netrebko mexico

South of the border, tequila time.

From an interview today in London wth Jessica Duchen:

Sellars: ‘You can’t sell out a season any more, in the concert hall, opera house or theatre, because the discretionary money that the middle class used to have has been eliminated and middle-class people are struggling.

‘I think it’s a very specific situation that only has to make us bolder – because, guess what, our survival is at stake. So the arts need to stand for something, at a time when we all need to stand for something; and the arts should be in the lead, not in the back.’

peter sellars

A website, actually.

It’s called and it launched this morning from Texas.

Sample content below.
reich sample

Reinhardt Elster, who retired as the Metropolitan Opera’s principal harpist in 1986, was back in rehearsal today, checking out the management.

elster gelb

Full story here.

As of this morning, 68,000 people had watched a set of three master-classes that Joyce DiDonato gave this week at Carnegie Hall. At her insistence, they are staying online for a year. It’s not a performance, she says: it’s a process.

Watch here. Set aside some time. You are likely to get hooked.



The holy warrior of modernism, seriously ill, was today awarded in absentia the Bach Prize of the city of Hamburg. It’s worth 10,000 Euros. He needs it like we need two breakfasts.

boulez lucerne


Lucina Amara, a soprano who sang 56 solo roles at the Met over 41 consecutive years, will be 90 on Sunday. Abroad, she appeared at Vienna, Glyndebourne and the Edinburgh Festival. At 51, she successfully sued the Met for age discrimination. She’s not done yet.


Regina Han, appointed only last month as general director of Korea National Opera, has resigned under pressure of a hostile media campaign.

A coalition of musical organisations claimed she lacked experience for the job. Regina, 44, had an international career as a singer in Europe and Japan before turning to scholarship and administration.

She said: My family was hurt by the way I was portrayed in the media without being given any opportunity to test my qualifications through the job.’

It appears she suffered the same kind of media lynch mob that was directed earlier at Myung Whun Chung, music director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.

Memo to those considering a music admin career in Korea: Don’t.


regina han



Wonderful clip from Karl Ritter’s Stukas (1941) just posted on A sick Luftwaffe pilot is cured of his depression by listening to Götterdämmerung at Bayreuth. The music revives him to climb back into the cockpit and bomb civilians in England.

You see where all this Wagner leads?

New research by Dr Christina Scharff  at Kings College London finds extensive inequalities at every level of the classical music profession with regard to sex, class, education and ethnicity.

Among its findings:

– The proportion of women working in the arts and cultural sector  has fallen to 43%;

–  women earn less than men (£29,015, compared to £34,669)

–  only 7% of the cultural workforce was from a black and minority ethnic background;

– just 3.9 % of students at five conservatories were from ‘low participation neighbourhoods’;

– the middle-class culture of music education may explain why classical music continues to appeal to middle-class audiences.

The report recommends ‘The introduction of quotas to increase the representation of minority groups. Quotas can be applied to … commissions, prizes, scholarships, concert programming, conductors and composers.’

Read the full report here. We will be surprised if this recommendation does not become Labour Party policy and an Arts Council condition for obtaining grants.

h/t: John Williamson




The weekly list of US classical sales becomes ever more depressing.

Only Bocelli reached 1,000 CD and download sales on Nielsen Soundscan last week; the next best record failed to sell 400.

But the most shocking stat is that a new DG release by Piotr Beczala, the Polish tenor who has been wowing Met audiences in Iolanta, managed to sell just 120 items in a week. In the whole of the USA.

It looks like curtains for the record biz.


A production of Tannhäuser in Novosibirsk has drawn a complaint from the Russian Orthodox church and a police charge of offending religious sensibilities against the director, Timofei Kulyabin.

tannhauser siberia

production shot

He is accused of public ‘desecration of the object of religious worship in Christianity – the image of Jesus Christ in the Gospels’. The show opened in December and Novosibirsk Opera will revive it next month. Metropolitan Tikhon, head of the Orthodox church in the region, compared the offence it caused to the Charlie Hebdo cartoons in France. Kulyabin, 30, an award-winning director, calls his complaint ‘absurd.’

He could face a heavy fine, or jail, if found guilty of blasphemy.