Nicolae Herlea, the Romanian baritone who sang Figaro in Rossini’s Barber of Seville more than 550 times, has died aged 86. He performed in all major opera houses with the leading conductors of his time.


Report received: On Feb. 24 Nicolae Herlea, famous Romanian baritone, died surrounded by his family, in Frankfurt, Germany.

Born in Bucharest, Romania, he studied at the local Conservatory, with professor Aurel Costescu-Duca, baritone at the Romanian Opera House. Herlea’s debut took place in 1951, as Silvio in I Pagliacci. From that moment on he became soloist of Romanian National Opera, for 35 years, until his retirement.

Besides his career in Romania he sang in the most important Opera Houses, like MET, Teatro alla Scala, Bolshoi, Royal Opera “Covent Garden”, Paris Opera, Staatsoper Berlin etc.

Famous opera artists who met him declared that Herlea has one of the most beautiful baritone voices: Placido Domingo, Roberto Alagna, Angela Gheorghiu, Herbert von Karajan, Nicolai Ghiaurov…

In the past 10 years he was President of the Jury at the International “Hariclea Darclee” Voice Competition in Braila (Romania). He was publicly celebrated at 85, when he received the “Darclee” Medal. He had also the most prestigious titles of Romania, like “People’s Artist” and “The Star of Romania”.

Zoe Keating is an e-phenomenon. As @zoecello, she has 1.2 million twitter followers upon which she has built a touring career that is a paradigm for balancing live performance and social media.

Today, she revealed the fruits of her labours in terms of annual earnings for 2o13. Click here to read the full document.

In sum, Zoe earned $75,341.90 from sales of singles and albums,  mostly by download from iTunes, Bandcamp and Amazon.

She also earned $6,380.82 from streaming, of which a measly $1,764.18 came from Spotify.

Zoe, as we’ve pointed out is e-savvy. She doesn’t think Spotify is good for working musicians. Nor do we.



shani diluka2

I hadn’t come across Shani Diluka before her current release, but that may be because she was on the road. Sri Lankan born and based in France, Shani has put together a Kerouac journey across America in piano vignettes and a whiff of danger.

It’s my Album of the week on Click here.

shani diluka


The rich man’s estate that was ordered to cough up $137 million on Friday to build an opera house in Lucerne is not giving up. A statement from the estate said that the judge’s award to Lucerne was ‘subject to feasibility’ and feaibility of a salle modulable (pictured) had yet to be proved in court.

Here’s today’s statement from one of the lawyers on the losing side, Jan Woloniecki:


salle modulable



‘The effect of the decision is that, regrettably, there is as yet no complete finality in the dispute. The Plaintiffs will not receive the CHF 120 million lottery win which they were claiming at trial. However, the Salle Modulable project, which was thought for all practical purposes to be dead, is now on a judicial life support machine. BTBL is presently considering its options, including a possible appeal on the grounds that the Court did not have the power to give the Plaintiffs any further time for the production of a new feasibility study, and anyway should not have applied Swiss law.’

The Met, desperate to appear interactive, has hired fashion photographer Rose Callahan to scour its public areas for talent and use its audience as catwalk models. The opening shots are nothing less than a Manhattan eye-opener. Do not attend the Met under-dressed (as if you ever would).


rose callahan1 

rose callahan2        rose callahan3   rose callahan4   rose callahan5

A Canadian musician, “Mysticssippi” blues man Harry Manx, is appealing for the return of his precious instrument, a cross between a guitar and a sitar. Harry flew into at O’Hare from Toronto on Friday morning to play in Wisconsin. But the black fibreglass case was not there when he reached Terminal 2 baggage claim at 10:47 a.m. Harry’s facebook appeal has received 75,000 shares, but no guitar – so far.

Harry writes:

harry manx

Beloved friends, with a heavy heart I want to tell you all that this morning at Chicago Ohara airport, while I was on my way to retrieving my luggage, someone stole my beloved Mohan Veena (pictured to the left of me).
Security cameras showed a man pick it up and walk out. I’ve had that Veena more than 20years. There’s hardly been a day that I haven’t played it. I feel as though I’ve lost a good friend. I need everyone’s help to find it. If you know someone in Chicago, tell them about it. Maybe it will surface on Craigs list or E-bay. Maybe in a music store or Pawn shop. There’s no missing it. The Veena is in a Black Fibreglass Case with lots of stickers. And the Veena has 20 Strings, 2 layers of strings running parallel. It has tuning heads right down the neck. No other instrument looks like this. I’m grateful for any help. thanks Harry


Today’s inscription reads: ‘To dearest Norman. Love, Yundi.’ The disc is out tomorrow, timed for Yundi’s Royal Festival Hall recital.

Watch this go wild on Weibo.

yundi li

Kirill Karabits, principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, has been talking to the London Times, which is a subscriber-only site. Here’s a sampling:

Kirill Karabits conducting the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra


My mother and sister live in the centre of Kiev and now I’ve been watching what’s happening there almost 24 hours a day on television. I never imagined that one day things would go so far that people would be killing each other in the central square of my capital city.

From what I’m hearing, everyone is fed up. It’s corruption on all levels in daily life, from being stopped by policemen in your car to trying to get any money from the Government for any project — and I know plenty about that. People cannot go on like this: it’s a protest against the whole system.

I was in Russia in December performing at the Bolshoi Theatre and I heard on the news that they were calling the protesters [in Kiev] extremists — they called these students “trained terrorists”! Of course Russia has been trying to suppress these protests. I feel very close to Russia — I’m a Russian speaker from childhood and I’m at home there — but I absolutely disagree with its behaviour towards Ukraine…

Yeah, Kaufmann was great. But the rest? And that tired old story? An uncluttered assessment from our closely-engaged operavores, Elizabeth Frayer and Shawn E Milnes. Click here to read.

kaufmann werther

And, by way of ballast, here’s a hardcore professional view by Manuela Hoelterhoff on Bloomberg (you may have missed it since Bloomberg no longer houses a specialist arts feed):

What About Me? Hysterical Poet Commits Suicide at Met: Review

2014-02-20 00:00:00.2 GMT

Review by Manuela Hoelterhoff

Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) — Me! It’s all about me! Opera is full

of narcissistic creatures with histrionic disorders, but is

there anyone quite like young Werther?

Massenet’s opera about the suicidal poet opened on Tuesday

at the Metropolitan Opera in an unfortunate new production

featuring the greatest tenor of today: Jonas Kaufmann.

“Werther,” first heard in 1892, has lots of tenor arias,

beginning with the scene-setting ode to nature. Every leaf in

the woods glowed as Kaufmann looked around and sang with that

velvety tone that is his alone.

New to the neighborhood, Werther has arrived at the house

of the poised yet humble Charlotte to accompany her to a ball.

Enchanted by her country ways, he immediately plans for the

future only to learn that she promised her dying mother to marry

Albert, a local bore, probably a lawyer.

“Un autre! Son epoux!” he gasps as the orchestra thunders

his horror.

Over the next three acts, the virtuous young woman of

Wetzlar, Germany, deflects Werther’s increasingly desperate


I Want Charlotte

Goethe (1749-1832) was just in his 20s when he wrote “The

Sorrows of Young Werther,” partly basing his epistolary novel

on a Lotte he adored and the suicide of a young friend.

Werther’s letters darken as the joys of the world become

completely entwined with what he cannot have: a life with


Even though 100 years had passed by the time the French

Massenet wrote his opera, their spirits comingled in a rare

fusion of text and sound. He captured the Sturm und Drang that

sends Werther careening toward death.

Vengefully shooting himself with her husband’s pistol,

Werther dies very slowly in her arms as the sobbing Charlotte

finally addresses him with the familiar “tu.”

That duet is a brilliant invention — in Goethe’s story,

she faints as a messenger arrives with the news of his death.

The Met’s staging is by Richard Eyre, who moves the show

into the 19th century, a silly idea with grave consequences,

including cluttered sets and ghastly costumes.

Unenlightened Look

Honoring the original period is sometimes best for a piece.

“Werther” is not a story of the corseted Belle Epoque, but the

diaphanous Enlightenment of the 1770s.

Everyone at the Met looks like they escaped a production of

“The Merry Widow,” though Werther’s dreary long coat would be

nice for a Sicilian funeral.

If Eyre has any insight into these people, it doesn’t come

through; especially not Werther’s preening. He loves his blue

jacket, leggings and yellow vest. It’s perverse in an

uninteresting way to deprive him of a look that would become the

rage in Europe for young men who read Goethe — with a few

engaging in copycat suicides.

Rob Howell’s sets are crooked. I guess that would be to

reflect Werther’s unbalanced personality? Isn’t that idea a bit


And might it be time to ban staging overtures? Eyre mimes

the funeral of Charlotte’s mutti as we are trying to listen to

Massenet’s ravishing prelude.

A few pretty projections by Wendall K. Harrington of ravens

and fluttering leaves almost erased the painful memory of an

opening scrim devoted to a Joyeux Noel greeting card. (Werther

chooses Christmas to die).

Dramatic Frenzy

In the pit, Alain Altinoglu conducted with sweeping

gestures at a lifeless pace until the last act, for which the

impressive French mezzo Sophie Koch, in her Met debut, worked

herself into a dramatic frenzy, having freed herself of a

perilously attached pancake hat.

The last duet with Kaufmann was memorably beautiful. Such

radiant singing seared the heart and provoked one of the

greatest ovations in recent memory.

But not before Eyre had Charlotte pick up a pistol to shoot

herself. What? Nothing in the story suggests anything so grossly


For an antidote, look to William Makepeace Thackeray who

rhymed: “Charlotte, having seen his body borne before her on a

shutter, like a well-conducted person, went on cutting bread and


“Werther” is in repertoire until March 15. The production

was made possible by Elizabeth M. and Jean-Marie R. Eveillard.

Kaufmann and Koch also star in a striking period production

directed by Benoit Jacquot for the Bastille Opera in Paris,

available on Amazon.

(Manuela Hoelterhoff is an executive editor at Bloomberg

news. Any opinions are her own.)

Jan Wagner, Caracas born, is former principal conductor of the Odense Symphony Orchestra in Denmark and a regular guest conductor with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela. Today, he joins the protests by Gabriela Montero and Carlos Izcaray against the continuing violent suppression of dissenting citizens in his country. Here is Jan’s letter to Slipped Disc:

jan wagner


As another Venezuelan citizen, artist, musician and conductor living abroad I wish to express my solidarity with the people of my country and add my voice to the thousands around the world who are calling for an end to the violence, oppression, injustice and flagrant violations of human rights that are currently being infringed upon a peaceful nation by a ruthless and despotic government.

As peaceful demonstrators without arms, our only hope to help bring closure to this crisis in Venezuela is to appeal to world leaders, artist of repute, intellectuals, the media and ordinary citizens outside of Venezuela to join the cause by spreading the word and making their voices heard.

Many of my musician colleagues, friends and family members in Venezuela are afraid of expressing themselves through the already restricted access to social media out fear of repercussions and persecution by the government and out of fear of loosing their jobs and, thus, their livelihoods.

The word is already beginning to spread about the atrocities already committed (and which continue to be committed against my people) by the current pseudo-revolution. Postings on social media already illuminate the many barbaric acts that continue to unfold. But we must continue the build pressure on the government to cease it illegitimate stronghold on power.

Let us not forget that it was a Venezuelan Simón Bolívar who led the most fantastic and courageous battle against oppression in the early 19th Century and virtually single-handedly liberated, not only our country, but also Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Bolivia, laying the foundation for democracy for most of Latin America. Where are the grateful leaders of those countries and when will they express their support and solidarity with the people of Venezuela? Don’t leave Venezuela alone now when it needs you the most!

As an individual completely opposed to violence and a firm believer in the power of expression through music, I’d like to share a recording of a work by one of Venezuela’s most significant composers, Evencio Castellanos, whose EL Rio de las Siete Estrellas (The River of the Seven Stars) evokes the spirit in which our republic was conceived. The work was inspired by a poem written by Venezuelan poet Andres Eloy Blanco whose poem, “Canto al Orinoco” is a fabled account of pre-colonial Venezuelan history leading up to its independence in 1821 (One a side note: yes, the Venezuelan flag has seven stars. Not eight. That’s one of many insulting and capricious atrocities committed against the people of Venezuela by the current “Chavista” revolution abhorring the memor, dignity and history of our predecessors).

May the power of this music inspire us all to help liberate our Venezuelan brothers and sisters from the tyranny of those who currently oppress them.

Jan Wagner, proud Venezuelan national (I.D. 6.819.447) and proud dual citizen of the United States of America.

The Kelemen Quartet arrived in Australia to open the Music Viva chamber music season. Then disaster struck.

An exclusive report  by Zoltán Szabó, in Sydney:

kelemen quartet

The much anticipated first subscription concert in the 2014 Sydney season for Musica Viva turned out to be rather different from the  plan. The ensemble was the Kelemen Quartet from Hungary, truly a family affair: a husband-and-wife team of two violinists, her sister as cellist and the godfather of their two children as the viola player. The Quartet received prizes in major international chamber music competitions in Beijing, Melbourne and Budapest.

After two warm-up concerts, the Quartet took Friday off in Sydney and went to Manly beach. Then disaster struck: a collision in the surf left Dóra Kokas, the cellist, with a badly bruised wrist. By Saturday morning, her condition worsened and an X-ray established the wrist was fractured.

With a 2 pm Saturday matinee drawing close, Barnabás Kelemen and Katalin Kokas, the two violinists came up with an emergency plan. They designed (though hardly had time to rehearse) a complete recital, comprising of the 44 duos of Béla Bartók in the first half, a sonata by Jean-Marie Leclair, three formidably demanding Études-Caprices by Henryk Wienawski for two violins and Mozart’s K.423 G major Duo after the intermission. The latter is scored for violin and viola, so Katalin Kokas nonchalantly changed her violin for viola during the second half.

The pair performed the extremely demanding programme with exuberant elegance, an occasional smile on their face as they looked at each other, in perfect consort and with professional composure. Speedy recovery to Dóra and much further success to the Kelemen Quartet!


dora kokas

photo: Katalin and Dora Kokas

Ask anywhere in Germany for the top Wagner tenor and the odds are that Klaus Florian Vogt will get the popular vote ahead of Jonas Kaufmann. Smaller in voice and physique, much favoured in Bayreuth, Vogt has a universal, trans-generic appeal where Kaufmann’s fans are mostly female opera buffs. The rivalry is, in its clear distinction, as interesting as that of Domingo and Pavarotti, in their day.

Which makes it all the more puzzling that Vogt received his first really hostile reception this weekend, playing Faust in a depressive new production at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Read the first review here (auf Deutsch).

Has the German fad for booing singers just gone one tenor too far? Or is Berlin a Kaufmann fortress?

Kaufmann, meanwhile, is wowing the Met in Werther. Goethe rules, ok?

klaus florian vogt