If you think you know Mahler, try this. Strictly for the nerds.


Olga Peretyatko

This is Olga Peretyatko, a rising Russian soprano who is touring Germany as Adina in Donizeeit’s L’elisir d’amore. Olga writes:


Yesterday was a really great evening with Teatro Regio di Torino here in Wiesbaden. But only a few of you know, what a week I have had. My adorable grandmother died exactly on my birthday, I was and am still sick, with laryngitis and a common cold.

Yesterday with all these medicaments and thanks to vocal technic I sang a wonderful performance. But this morning my body just told me: I can’t do anymore, it’s too much.

In the photo I’m by a doctor, with a cortisone infusion and with an oxygen mask. Nice! But it’s too dangerous to sing tonight. And I still need my vocal chords for my future.

I know, that some of you came extra for me today to Wiesbaden. I tried everything, believe me! I’m really sorry, but I must cancel tonight.


LATER: Actually I wanted to speak to the audience with my bass-baritone voice, and tell them, how sorry I am, but the theatre of Wiesbaden wanted to make their own announcement. A lot of people were disappointed.

So that was my second cancellation due to illness since 2005, when I canceled one Blümanmadchen in Hamburg.

And I hope it was the last one.

Take care!

The Pro Arte Quartet, based at the University of Wisconsin, were held for several hours by Customs at Brussels Airport over concerns that their instruments contained protected ivory and wood specimens. Despite prior assurances that their instrument passports were recognised in Belgium, assistance had to be called from consular officials and a Belgian cabinet minister in order to release the quartet in time for them to practice for the first concert.

Sarah Schaffer, of the university’s school of music, writes:

pro arte quartet


Our first afternoon was spent at American Embassy, trying to spring violist Sally Chisholm and cellist Parry Karp (below), who were both detained at the Brussels airport and refused entry into Belgium over the endangered species business about ivory and wood.

“Oh, boy. Also called on our Belgium friends, who reached the cabinet minister in the agency overseeing CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna), and between all efforts we got them sprung.

“We’re all here at last, exhausted, a little tattered, but a much better outcome than we feared for many hours today.”


…. is never easy. Here’s the latest take from Welsh National Opera.


We hear complaints from London Jews that the timing of the two Covent Garden performances would require them to break one of the ten commandments, the fourth to be precise. An act of cultural insensitivity.

The fire that gutted the Glasgow School of Arts on Friday completely wiped out its famous library, but the majority of the Art Nouveau building was somehow saved.

And curators are confident that the library can be restored in time from drawings and photographs.

This could have been so much worse. Full statement from GSA chair, Muriel Gray:

glasgow fire



Statement from Muriel Gray on the state of the Mackintosh Building

After a sobering tour and inspection of the interior of the Mackintosh along with Professor Tom Inns with two expert colleagues today we have a much clearer idea of what the situation is.
Bad news first is that we have lost the iconic and unique Mackintosh library. This is an enormous blow and we are understandably devastated.
But the most amazing, almost miraculous news is that the majority of the building is still intact. Due to one of the most astonishingly intelligent and professional pieces of strategy by the fire services, they succeeded in protecting the vast majority of the building, apparently by forming a human wall of fire-fighters up the west end of the main staircase and containing the fire.
Also after ensuring no lives were in peril they displayed an impressive understanding of the precious nature of the building, and due to their careful and meticulous handling of each developing situation the damage is considerably less than we dreaded. We have run out of words with which to thank them, but the school has most certainly gained a new gallery of heroes.
Tragically many students have lost some or all of their work, but many others have had theirs preserved, and curators and academic staff can expect to be allowed to enter the building in the next few days to try and assess what can be salvaged.
The joy that our archives are safe combines with the delight in seeing most of our beloved building bruised and battered but most certainly not destroyed.
As for the library, Mackintosh was not famous for working in precious materials. It was his vision that was precious and we are confident that we can recreate what was lost as faithfully as possible.
Our main concern right now is the welfare of the students and the impending graduation and everyone is working hard together to achieve the best outcome for all.
I don’t think I have ever been prouder of being part of institution over these last two days. It’s not just been the amazing team work, professionalism and support that everyone involved with GSA have demonstrated, but the warmth of support and help from the wider public and all our friends across the world has astonished us. We‘d like to thank everyone from the depths of our hearts.


Caption: Good news, sir: We’ve successfully removed the tune that was stuck in your head.

(c) Leigh Rubin, 2009

We have been informed of the death of David Weiss, principal oboe of the LA Phil for 30 years until his retirement in 2003. For much of that time, he was also the orchestra’s principal photographer. See gallery here.

David first played in the orch in 1962, when he was just 15. He was professor of oboe at USC from 1985.

A member of a far-flung musical dynasty, his brother and sister both held principal seats in US orchs and hs cousin is the oted composer Mark Neikrug. David, ho suffered a heart attack yesterday, was just 67.

Our sympathies to his family and loved ones.

David Weiss-Camera-1000px-785x520

In his defence of the corpulent adjectives he used to describe a comely young singer in Glyndebourne’s Rosenkavalier, Richard Morrison, chief music critic of (London’s) Times, wrote on Thursday:

The Times has yet to receive a single letter, email or online comment objecting to what I wrote. Which suggests that the general public accepts that when people perform in front of a paying audience, the total image they present — looks, voice, acting ability and suitability for the role — is fair game for critical comment.’

Yesterday, the Times published seven letters.

Five of them related to its splash coverage of the big, fat opera row and only one specifically to the original review. This will be intensely frustrating for professional critics, indicating as it does that the review was, at most, skim-read on first publication.

Why is that? Consult the stars.

In a former life, as assistant editor of a formerly respected newspaper, I fought hard and successfully against the blight of applying star ratings to reviews of live performances. My argument was that once readers counted the stars they would not bother to read those reviews. Of all my gloomiest predictions, I fear this one has been most fully validated. When I stepped down, the stars took over.

Today, critics whose columns are unadorned by stars stand a chance of getting read down to the very end. The rest must hope for a scandal or a miracle to secure close attention from a general readership.

tara erraught munich

Tara Erraught as Romeo in Munich’s I CAPULETI E I MONTECCHI. Photo: Wilfried Hösl



An obituary in yesterday’s Times newspaper has obliged me to doff my hat to the attention-seeking entertainment and transportation mogul whose businesses seem to run more on ego than on fuel.

Now, curb the the criticism. I have reason to be grateful to the high-flying Mr B. According to the eulogy for his sometime close associate Tessa Watts, ‘when Richard Branson set up his record label he nearly called it Slipped Disc.’ Oh, no. Imagine that.

However, the snappy Watts ‘suggested a better name as they were all “complete virgins at business”‘.

Thanks, Mr B, for leaving us the trademark. Rest in peace, Tessa Watts.


We are relieved to report that the Danes have called off the dogs in the tax-dodge case they were building against Nikolai Znajder. The violinist, who has lived in Denmark only since he married in 2012, had laid out a full defence against having to pay tax in previous years. His defence has been accepted and the case has been dismissed.

Here’s a note from his lawyer:


Yesterday Nikolaj Znaider won his case against the Danish tax authorities.

For three years since 2011 the Danish tax authorities have claimed that in 2006 Nikolaj Znaider became resident in Denmark and was fully tax liable, referring to the fact that in between his concerts he had visited his parents and stayed with them in the house, he and his parents had bought together in Copenhagen. Accordingly he should have filed tax returns and paid income taxes from 2006.

The National Tax Tribunal rejected all accusations and stated that Nikolaj Znaider did not become a tax resident in Denmark. His short stays in Denmark with his parents were just holiday trips, and so the Tribunal agreed with Nikolaj Znaider stating that according to Danish tax law and practice he was not liable to file tax returns and pay taxes to Denmark from 2006 to 2011.

Nikolaj Znaider moved out of Denmark in 1992 and has lived in the US, Austria, Israel and Monaco until in 2012 he got married and took up residence in Denmark, where he now lives with his family.

Lawyer Gitte Skouby

Email: gs@homannlaw.dk