Uwe Eric Laufenberg, who’s directing Parsifal at Bayreuth this summer, has a day job as Intendant at Wiebaden, where he has just announced a Ring cycle for next season.

Laufenberg will direct the four operas.

The conductor is Alexander Joel, 45, formerly music director at Braunschweig.

alexander joel

A cautionary tale from the award-winning London cellist Guy Johnston:


guy johnston


A bizarre and frightening experience I have to share.. and it wasn’t a dream!

Many crazy things happened yesterday – it just seemed like one of those days. Unfortunately, it was my fault in the evening driving to a rehearsal and in a flash knocking a cyclist off her bike. I just didn’t see her. I heard a sound on my wing mirror and then saw the cyclist motionless on the ground in my rear view mirror. I had been looking over my right shoulder to see if anything was coming at a junction, and in that moment of turning back to see what was ahead of me I must have clipped her.

I am now a part of one of those frightening statistics that you hear about on the news with accidents involving cyclists. But it was quite a scene and almost farcical in the way things unfolded. For a start, Jason Donovan was the first to arrive on the scene – his house was right near where it happened and he was there in an instant having just got out of his car.

I was told to stand to one side (in shock) by a few people offering a helping hand, and a number of medics who happened to be passing by also made sure the girl was comfortable. My heart sank seeing her lying there and all those thoughts of what her injuries might be were whirling through my mind. Was I imagining all this?! The ambulance seemed to be taking an age and in the meantime two buses had stopped the traffic flow by parking in the middle of the road. One of the drivers got out to see if all was ok and FORGOT TO PUT THE BREAK ON!!! So someone yelled at her and she ran back into the bus as quickly as she had run out to stop it from rolling with all its passengers towards us! Finally the ambulance arrived. There had been so much care around (although I was the villain on the side) that in the end the girl felt comfortable enough to stand up, which was the greatest relief.

She was communicating fine and just in a lot of shock. I kept saying sorry trying to work out what happened in my head. It wasn’t long before the police arrived and I was being breathalysed and questioned – at least my car was insured, had recently past its service and MOT and my new drivers licence had arrived only the other week. No points, no alcohol.. this all made me feel better to a point!

News came back that the girl really was doing ok, which was further relief to hear. Then the last part of this bizarre story was to do with an elderly man who was asking the police for a lift home. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t remember where his home was, where he had come from, and what his name was, which made things somewhat complex for the police! But for a brief moment I had to have a chuckle, particularly as in the end all was seemingly being restored despite such a foolish mistake by me. Jason Donovan went home (after a few selfies with some of the helpers!), the bus didn’t roll into anyone, the young slightly crazy chap (possibly on weed) directing and swearing at all the traffic didn’t get caught by the police, the old man was finally returned home, and thank God the poor girl was ok!

For now, I suffer in silence and Schubert has been a comfort today in Hamburg. Deep breath. I can’t help thinking with this experience what a chaotic world we live in and that I/we should all SLOW DOWN!

 jason donovan

It has become abundantly clear that the turmoil at the Bucharest National Opera is about the rise of Romanian chauvinism.

Johan Kobborg made it clear earlier today that he was fired by a conductor who insisted everyone spoke Romanian.

Outside the opera house, dancers were barracked by backstage staff who shouted ‘foreigners leave the country -this is our national opera’.

Alina Cojocaru, in tears, announced that she and 30 other dancers will leave immediately. Cojocaru, who is married to Kobborg, is the country’s star ballerina.


alina cojocaru tears

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s last president Jeff Melanson earned himself a good deal of global discredit a year ago by bowing to pressure from local Ukrainians and cancelling a concerto date with the virulently pro-Russian, pro-separatist pianist Valentina Lisitsa.

Now Melanson has gone for reasons unconnected with post-Soviet politics and, days later, Listisa ia back in Toronto.

Review here.


lisitsa zakharchenko

They will be crowing and in Zagreb tonight after winning the 150,000 Euro Fedora award for best modern opera – and it hasn’t even been staged.

The winning opera is Kein Licht, with text by the Austrian Nobel Laureate Elfriede Jelinek and music by the French composer Philippe Manoury (pictured).

A co-pro between Croatian National Opera and the Paris Opera Comique, it will be staged next year in Paris, Zagreb and Luxembourg. More here.

philippe manoury

Interesting joint venture from Opera North and West Yorksihre Playhouse in Leeds, England.

The result of the first major collaboration between two of the North’s leading arts organisations, the West Yorkshire Playhouse and Opera North, premieres this June as a sparkling new production of Into the Woods opens in Leeds. Directed by West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining and with a cast drawn from the Chorus of Opera North, this darkly comic fable explores what happens when the characters from several well-known fairy tales collide. The result is often startling, always entertaining – and with some classic Sondheim lyrics along the way.

The press night is at the West Yorkshire Playhouse on Wednesday 8 June.



There has been a lot of musical hand-wringing about the closure of the City of London Festival, revealed exclusively in Slipped Disc yesterday. Not much of it is very perceptive.

The COLF died because it had outlived its usefulness.

The proof?

Its artistic director Paul Gudgin departed last October and no-one seemed to notice, or to care that the festival had failed to contact them any time since with proposals, bookings and inquiries. It had become peripheral, inessential.

Festivals have a time and place. If they outlive the first, they cannot maintain the second.

The sadness is that festivals take time to grow a national and international reputation, five or ten years at least. To lose that reputation is a loss for all, and consequences will follow. Other festival boards will be looking at their balance sheets this week, wondering if it is all worth while.

city of london festival


I checked in just before midnight at the Carlyle to find a poster in the elevator for the week’s entertainment in the bar.

Cabaret with….

katherine jenkins

No, I won’t review.

Marcel Farago, a Budapest Holocaust survivor who played in the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1955 to 1994, has died, aged, 92.

Obit here.

marcel farago

The orchestra has named Guillermo Figueroa, 63, as its next principal conductor. The choice of a familiar collaborator was made by the musicians.

Figueroa, 63, is music director of the Music in the Mountains Festival in Durango, Colo., and of the Lynn Philharmonia at the conservatory of Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. He was formerly music director of the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, concertmaster of New York City Ballet, and a founding member and concertmaster of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in New York City.

He is most familiar to audiences here through his position as music director of the Albuquerque-based New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, which he led from 2000 until its bankruptcy and demise in 2011.


The LA Phil are putting on a Mozart and Part Festival at the end of May, ten concerts conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

Just to make sure they’ve got enough to play, the Estonian composer has written a piece called Greater Antiphons, to be premiered on May 28.

More here.


arvo part praemium imperiale

Johan Kobborg was fired last week by a new boss at Bucharest National Opera. The boss has since been demoted. Kobborg, however, has decided to fire back.

This morning he submitted his formal resignation.


More here.

Johan kobborg