Santa Fe Opera has just announced an opera on the life of Apple founder, Steve Jobs. The composer is Mason Bates, the librettist Mark Campbell.

The opera will premiere some time in 2017.

Jobs was a Glenn Gould groupie. Who should we nominate for the piano role?


We hear that the Spaniard Perez Floristán, 22, has won the Paloma O’Shea piano competition in Santander. The five other finalists were Chinese, Japanese and Korean.


Perez is the first Spanish winner in four decades. He takes home 20 grand in Euros.

The Edinburgh Festival’s production of The Marriage of Figaro is in trouble.

Opening a week from now, it has lost both Susanna and Bartolo and has scrambled for replacements.

The soprano Ekaterina Siurina cancelled for no good reason – at least none that has been given.

The bass Robert Lloyd is also out.

The Spanish soprano Sylvia Schwartz (pictured) is flying in, but she’s six months gone and already on baby leave. Good trooper Andrew Shore is trundling up north to replace Bob Lloyd.

Ivan Fischer conducts the Budapest Festival Orchestra.

Subscribers will shortly be seeing the letter below.

Sylvia Schwartz

Dear Festival supporter,

I have to inform you of changes to the cast for the staged concert performances of The Marriage of Figaro by the Budapest Festival Orchestra on Wednesday 13, Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 August. Ekaterina Siurina is no longer able to perform the role of Susanna. I’m delighted to announce however that Sylvia Schwartz will now perform the role in her place. And as Robert Lloyd is no longer able to perform the role of Bartolo, Andrew Shore will now perform in his place.  

Spanish soprano Sylvia Schwartz is one of the most exciting lyric singers of her generation. She has appeared at many of the world’s finest opera houses and festivals including La Scala, Milan, Berlin Staatsoper, The Bolshoi Theatre, and Salzburg and Verbier festivals. She has worked with conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim and Rene Jacobs and performed the role of Susanna with the Vienna State Opera in 2011.        

Andrew Shore is acknowledged as one of the finest baritones of today. He has performed with all the major opera houses in the UK, and internationally with The Metropolitan Opera, New York, La Scala, Milan, Paris Opera and San Francisco Opera amongst many others.

Mr Shore has performed the role of Bartolo with Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra in New York in 2013, and will also perform the role with the English National Opera in the autumn.

The Edinburgh International Festival is extremely grateful to Ms Schwartz and Mr Shore for agreeing to perform in what promises to be a wonderful event.  

Yours sincerely,


The extraordinary ascent of Toronto Symphony Orchestra chief executive Jeff Melanson continues unabated.

While at the Banff Centre, where he wrought havoc among the resident artists, Melanson gave ‘family reasons’ as the cause for his return to Toronto. Soon, he was divorced. Soon after, he was walking out with the glamorous Eleanor McCain, heiress to a frozen potato-chips fortune.

In no time at all, the couple were being pictured in Hello magazine as Toronto’s power pair and he was headlined as ‘Canada’s cultural turnaround man’. In April 2014, Eleanor married Melanson.

jeff melanson eleanor mccain

Nine months later, she became the astonished victim of his next turnaround.

Here’s what she tells The Star:

Their first Christmas together: lovely. By the middle of January, however — with a bolt and akin to something out of sad-sack chick-lit — her husband, she says, announced he was moving out.

She never saw him after that, she says now. Not once.

“A couple of weeks later,” she goes on, “he sent me an email saying he was leaving the marriage.”

It surprised her?

“It surprised me.”

Entirely surprised her?

“Entirely surprised me.”

No comment from Melanson. Full story here.

UPDATE March 2016: What Jeff did next.

We’ve been hearing murmurs of discontent coming from the office of Peter Bellingham, managing director of Welsh National Opera. Apparently, money’s flooding out faster than it’s coming in and relationships have broken down.

The news is that Peter has quit. He’s to be replaced by Leonora Thomson, director of audiences and development at London’s Barbican Centre and former head of press.

Peter is thought to be in line for the chief executive vacancy at Glyndebourne.

What goes round…

welsh national opera chorus

A survey by the Journal of Advanced Nursing says surgeons should not be allowed the choose the music in theatre. There should be a decision by the whole team whether to play music or not, and which to play.

The survey found that in some instances team members could not hear what the surgeons were calling for during an operation, and that having to repeat instructions led to delays and possible danger.

The survey flies in the face of established wisdom, which is that music can assist calm and concentration in theatre.

Read the Journal article here.

Apparently, the first use of music in an operating theatre dates back to 1914. Anyone known where, who played, and what music?

surgeons music


Louise Plowright, star of West End musicals Mamma Mia and Wicked, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three years ago. After life-saving surgery,  Louise’s cancer went into remission.

At the beginning of 2015, the cancer returned. There was nothing more the doctors in the UK could do; they advised that her only option was palliative chemotherapy.

louise plowright

Louise contacted Dr Woo-Chul Moon in South Korea, who has developed a treatment that creates an individual vaccine from the patient’s own blood cells to attack the cancer.  Dr Moon has treated more than 50 patients with stage 4 inoperable cancer, 90% of whom have lived for over 2 years. In order for Louise to receive this treatment, she will have to travel to the Seoul National University Cancer Hospital. Initially she will have to stay for five weeks and will need to return to Seoul to receive additional treatment in the following year.

Louise needs to find £140,000 and has today started a 30-day Crowdfunding campaign that will allow her to get this treatment to save her life. See

Louise’s sister, the well-known mezzo-soprano Rosalind Plowright writes: ‘I am Louise’s eldest sister and we are a very close family. I am an opera singer (theatre plays a major role in the Plowright family). We lost our mother to cancer and our sister Marion is a cancer survivor. As a family we must beat Cancer.’

louise plowright rosalind plowright


Peter Gelb has told the Hyperallergic website:

‘We recently came to the conclusion that it would make sense, that this production should not employ any makeup. I realize it’s a sensitive issue. We feel that it’s the appropriate direction for this production and we’re happy with that decision. Quite frankly, [director Bartlett Sher] and I have talked about this for some time, how [Otello] should look in this production, so it’s a decision that has evolved over time.’

met otello
2015 production photo of Latvian tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko

Gelb added: ‘The [poster] look that was achieved was mostly through shadowy lighting. It was meant to be very moody and atmospheric. It wasn’t meant to launch a controversy or represent the actual production.’

h/t: NPR

UPDATE: Chicago got there first, as usual:

John von Rhein’s Chicago Tribune review of Lyric’s Otello that opened our 2013/14 season with general director Anthony Freud:
October 6, 2013:
It’s worth noting that, at Freud’s behest, Botha eschewed the blackface makeup that remains a shameful part of “Otello” performance tradition in most opera houses, even though the spoken theater has long since banished its use in performances of the original Shakespeare “Othello.”

Norway’s main museum for musical instruments, the Ringve Museum near Trondheim, has been seriously damaged by fire.

Many of the exhibits were damaged beyond repair. A Guarnerius violin has been reduced to ashes. There is hope that a piano once played by Chopin might be salvaged.

Report here.

norway instrument

A new-tech listening model launches this morning in Salzburg.

Named Idagio, it offers unlimited access to a curated classical database, where the choice of what plays is yours, not some anonymous producer’s.

Better still, it gets to know what you like and anticipates what to play in case you’re too worn out to choose. As of  noon today, the app is available for download.

Idagio’s USP is the most advanced set of metadata ever applied to classical music. Unlike Itunes and Spotify, which pay peanuts to musicians, it offers fair trade streaming to participating artists. Thomas Hampson, Franz Welser-Möst and the Vienna Phil are among the first to sign up. Check out the app here.

As far as Slipped Disc can see, this is very much a sign of where classical listening is heading. At the moment, we have two broadcast models – music you’ve heard 100 times before and never need to hear again(Classic FM) – and music chosen for you by people who know oh-so-much-better than you do what you should be hearing (BBC/NPR).

These narrowcasters become redundant once Idagio – or the next-gen metadata operator – returns choice to the listener.

Go, Idagio.

idagioThe Classic FM Interview with David Cameron.

The Moscow conductor Anatoly Kremer has died at 82.

A former People’s Artist of the USSR, he composed successful film scores, notably Eksperiment (1980), and light operas.

ACD Systems Digital Imaging

Birmingham’s Contemporary Music Group, established in the Simon Rattle era, has been a beacon for composer-public engagement in the UK, with audience members chipping in to pay for most of its premieres and CBSO musicians engaging eagerly with new works.

Now, a pair of founding members who have run the ensemble for 15 years have decided to step down. Big round of applause.


bcmg newbould

press release:

Stephen Newbould, Artistic Director of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and Jackie Newbould, the ensemble’s Executive Producer, have decided to stand down from their roles at the end of BCMG’s 2015/16 season.

Stephen helped launch BCMG in 1987 and became the ensemble’s Artistic Director in 2001. Jackie was also a founding member of the BCMG team, and has overseen BCMG productions and management from the beginning as its first Administrator, then as General Manager and most recently, as Executive Producer.

Stephen Newbould comments:

“By summer 2016, Jackie and I will have led the BCMG team for 15 years, having been part of this exhilarating enterprise for over 25, and the time feels right to pass on our respective batons. We told the Board of our decision last summer. It has been a privilege and joy working with BCMG’s passionate, committed musicians and with so many wonderful composers and artists, bringing new music to our ever-enquiring audiences. Though it will be a huge wrench to leave our remarkable colleagues, as we move on to our next challenge we will be excited to watch the future development of a company we love and admire.”

Jackie Newbould comments:

“As the years have raced by, I have become joyfully aware that this must be one of the best arts jobs in the country and I am lucky not only to have had it, but to have had so much fun and so many invigorating experiences in doing it. It’s an immense privilege to have been part of BCMG, working with such treasured performing artists, composers, management, board and audiences since the Group’s beginnings. I am looking forward to our final season with relish and celebration, and then to the leap onto the next mountain for another view.”