We regret to report the death of Georges Pretre, an elegant French conductor who was popular wherever he went – nowhere more so than Vienna, which adored him.

He died this afternoon, at home in France.

Raised in northern France, Georges was director of the Opéra-Comique in Paris from 1955 to 1959. He was a stalwart of Chicago’s Lyric Opera, 1959 to 1971, and was music director of the Paris Opéra for one season, 1970-71. He was principal conductor of the Wiener Symphoniker from 1986 to 1991. He was a regular at La Scala (see below).

Mostly he freelanced around the world’s leading opera houses, giving fun and having it. He was the acme of French style in all that he did, with an infallible sense of rhythm.

In terms of leaving a mark on music history, he gave the world premiere of Poulenc’s La Voix humaine.

His farewell performance:

From La Scala:

Georges Pretre, one of the greatest conductors of our time, had a fifty-year relationship with La Scala. He made his debute in 1966 conducting a legendary production of Gounod’s Faust with Mirella Freni, Nicolai Gedda and Nicolai Ghiaurov, directed by Jean-Louis Barrault. Two years later he led Turandot directed by Margherita Wallmann, and, a few days later, Die Walküre with Régine Crespin and James King. In 1969, Roméo et Juliette by Berlioz with Liliana Cosi in the choreography of George Skibine, in 1970 Sanson et Dalila in Saint-Saëns with Shirley Verrett and Pier Miranda Ferraro in 1972 with Carmen Fiorenza Cossotto, in 1973 and 1977 Pelléas et Mélisande by Debussy directed by Gian Carlo Menotti in 1975 in Puccini’s La bohème, directed by Franco Zeffirelli with Luciano Pavarotti and Ileana Cotrubaş, in 1976 Massenet’s Werther with Alfredo Kraus and Elena Obraztsova, Madama Butterfly in 1978 and immediately after Manon Lescaut by Puccini with Sylvia Sass and Plácido Domingo in a direction of Piero Faggioni. In 1978 Ravel L’enfant et les sortileges and L’heure espagnole; back in 1981 for Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci, directed by Zeffirelli with Domingo and Obraztsova and in 1982 for Les Troyens by Berlioz in the direction of Luca Ronconi. The last operatic commitments of Prêtre at La Scala were Turandot directed by Keita Asari in 2001 and Pelleas et Melisande directed by Pierre Médecin, but he continued to give countless concerts with the orchestra.

His last, triumphant concert took place on 22 February 2016. Georges Pretre was due to return to the podium for the Symphonic Season of the Teatro alla Scala on 13, 15 and 17 March 2017.

Message from the Berkeley Symphony:

BERKELEY, CA (January 3, 2017) – Berkeley Symphony announced today that Music Director Joana Carneiro has withdrawn from the Berkeley Symphony concert on Thursday, January 26 at 8 pm at Zellerbach Hall. Carneiro is pregnant and is under doctor’s advice not to conduct or travel. The concert will be conducted by Christian Reif. The Orchestra will perform the Bay Area premiere of Mason Bates’ Cello Concerto with Joshua Roman, to whom the work is dedicated, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4.

We wish Joana good health and a safe delivery.

Sara Michelle Murawski has been fired as a principal dancer at the Pennsylvania Ballet because she’s too tall.

Sara has just finished a run of Nutcracker.

Did they only just notice she’s 5’11”? Did they audition her sitting down?

More here.

Exit Kazan airport.

Pursued by cops.

So composed.

When Pierre Audi steps down in 2019 as director of Dutch National Opera, he will fulfil a career-long dream of staging segments from Karlheinz Stockhausen’s 7-day opera cycle, titled Licht.

Sounds interesting.

But not to some audience members who are raising a petition against it here.

Their gripe?

This megalomaniac, expensive project seems to be a farewell gift for the departing intendant Pierre Audi. There is a lot of opposition from opera lovers, music journalists and opera critics. The complaints focus on the elitist selection of the project, the costs and the person of Karlheinz Stockhausen, particularly his statements about the  terror attacks of 9/11.

Aline Sam-Giao has been named director-general of l’Orchestre national de Lyon and of Auditorium Maurice Ravel.

Educated at Sussex University, she was previously chief administrator of l’Orchestre des Pays de Savoie.

Pit footage has emerged of a 1994 Vienna Rosenkavalier where the singing seems to drive the inspirational conductor to thoughts of self-destruction.


We hear from the editor of Pianist magazine that Anthony Goldstone died on Monday. He was 72.


Widely recorded, he formed a celebrated piano duo with his wife Caroline Clemmow and worked through the four-hand repertoire on their label, www.divine-art.co.uk.

Liverpool born, Athony studied in Manchester and London, where he became a regular at the BBC Proms, earning a singular accolade from Benjamin Britten for his appearance at the Last Night.

A fixture in the British musical calendar, he toured widely across the world. He was diagnosed with cancer late last year and died peacefully at home.

Our sympathies to his loved ones.


The first black singer to appear at Bayreuth, Grace Bumbry has blazed trails of glory across the opera world for more than half a century.


She made her debut in Paris in 1960 as Amneris. Wieland Wagner cast her as Venus in Tannhäuser in summer 1961. Jackie Kennedy summoned her to sing at the White House. Vienna upgraded her to soprano in Verdi’s Macbeth.

She made a much-belated Met debut as Tosca in 1971, together with conductor James Levine, also on debut.

In in 2013, she sang the Countess at the Vienna State Opera in Tchaikovsky’s Pique Dame.

Happy  birthday, amazing Grace.

This time there was no-one being hustled to the door gagged by lawyers, as there was with Andrew S. Grossman.


Margaret Selby, president of Cami Spectrum and a company veteran for 20 years, was quietly terminated over the holiday break. All references have been removed from the website. She never existed. A curt press release was issued after business hours on Christmas Eve. No reason was given.

Selby was in charge of dance at the mega-agency, representing many choreographers, among them Jessica Lang, Moses Pendleton and Alonzo King. She was a personal protégée of the late Ronald Wilford and she ran her part of the business behind closed doors. Like Grossman, she made good money but not many friends.


Further departures are expected. It looks like the world’s biggest classical agency is reinventing itself as a boutique.


Bild reports that talks to renew the conductor’s contract have stalled over a small but stubborn issue.

Thielemann is demanding more days off on tour. The Dresden Staatskapelle management say he already has more free days than his predecessors.

Thielemann, 57, has bestowed star status on the ancient but long-marginalised orchestra since he joined in 2012. His televised New Year’s concert reached 980,000 ZDF viewers, though this represents a dip on past peak years.

He would have left Dresden soonerhad he won the election to the Berlin Philharmonic last year.