Just in: US singer to head Russian opera house

Neil Shicoff has been appointed head of opera at the Mikhailovsky Theatre, the second opera house in St Petersburg. Shicoff has, for the past few days, been celebrating 40th anniversary events in Vienna, where he has spent much of his career and was once considered a candidate for head of the Staatsoper.

Here’s the ritual exchange of compliments:

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Neil Shicoff: ‘For the past 5 years, I have had a very close professional relationship with the Mikhailovsky Theatre. From the beginning, I felt like I was surrounded by a circle of friends, and over the years, I have followed the progress of this wonderful opera company and am very proud to be included in its continued growth! I am optimistic and hopeful that as Chief of the Opera of the Mikhailovsky Theater, I will be able to make further advancements in the areas of enlarging the opera repertoire, helping the soloists of the Mikhailovsky with their international careers, further present the Mikhailovsky into the international music world, develop new connections and co-productions with the leading opera houses of the world and find new young talented singers to bring to the theatre!

‘Two days ago, I was honored at the Vienna State Opera with a Gala performance celebrating my 40 years onstage. My many years of collaboration with the Vienna State Opera and continued cooperation with the house in the capacity of an honorary lifetime member will certainly provide a good opportunity to bring the two cities, St. Petersburg and Vienna, closer to one another. Both are so important in the history of music and art, and I believe more should be done to facilitate the flow of talents and ideas between these two great cities. I am very much looking forward to getting started!’

Vladimir Kekhman, Artistic Director of the Mikhailovsky Theatre: ‘Our theatre is willing to expose itself to the very best that exists in the world music community and assignment of Neil Shicoff to the position of the Chief of the Opera sustains our strategy. I am convinced that an iconic artist, a person of keen intellect having a vast experience and artistic authority will procure that the theatre will hold the key positions in the world music community. And our soloists will acquire an outstanding mentor who will teach all the tricks of the trade’.

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  • Perhaps the Met should fire Gelb and hire Schicoff–who probably knows a lot more about artistic integrity and fulfilling a duty towards the operatic tradition in his little finger than Gelb does on his entire body.

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