normally, Claire’s quite a smart dresser.

It’s Utah, and it saves $1.1 million off the payroll over three years. From the local report, it sounds fairly amicable.


They have found one of his lost operas in Belgium, but it’s unlikely ever to be staged. André-Modeste Grétry had the misfortune to die in 1813, they year when Verdi and Wagner were born. His anniversary in 2013 will be marked by universal silence, poor chap. Grétry, born in Liège, was big in French Revolutionary times. His best-known aria is O Richard, O mon Roi, l’univers t’abandonne from the Crusader opera Richard the Lionheart.

The opera they have now discovered is called An Officer of Fortune. Don’t expect to see it any time soon.

Si l'on connaissait l'existence de cette oeuvre de Grétry, on n'avait par contre plus aucune trace du manuscrit.