This just popped up on my home page…. I’ll be round there one of these wintry nights.

Click here for details.


Our friend Valerio Tura is a conoisseur of the little-known 1930s crossover zone between swing singers, rhythm-and-blues and grand opera.

Try this from the Delta Rhythm Boys.

rigoletto rhythm

Two weeks ago, while rehearsing her orchestra, Zaeth Ritter Arenas collapsed in the podium.

On September 27, she died in hospital.

Zaeth was sister of the successful pianist  Rodolfo Ritter Arenas.

Our sympathies to her family.



from the press release:

DALLAS, OCTOBER 2, 2015 – The Dallas Opera is proud to present one of the most eagerly anticipated new operas of the year: Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s GREAT SCOTT, featuring a once-in-a-lifetime cast headed by America’s favorite mezzo-soprano, Joyce DiDonato, in the title role of Arden Scott; also starring soprano Ailyn Pérez, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, baritone Nathan Gunn, countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, bass Kevin Burdette, tenor Rodell Rosel and baritone Michael Mayes.



In McNally’s original story and libretto, international opera star Arden Scott returns to her hometown to try to save the struggling opera company that launched her to fame and fortune. However, as American Opera prepares for the world premiere of Rosa Dolorosa, figlia di Pompei (“Rosa Dolorosa, Daughter of Pompeii”) the nearly 200-year old bel canto opera Arden recently discovered – she faces unexpected competition from an ambitious young soprano as well as community excitement surrounding the local professional football team’s first Super Bowl (Go Grizzlies!).  The fate of the opera company hangs in the balance as Arden is forced to consider the personal sacrifices she has made for her career, and comes to understand that true greatness is a matter of heart.


Our weekend post about past relations between Pierre Boulez and his teacher has elicited this vivid memoir from clarinettist, John Hixson.


I grew up as a fan of the elusive Pierre Boulez, and having played Sacre under his lack of a baton on the Eb clarinet with a bit of rubato in a 5/7 passage, he stopped, took it from the top again, and I thought it was better to play with more exacting rhythm. In an unusual gesture, he made eye contact, gave a slight smile, and nodded.

Pierre is warmer in person than most would know from media. Impressed and moved by that, and by many conversations and meetings after, I was well read about his studies with Olivier Messiaen, another of my heroes. Pierre did get a bit teary-eyed at the following true story.

The conductor Gerry Schwartz, ex-principal trumpet at NY Phil, created a festival called Waterloo. It was a summer long festival based on principal players from good orchestras, and promising students. We were housed in the hallowed halls of Princeton University, which is my home town, and the best of the best soloists would come play. On a different note, I would enjoy conversations with Milton Babbitt and David Diamond, who were great friends, that would surprise many. We only wished Elliott Carter were there.

The concerts were held in Stanhope, New Jersey at the Waterloo Village.

One concert was to start with the US premiere of Un Sourire by Olivier Messiaen, in honour of the smile that Mozart’s music conveys. Conductor was Karl Anton Rickenbacher, a personal friend of Messiaen. Next was Brahms 4th. It was the summer of 1991.

It was a great team – Principal flute was Michael Parloff, from the Met Opera, John Ferillo, oboe, from the Met, leader was an extraordinary violinist from Finland, leader of Seattle Symphony, Gerry’s band. Clarinettist should have been Charlie Russo, a combative type from NYC Opera who had no interest in contemporary music, so he asked me to fill in.

It went off well, and the review said Charlie Russo had an unusually good tone in the Messiaen. Slightly annoying, but bygones are bygones.

Many people know that Messiaen had a strong affinity for bird song, and he notated them very well 0and used them quite musically, probably much to the annoyance of a more intellectually inclined Boulez.

But then, the most incredible thing happened.

In the first movement of the Brahms, a bird flew to the podium of Rickenbacher. It then perched on the leader’s stand, and as Rickenbacher held out his left hand as a gesture of legato, the bird flew to his hand.

It stayed there for the remainder of the entire first movement of the Brahms 4th to every knowledgeable person’s astonishment, and it was gently escorted before the 2nd movement to stage right by Maestro Rickenbacher.

We all slightly had to wonder… but we played it to close to the vest.

Parloff said to me, “nice trading high C’s perfectly in tune.” Ferillo just looked a bit stunned. Most of everyone else didn’t get the significance of what happened and I am inclined to think it is a coincidence.

But a pretty damn strong one at that.


photographer unknown. text (c) John Hixson/SlippedDisc

The LA Phil music director published a strongly reasoned piece last week declaring his love from Venezuela and a zone of disengagement between him and its ruling regime.

His longterm antagonist, the pianist Gabriela Montero, has read the piece and thinks otherwise. Slipped Disc does not endorse either side in the personal aspect of this dispute. Here’s Gabi’s take, published on her social media:

abreu dudamel

Gabriela Montero: I have been asked repeatedly since Dudamel’s op-ed my thoughts on his statement that he is “not political”.

In my opinion, if you are not political you do not:

– Perform repeatedly over the years for a dictator in numerous public events.
– Have numerous photos taken in public (or private) events with the dictators and his accomplices.
– Accept to be flown in on a government private jet to perform at the closing of one of the last independent TV channels left in your country to lead your orchestra in the opening of the NEW state/socialist channel.
– Perform at and pay your respects, visibly shaken, at the funeral of the dictator.
– Perform for regime officials and the general public on the day peaceful protesting students are murdered by that same regime which funds your orchestra.
– Party with regime officials who are publicly known to be your personal friends.
– Watch a movie you are involved with at the Presidential Palace with the dictator. (This was commented on proudly by Maduro on TV)
– State that you “Have respect for Venezuela’s leaders and the offices they hold” when many of the said officials are known to be involved in corruption and allegedly also facilitate and lead the drug trafficking cartels in South America.

So on, and so on….


gabriela montero colours

If Gustavo is “apolitical”, then:

– Where are the performances for the other half (or more!) of Venezuela? The opposition?
– Where are the numerous photos with the opposition leaders and victims of the regime?
– Where is the denouncement of the blatant violations of human rights of Venezuelans by the regime?
– Where are his statements concerning the arbitrary imprisonment of Leopoldo Lopez and the other 75 opposition leaders and students? Many of them tortured and held in inhumane conditions?
– Where is his outrage at the absolute collapse of his country at the hands of the authoritarian regime? His outrage at the lack of security, food, medicines, justice, etc…

It seems to me that if you promote and lend your image, your time and your music to one faction, it is that group that you belong to and stand by.

That is not someone being apolitical. It is someone being VERY political but not wanting to openly disclose it.


The Norwegian mezzo Lilly Jørstad (centre), sacked by La Scala’s Academy as ‘unsuitable’ for a second year of studies, has been rehired by the theatre for a children’s production of Cenerentola.

More here at Gramilano.

lilly jorstad

The Met’s music director has pulled out of one of his signature pieces.

The company says James Levine, 72, wants to reserve his early-season energies for Tannhäuser.

Talk of a sidekick and successor has warmed up again. Lothar Koenigs will stand in for Lulu.


press release:

Faced with the demands of rehearsing and performing two large-scale operas simultaneously this fall, Met Music Director James Levine has decided to lighten his workload by removing the new production of Berg’s Lulu from his schedule so that he may focus his energies completely on Wagner’s epic drama Tannhäuser. 

The Warsaw contest is well under weigh and the organisers have published the list of pianos that contestants have chosen to play. Apparently, they are given 15 minutes to decide.

Most picked a Yamaha or a Steinway.

Next came Kawai.

Only one contestant chose a Fazioli.

And not a  Bechstein, Bösendorfer or Pleyel in sight.


Olga Erdelyi, soloist of the Bolshoi Symphony for 40 years and teacher at the Moscow Conservatoire for 45, has died at the age of 89.

The pre-eminent harpist in Soviet times, Olga was the niece and pupil of Ksenia Alexandrovna Erdely (1878-1971), for whom Reinhold Gliere wrote his much-played harp concerto.

This was her last public recital, in 1992.

olga erdelyipainting by Vasily Millioti

Jessica Schmitz was trying to board a plane at Chicago, heading for Houston where she’s playing on the Arijit Singh tour, when security officials treated her in the most appalling way.

Here’s what she tells Slipped Disc:

Studio portraits of Jessica Schmitz taken on April 24, 2009. Credit: ©Stephanie Berger

At O’Hare, I just had the worst instrument TSA travel experience of my entire life. I’ve flown with my flute at least a few thousand times, and it’s frequent they ask to look at the case, even open it, to see what it is. But today a power- hungry agent decided to mess with me and said my flute headjoint needed to be removed from its case and run thru the X-ray LOOSE in a bin.

I said this was absolutely not an option, despite three supervisors assuring me my flute made of gold “would be fine” rattling around in a bin. And when I insisted that this was not, in fact, “standard procedure” and closed the case so they wouldn’t damage it, they called the Chicago Police department to have me removed from the airport.

And that was just the beginning.

As the Chicago police were taking my license and getting ready to escort me out, one TSA agent suggested wrapping the headjoint on paper towels And then running it thru xray so it wouldn’t be dented/ damaged. Since it was either that or be escorted out by the police I had to agree. She was actually quite nice and felt horrible and let me put it in the bin and wrap it while the police and guards looked on.

When it of course came back clear, she gave it back. But then I had to get a full pat down, groin, chest and all. Then the police told me it would not be on any permanent record, gave me my license and ticket.

One agent told the police I tried to hit him, which I did not. He also detained me at the gate saying I was “not allowed to leave” until the police arrived.

If I weren’t allowed on the flight I would have missed shows today and tomorrow.  When given such unchecked power the TSA are threatening not only citizens’ personal safety and civil rights, but also in this case their livelihood.


jessica schmitz

O’Hare is getting a reputation for this kind of hassle. Beware.

We have the names of the agents involved and they are being reported to the responsible authorities.

What happened next: click here.