We have been informed of the death of Carol Rowlands, who had a 30-year career mostly in UK opera houses, and a secondary line as a cabaret singer.

Carol,who died in her sleep yesterday, started out in chorus and small roles with Scottish Opera.   She went on to sing  Mrs Grose in The Turn of the Screw, Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress for English Touring Opera, Judy in Punch and Judy by Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Goneril in Toshio Hosokawa’s Vision of Lear. 

She was in Gloriana ar ROH and sang Annina, Mrs Gross and Miss Sedley at Holland’s Reisopera.  She sang Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana for Scottish Opera-go-round and was Carmen at Holland Park. In her 60s, she was stricken by cancer, which she dealt with in a very private way. Few knew the severity of her condition. She was widely loved. 

Our sympathies to Carol’s family and friends.




No excuses. This is not a new video nor an exceptionally illuminating one.

But watched at the end of a long day, the sight of 167 Japanese students playing Beethoven’s 9th on electronic theremins built into Matryoshka dolls was simultaneously so weird and moving that we felt moved to share it.

See what you think.


An inner-city pub has been given permission to open a branch on the ground floor of the Australian National University’s long-struggling School of Music.

Most Aussies wouldn’t give a 4X about this, but the premises are supposed to be used for concerts, rehearsals and outside hires. The permanent presence of a pub, many feel, sends altogether the wrong signal. See here.



Just when you thought it was getting easier to carry an instrument on board, three airlines – American, United and Delta – have sneaked in new regulations that will require passengers to pay or stow anything above a reduced baggage entitlement.

Next time you fly, the bag sizer at check-in will be smaller and you will be the poorer for it. Why do those bastards keep penalising us?

Read this.

delta (1)

The Danish National Symphony has booked Fabio Luisi to take over its late chef’s concerts in September and is regarding him as the likeliest to take his place. Vladimir Ashkenazy, Juanjo Mena and Cristian Mãcelaru are also considered candidate, according to our Copenhagen mole.

Luisi, who missed out at the Met when James Levine recovered unexpectedly from severe disability, was first to respond to the Danish shout-out for next season’s guest conductors after Frühbeck’s death.

Luisi Fabio - C Barbara Luisi_thumb_thumb



We’re shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Sara Widén, soloist of the Swedish Royal Opera. Battling with cancer, Sara recently appeared as Pamina in the Magic Flute and Zerlina in Don Giovanni and was widely seen in digital cinema screenings. Our condolences to her close family and colleagues.


sara widen

Cellist Richard Harwoodand a group of friends have burrowed into the depths of the London Underground to raise money for music education for underprivileged children. That’s pretty much everyone in Britain if the Conservative government gets re-elected.

If you see Richard and pals, do give generously to Musequality.

Ambient distractions aside, it’s a fine performance.

The New Israel Opera is performing Verdi’s masterpiece on a desert hilltop where a fugitive community committed suicide rather than fall into the hands of the occupying power (these were Jews and Romans in 73 AD).

The fashion for staging musical spectacles on the site began with case-appropriate concerts – Beethoven’s 9th, Mahler’s 2nd. But opera, that exotic and irrational entertainment, seems out of place on a place of pilgrimage and contemplation.

The conductor’s comments don’t help. ‘Through the music you can go really very high and in this place in the desert you can achieve magical things. My dream is that this really becomes one of the most important festivals in the world because the place is unique.’ (Daniel Oren, music director, New Israel Opera.)

It just feels wrong.

traviata masada


Souring relations between Canadian musicians and the AFM have come a a head in Quebec, where musicians vogted this weekend by 53.3% to end their membership of the US-based union. Details here.



The British honours system has been degraded by many scandals in its time and his is not one of them.

However, many sets of eyebrows went vertical to read on Saturday that a pair of classical music artists’ agents had been awarded the MBE ‘for srvices fo the music industry’. The pair are the retiring chiefs of Askonas Holt, Martin Campbell-White and Robert Rattray.

Hmmm. and Hmmm, again.

Honours are supposed to reflect a measure of good that is done for the nation, for people who give freely of their gifts to the world. Agents do good for themselves and sometimes for their artists. There the benefice stops.

So why add honour to profit?

You tell me.

In other honours, Andras Schiff was made a knight, ENO boss John Berry a CBE and soprano Susan Bullock the same. Warm congrats to all three and to others on the full music list here.



Our team at the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music have captured video of an extraordinary event – the operatic tenor Roberto Alagna in a flowing galabah working with a band of Middle Eastern and North African musicians.

Mary Finnigan’s report follows:
Alagna 3


The 20th anniversary edition of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music unfolds this week in Morocco’s cultural and religious heartland –

proclaiming a message of peaceful collaboration, with Islam as an exemplar of unity. Meanwhile the capacity for multi faith tolerance that used to prevail in Syria has disintegrated under the impact of civil war and Iraq is being torn apart by Sunni versus Shia sectarian violence. Israel and Palestine are still squabbling and Egypt is back under military rule.


But the Fes Festival keeps on trying — to maintain its momentum as a beacon of hope in a troubled world and as the acceptable face of Islam. Two days into the festival, so far all the performances have taken up the theme, with varying degrees of success. The opening night spectacle incorporating audio, visual, dance and acrobatic effects, worked surprisingly well as an illustration of an arcane esoteric text. The Malian diva Rokia Traore was on brilliant musical form, in tandem with her passionate endorsement of Pan African identity. The Franco Italian operatic tenor Roberto Alagna made a bold, but somewhat misguided attempt at cross cultural integration. Alagna’s line up comprised stage left a Middle Eastern ensemble playing their kind of music and stage right a small western orchestra playing on an entirely different tonal range. Centre stage, Alagna’s magnificent voice seemed equally disjointed – much better suited to Puccini than the folk-based repertoire he chose for the occasion. Many members of the 3,000 strong audience loved it with uncritical enthusiasm. But the musical cognoscenti fled during the interval, shaking their heads sadly.



A pair of Harvard academics have launched a new website for lost Mozart documents, of which there are plenty.

Dexter Edge and David Black promise 60 unknown treasures in their first batch, including first-night reviews of Figaro and Cosi and a hithrto unrecorded Mozart concert in 1787. Click here.