Andris Nelsons casts wife as Aida

Andris Nelsons casts wife as Aida


norman lebrecht

November 20, 2015

The shape of next summer’s Tanglewood has been announced. At the heart of it is two acts of Verdi Aida with the music director’s marital partner singing the title role.

Kristine Opolais is a terrific singer and the tangled woods are lucky to have her, but when the lead headline of the upcoming festival is Mr & Mrs Music Director is doesn’t, somehow, look quite right.

Does it?


opolais nelsons wedding


press release:




  • Emil says:

    “Richard Bonynge casts wife as Lucia, Gilda, etc.” Did the world suffer as a result?

    Ms Opolais is more than capable and is truly world-class. It would be a problem if she were distinctly sub-par and got the job only through her husband. Here, it is blatantly obvious that any AD or casting director would be overjoyed at securing the services of Ms Opolais. On the contrary, you should rejoice that Nelsons is able to bring such world class artists to Boston.

    By the way, referring to a woman as Ms [Husband], such as Ms Director, smells very strongly of sexism.

    • Eddie Mars says:

      “Two acts of Verdi’s Aida’ (((((

      I wonder how many movements of Beethoven 7 he plans performing? All of them – or just a couple?

      He’s also doing Brahms PC No 1 – but hopefully not all of it, to avoid boring the audience.

    • flipthefrog says:

      This is very provoking. I remember buying an old chamber music recording with Daniel Barenboim. Had to return it to the store when I discovereed he was just playing with his wife

    • Jonathan Ellis says:

      It depends on whether one of the pair is less good, or less famous, than the other, and advancing their career by hanging on to the other’s coat-tails. One might as well refer to Richard Bonynge as Mr. Sutherland 🙂

      • Jonathan Ellis says:

        ps. note smiley in previous post. Bonynge has obviously achieved a fine career in his own right, and can be seen to be worth it: but there was no doubt which of the pair was the more famous when they were starting out.

      • Olassus says:

        It was a marriage of convenience. He slept with men, and the couple often traveled with another man in tow. At least, this is what I have been told by people who knew them.

  • Holger H. says:

    It’s corruption, even if it looks and sounds sweet. Now the artistic world is full of a huge grey zone of favorism, let’s be real. So are other professional fields.
    But this is bordering in the dark grey to the black zone.
    Maybe he learned it from Rattle.

  • Simon S. says:

    I’ve always wondered how the compliance department at EMI could fail so terribly and allow Walter Legge to cast Mrs. Legge for several recordings. The whole world of music is still suffering the consequences of this unexcusable case of nepotism.

  • Richard Townson says:

    Thank you Simon Says. Your comment brought a bit of laughter and joy into a cloudy November day.
    All I can say is that worries about nepotism is a whole lot of piffle. Kristine Opolais is an exceptional artist who deserves to be heard and lucky will be those who get a chance to hear her.

  • Justthemfacts says:

    As Gordon Gekko said in Wall Street: “Greed is Good.”

  • Brent Straughan says:

    Oh, who cares, there’s no doubt of the talent on both sides.

  • jim says:

    What a load of crap!
    As someone who actually lives in Boston and attends BSO concerts I am thrilled that having Maestro Andris as our Music Director means that we can look forward to more performances by the wonderful Kristine Opalais. Her status as one of the fastest rising and most admired sopranos in the world today is due to the talent and artistry she brings to her roles and not her marital status. We want Nelsons to regard this as his home and if performing with his friends and families helps create that bond it is all good. It’s not as if we are getting someone 2nd rate. There is not an opera house or orchestra in the world that wouldn’t like to have Ms. Opalais on it’s roster. And, as has already been pointed out, there is nothing at all unusual about musicians working with friends and family and as long as those friends and family are up to snuff, which is certainly the case here, we are all a little richer for it. What we really don’t need is the kind of petty, destructive and just plain stupid sniping that Mr. Lebrecht regularly engages in.

    • Marg says:

      Absolutely agree with you. As soon as I read the blog posting I thought “Bonynge and Sutherland” – dont recall ever reading about nepotism with them at Festivals. What a lot of silliness – she is a wonderful singer, he a great conductor. The event will be a sell out, for sure. Lucky Boston!

      • Jonathan Ellis says:

        Comments re. Bonynge and Sutherland: That’s because HE would have been nothing without HER, rather than the other way around…

    • jim says:

      Also, Galina Vishnevskaya often worked with her husband Mstislav Rostropovich. I’m sure with very little effort many more examples could be named.

  • Diego Theumann says:

    Come on ! Why not ? She is a wonderful singer,he’s an excellent conductor. What is your problem? You fear nepotism ?I do not think this should be a problem. I hope K. Opolais
    sings a magnificent Aida ! Toi,toi,toi !!!

  • Milka says:

    It isn’t the fear of nepotism that irritates , its that both are so second rate.That they have
    learnt the tricks of the trade is a given ,but if you listen carefully to each you realize
    it is smoke and mirrors. Just when you are about to be taken in by the music making
    it fails because they have used up all the tricks and have to fall back on their own
    insights which are pedestrian at best . The Wagner was a farce . There are so many better out there but alas the more discerning Bostonians are long gone and the present crowd have no idea of the orchestra’s great days and settle for the second rate . Once when the name Boston came up it was two things that came to mind base ball and the symphony orchestra now it is only baseball .

    • jim says:

      @milika – Well you’ve certainly got a bug up your behind about something and it seems to be more than just the music. You sound more like a troll than a music lover. You seem to be determined to be demeaning to everyone. You don’t like Nelsons. You don’t like Opalais. You don’t like Boston . Well, nuts to you. I’m part of that Boston audience and I have been for 45 years and I still consider it a privilege to sit in Symphony Hall and listen to our Orchestra. Maybe if you removed the wax from your brain and got over your anti-Boston bigotry you would be able to actually hear the music. But I suspect the love of music is less important to you than blowing hot air out of your pie hole. Anyone who is interested in knowing what a blowhard you are can find out for themselves by listening to the music. Every concert is available for streaming, for free. Tune in tomorrow night for the Shostakovitch 5th and the Berg Violin Concerto. The work itself has no problem standing up to the venom of internet trolls like Milka.

      • Mick says:

        Actually I think Milka sometimes has a point 😉 It’s just the way he/she/they/it express(es) …hmm… themselves. Rubs the politically correct left liberal crowd around here the wrong way.

        • jim says:

          Please tell me wth this has to do with being politically correct or politically liberal or politically conservative? I assure you that no end of the political spectrum has a monopoly on jerks and when discussing the politics of classical music the lines are particularly likely to become rather blurred.

      • jim says:

        “The Boston symphony audience are quite a dumb lot”

        “discerning Bostonians are long gone and the present crowd have no idea of the orchestra’s great days and settle for the second rate ”

        The troll who left those comments clearly has a lot of gall to then complain about other people name calling.

        However, I will have to disagree with Jewalyard on one thing. I don’t think you’re funny.

        • milka says:

          Poor Jim – seems not able to differentiate between name calling and clinical observation .

          He tells us that Milka has a bug up the behind , has he been peeking ????is he a proctologist ? We do know he is given to psychological second guessing which seems to border on the hysterical . Will he simmer down in time to enjoy the up coming concert ?

      • Daniel F. says:

        Just wondering: does Maestro Nelsons ever do a program that does NOT end in the kind of wallop guaranteed to bring him a huge ovation? Jim….please! I’ve been a BSO concert-goer since the mid-1950’s and am as big a fan of the BSO (as distinct from BSO management) as I am of the NE Patriots and the Red Sox. Management’s track record on music directors is, at best, “uneven.” Monteux and Koussevitsky were giants. Management took passes on both Mitropoulos and Bernstein–for, let’s say, non-musical reasons in both cases. Either would set the Orchestra in a new direction. Munch could be awe-inspiring one week and almost incompetent the next. Leinsdorf was high-minded but a pedant; Steinberg was a solid musician but already ill when he took the position. There were some great concerts. Levine’s years were memorable for thoughtful, wonderfully-performed concerts, and it was really sad that his health gave way at the time he was making what would have been a lasting impact on the Orchestra. Like Ozawa, Nelsons comes to the BSO with enormous hype and the sense that he will grow in office. Were that press-agents and critics who don’t want to miss the parties could make it so! Ozawa did not grow; his final years were dreadful. Nelsons may yet–who knows, but he is NOT at this time “a great conductor.”

  • Salesuma says:

    Glyndebourne anyone…………..?

  • christy says:

    The Boston Symphony has been lauded recently (winning raves in places), in Boston, NY, London, Paris, Salzburg and Milan, among others. It is on the front lines of new technology to bring classical music to more people in the digital age. It is operating in the black, with sell out audiences. Its Tanglewood schedule includes dozens of performances with world-class artists. And this is the only thing mentioned here?

  • Mick says:

    No it doesn’t 😉

  • Richard says:

    I also live in Boston and attend BSO concerts. I couldn’t care less. It’s a far bigger crime that the BSO is being driven into the ground by decade after decade of boring programming!

    I’m the same age as Nelsons but apparently his taste in music ends with Strauss and a hangover to Shostakovich. I look forward to these season announcements for I have trouble sleeping and these are the perfect cure.

  • Goodtime Lord says:

    I do think there is a point here. Mr Rattle seems to cast his wife for virtually every major mezzo role in operatic/oratorio works he does with the BPO and now the LSO. Whilst she is a great artist, there are some roles that she should have never touched. The biggest example was the Carmen recording. If it continues when he arrives at the LSO, scrutiny needs to be given that public money would be given in fees when there could be nepotism accusations.

  • emanuel-fiddler says:

    I think Norman is simply provoking a conversation. Good idea,Norman. It worked.
    There are so many examples of great musicians-family members cooperating on stage. Andres is admired by the members of the orchestra and he is their MD and also in other major orchestras, he was also a strong contender for Berlin Phil. He can chose anybody he deems worthy or sharing the stage with him in the famed venue of Tanglewood. Making such choices is his responsibility. Give him a chance and if she turns out to be a loser than talk…maybe…

    • milka says:

      But here one might make an exception ,neither seem to have much talent outside
      of the usual show bizz shtick . The singer appears clueless as to the art of singing….and one gets the feeling the conductor has learnt his trade watching TV . It is the “visual ” age
      and the second rate conductors have mastered the art of body language , waving arms
      about and looking “conductorial” win the day — orchestra members always love the conductor who demands little .

  • Milka says:

    After a gaggle of guest conductors the poor Boston audience are “given” a dozen
    weeks by the director … wow !!!! he can spare a dozen weeks !!! a lo behold his wife is with us again and then again in the summer concerts . Will wonders never cease….

  • La-di-da says:

    Did You hear the joke:

    In Heaven is made a decision to perform a Verdi-Requiem and the angels spread rhe news about it among themselves. “Oh, wornderfull, and who are the performers?”
    “Well, Toscanini will be conducting, the orchestra will ve full with Berlin and Vienna philharmonic members, in the choir members of the chor of la Scala, Ezio Pinza will sing rhe bass part, Caruso will be the tenor and Ebbe Stignani iz mezzo for the occasion!”
    “Ok, and who’s gonna sing the soprano part?”
    “Weeeellll, God has a little friend…?”