Despite moral support from Maris Jansons, a football XI of the Concertgebouworkest could only manage a goalless draw against the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Various reasons for the debacle were given in the dressing room:
1 It was hot.
2 They played too fast.
3 It was the violas’ fault.
4 We were under-rehearsed.
5 The commentator was rubbish.
6 The conductor left early.
7 We didn’t lose, did we?
photo (c) Anne Dokter
Much flutter in the operatic dovecotes this morning.
Glyndebourne has advertised for a part-time dramaturg, 45 days a year at around £250 ($400) a day.
But hang on a minute. It’s only 13 months since the company appointed Cori Ellison as its first-ever dramaturg.
Either she’s heading back home, or they need two. We’ll let you know when the skies clear.
This is the first of a short series. If you’re very good, we’ll post more goodies tomorrow
and in German
Well, you’ve just got to read the article, right?
Give that sub a beer.
The diva gave a joint interview with Placido Domingo to Die Zeit (German text, and not online). Her precondition, issued through her agency, was that she was not to be asked questions about Vladimir Putin. The paper duly reported that.
Here’s a summary of the rest of the interview for Anna-watchers.
During the first part, Domingo does nothing but praise Netrebko.
He first heard her as one of the Flower Maidens in a production of Parsifal conducted by Gergiev.
“She was the jewel of the evening, a diamond!”
He told her after the performance that she should take part in his Operalia competition.
Netrebko: “And I screamed: Never! I’m not the type for competitions. I’ve never taken part in a competition in my life.”
While as opera chief in LA and Washington, he has cast her several times, Il Trovatore is the first time they’ve actually sung together.
Domingo: “And it won’t be the last time. As long as I was a tenor, our repertoire wasn’t compatible. I’m 30 years older than Anna, I was simply too late, something which I’ve always regretted. But now I’m a baritone. I can be Anna’s father on stage. There are lots of father roles….”
Netrebko: “I’d prefer lovers.”
Domingo: “Good, then let’s take Verdi’s Macbeth, he and Lady Macbeth aren’t a particularly nice couple. But exciting. Ever since I heard Anna Netrebko as Manon in LA, she is for me one of the most important singers of all time.”
Netrebko whispers to Domingo: “Placido, you’re talking about me all the time. This is an interview about Il Trovatore.”
Domingo: “Yes, I talk about you. And I’m talking about the calibre of a Maria Callas. And I don’t just mean the voice, but the musical intuition, the acting, your phenomenal stage presence. Just everything.”
Netrebko: “Callas is unparalleled.”
Domingo: “She was unparalleled until you came along.”
Netrebko is equally effusive about Domnigo: “Whether as a tenor or a baritone, it doesn’t matter. Placido’s is the voice of a genius. It is always beautiful, no matter in what repertoire, what language, what age. It is singing at its most perfect. Even if I don’t believe in God, his voice is a gift from above.”
She denies that the opera business is a vipers’ nest (German is Haifischbecken = tank of sharks): “That’s a silly cliche. Why should there be more scheming and plotting, more envy and jealousy than anywhere else?”
Turning to the role of Leonora in Il Trovatore, she says:
“Can I be honest? For me, Leonora is a completely phoney character. I don’t find her credible, not for a second. I don’t believe that someone can love so much that they’d give up their life. That’s total bullshit. I’m a woman of the 21st century. I’m from Russia. And I believe in survival, completely pragmatic. Hence I feel Leonora is an extraordinarily weak person. Manrico is weaker still. Aszuena, the gypsy, simply horrible. Only Luna shows any strength. But Verdi’s music is brilliant. And that is more than enough.”
Towards the very end, she says:
“We artists shouldn’t meddle in political issues.”
Among the ripples of the police investigations into 1980s student rape at Chethams, the RNCM, Guildhall and other music schools, a private school reached a quiet settlement this week with a former student who had been sexually abused by a teacher between 1976 and 1983.
He was not the only victim at Sevenoaks School. Stuart Neilson, an ex-pupil, has come forward to tell Slipped Disc that he was abused by the same teacher. He is not seeking damages, but has formed a support group. So far, eight ex-pupils have said they were abused by five teachers at the school during the period concerned. Stuart Neilson wants Seveoaks School to acknowledge responsibility for the abuse, rather than passing the buck to its insurers.
The chief abuser, says Stuart Neilson, was a technology teacher called Gerd Sommerhoff, a minor celebrity who once presented science programmes on the BBC. Sommerhoff, described in his Wiki entry as a ‘pioneer of theoretical neuroscience’, went on to teach at Trinity College, Cambridge, and was awarded the OBE. He was the grandson of Elise Schumann, third child of Robert and Clara Schumann, and had been brought to England as a child in 1931. Sommerhoff died in April 2002. Stuart Neilson is concerned that his offences should not be forgotten.
He wonders if there are wider ramifications to the case. During the time of these abuses, there was a chaplain and housemaster at Sevenoaks School called Peter Hullah.
The Rev. (later Bishop) Hullah went on to become head of Chetham’s. He once walked in on the convicted rapist Mike Brewer while he was fondling a naked girl. At Chetham’s, as at Sevenoaks, the Rev. Hullah turned a blind eye.
Stuart Neilson tells us that, as a pupil, he discussed sexual bullying and abuse with Hullah. ‘I am absolutely certain that he was aware of the nature and extent of the sexual abuse, and that he was both chaplain and a housemaster,’ he attests. At Mike Brewer’s trial, Hullah admitted being party to ‘a cover-up’ to arrange Brewer’s removal from the school. Except for his evidence at the trial, Hullah has maintained total media silence and refused requests for interview.
The Gramophone offshoot, Limelight, is being wound up by its owners Haymarket Media as part of the sale of Gramophone to new owners.
Haymarket is open to offers for Limelight until December 13, after that it’s curtains.
While Slipped Disc regrets any contraction in classical music media, it cannot shed too many tears for a magpie operation that habitually lifted its online content from other music sites and failed to credit the original source, or to apologise when caught. Limelight was on a loser. Australia deserves better.
photo: Lebrecht Music&Arts
On Sunday 15 December, the Young Vic will present a celebration of the life and work of Patrice Chéreau who died on 7 October 2013.
Friends and colleagues will present excerpts of the films, opera and stage productions of one of the great theatre artists of our time.
The evening will include …
Memories of Chéreau and reflections on his work from Daniel Barenboim, Dame Gwyneth Jones, Kerry Fox, Katie Mitchell, Alex Ross, Esa-Pekka Salonen, David Lan and others.
John Fulljames, Associate Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House, will discuss Chéreau’s production of Der Ring des Nibelungen with Donald McIntyre who sang the role of Wotan.
James Rutherford will sing Abendlich strahlt der Sonne Auge from Das Rheingold accompanied by David Syrus, Head of Music for The Royal Opera.
Jack Laskey and Tom Brooke will perform an extract from the Young Vic’s 2011 production of Jon Fosse’s I Am The Wind, Chéreau’s only UK production and his last theatre production anywhere.
Email contact: memorial@Youngvic. org
The Irish baritone Sam McElroy, fiancé of the pianist Gabriela Montero, has been involved for five years with an extraordinarily talented child, a boy called Rex Lewis-Clack. Rex is blind, autistic and a musical savant. Sam wants to put his life on a secure footing. Take a minute to read about a rare gift.
The Genius Next Door.
By Sam McElroy
In 2008, I moved to a quiet corner of coastal Los Angeles, where my neighbor happened to be a young boy called Rex. Rex Lewis-Clack was born blind and autistic. Following post-natal neurosurgery to remove a cyst, the medical community gave him long odds of survival, and normal function was more or less ruled out.
Yet, at the age of two, Rex was given a keyboard for Christmas. What followed was nature’s reminder that for every action there is an equal and opposite one. Rex relaxed his tight fists and began to play the keyboard as though recognizing an old friend. It seemed that, while language might prove an obstacle for him, the syntax of musical harmony and melody were already encoded within him.
Now 18, and recently graduated from high school, Rex is a well-documented musical savant. He has been profiled three times by the CBS’s “60 Minutes” telejournal,
and was the subject of a Discovery/Science Channel investigation into “Ingenious Minds”. His mother, Cathleen, a graduate of Stanford University and a former currency trader, became an educator for the blind, and in 2008 authored a moving account of her life with Rex. “Rex: A Mother, Her Autistic Child, and the Music that Transformed Their Lives” has been translated into several languages.
Cathleen soon discovered her new neighbor was an opera singer, and asked me to consider teaching Rex to sing. The account of the subsequent five years merits a book in itself, and maybe one day I will write it, but central to the story was another brush with serendipity.
In 2010, Cathleen invited me to the Hollywood Bowl. The venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero was in town to play with Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic, and Cathleen felt Rex would benefit more than anyone from hearing Gabriela give one of her signature encores, an improvisation based on a theme suggested by the audience. Gabriela had also been profiled by “60 Minutes”, in a piece called “The Gift”, and her ability to create new musical content in real time was the sort of inspiration that could nourish Rex’s mind for years to come.
The day after the concert, I ran into Gabriela herself, quite by chance, in a Starbucks on Melrose Avenue. We got talking, and we have been talking, and laughing, and making music, and living together ever since. I left Los Angeles soon after we met, to be with her on the east coast, but just two months ago Gabriela and I moved back west together. Back to where it all began, and engaged to be married.
On December 15th, I will present the launch concert of our new “Rex And Friends Charitable Foundation”, in Hollywood. The foundation aims to provide music education grants to those with blindness or autism. Gabriela will be our special guest, sharing the stage with Rex in what promises to be a deeply touching evening of music-making and spontaneous creativity, and closing the circle on a perfect round of serendipities.
For many of the foundation’s intended beneficiaries, music is the only language which makes any sense, their eyes onto the world we all take for granted. I invite you to take a moment to find out more about Rex and our work at the foundation. With even the most modest kindness, the global crowd of musicians and artists can contribute the gift of music to Rex and his friends. And they will cherish it.
Thank you, on behalf of Rex and Friends.
– “Ingenious Minds”: Discovery/Science Channel
– Attached photo: a joyous Rex in front of the new Rex and Friends billboard, Los Angeles, featuring Rex and Gabriela.