1.29 billion Euros.

You read that right.

Germany is spending US $1.75 billion on arts and culture.

(No question who’s winning this war.)

And the new minister Monika Grütters (left of Chancellor Merkel) says art must take risks and hurt people as well as pleasing them.

Read here.


Seattle has just announced it is releasing the 2013 Wagner Ring on 14 CDs, digital download and online streaming.

The recording features Greer Grimsley (Wotan); Stephanie Blythe (Fricka, Second Norn, Waltraute); Stuart Skelton (Siegmund), Margaret Jane Wray (Sieglinde and Third Norn), (Alberich), Alwyn Mellor (Brünnhilde) and Stefan Vinke.

Asher Fisch conducts. Evans Mirageas, a former head of Decca, produces.

Given the parlous state of commercial recording, it is hard to envisage another Ring appearing on record.

The Seattle 14-CD box set is on pre-sale from today at http://seattleopera.org/RingCD, price $150.



Security guards and maintenance staff at the Metropolitan Opera are protesting about a pay freeze. Their union is the third to confront Peter Gelb over austerity plans – after the musicians and the backstage workers.

It’s going to be a helluva long, tough summer. More here.

metropolitan-opera exterior


The most reliable of mezzos has pulled out of L’Italiana in Algeri, which was to have opened tomorrow in Dortmund. Hearing that she was sick, Dortmund cancelled the opera.

Bene­dikt Stampa, of Konzer­thaus Dortmund, said, ‘This morn­ing Cecilia called me: She has fallen ill and is incon­sol­able that she won’t be able to sing.’ Performances were to have been held on Friday 27th and Sunday 29th.



We’ve heard of opera tenors with Dracula tendencies.

There springs to  mind an early music conductor of unpredictable temperament who has been known to speak with his fists.

Back in the day, there was Carlo Gesualdo, prince of Venosa, who was widowed in unusual circumstances.

There is an Australian company called Opera Bites, but we’re sure they don’t mean it.

Any other candidates?


Veronika Klírová was announced today as principal second flute of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. There are now 12 different nationalities represented in an ensemble that was once, in living memory, regarded as the acme of Englishness.

Veronika, 26, has played with the Pilsen Philharmonic, the Prague Symphony Orchestra, Prague Philharmonia and the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie.

veronika klirova


Julius Rudel, who was chief executive and principal conductor of New York City Opera for 22 years, died this morning, eight months after the company he loved vanished int bankruptcy. He was 93.

Rudel joined City Opera in 1944 and was in charge from 1957 to 1979. José Carreras, Plácido Domingo and Beverly Sills got their New York breaks under his baton. He was also the inaagural  music director of the Kennedy Center in Washington from 1971 to 1975.

Full obituary here.

julius rudel

Many Israeli musicians have informed us of the death of Dudu Sela, head of chamber music at Buchman-Mehta academy and founder of the Cello Society and several festivals. He was a hugely popular and effective teacher.

Dudu was severely wounded in the 1967 war and saved by medical miracles.

Ron Ephrat tells us that he loved his country above all. His grandfather, Zvi Nishri, was the first gymnastic teacher in Palestine, his aunt Hanna Orlov was a successful sculptor. Dudu studied with Uzi Wiezel and Leonard Rose. May his soul rest in peace.


dudu sela



This is for every father who has been obliged by kiddie pressure to sit through hours of infantile exploitation.

The song, uploaded two weeks ago, has logged up more than a million subversive hits.

The idiom is spot-on. Anyone can write a Disney song.


We told you yesterday where O Canada came from. On we fly to Luxembourg, a non-country somewhere in Europe whose leader wants to rule over us all.


The Luxembourg anthem

Mozart, Ave verum corpus

The Mariinsky factory just grows and grows. The halls are named after composers – Prokofiev, Shchedrin (pictured), Stravinsky and Mussorgsky.

Gergiev thinks the acoustics are exemplary. Read here (in Russian).

gergiev shchedrin

He would have been 81 today.