The Academy of Ancient Music, founded by Christopher Hogwood and struggling since his death in 2014, has named ex-Decca producer Alexander Van Ingen as its new chief exec.

Its previous manager left in November. 

The accomplished mezzo Sally Burgess was co-opted today onto the baffled board of English National Opera, where she has been singing since 1978.

If only other board members had equivalent experience.

photo: Bill Knight

Jonathan Sutherland recounts an unsettling incident last night in Stockholm:

The American tenor Leonardo Capalbo had an unnerving experience last night at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm.

He was singing Gustavo in a new production of Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera directed by Tobias Theorell.  The important Act III Sc. 2  monologue ‘Forse la soglia attinse’ was sung from the Royal Box at proscenium stage-left instead of in front of the curtain or in a small part of the stage as is usually the case.

The Royal Box in Stockholm is accessible only to members of the Swedish royal family and is usually empty. To use the box in the staging, Theorell obtained the written permission of King Carl Gustav. 

Capalbo entered the box to sing the demanding scena and was startled to find two people dressed in black hiding in the corner, whether in search of a better seat or for more nefarious purposes.

He proceeded with the difficult recitative and coda, despite muffled talking by the two interlopers. The intruders were not visible to conductor Pier Giorgio Morandi or to most of the audience.

Memories of the fate of the real Gustavus III were obviously not far from Capalbo’s mind yet he managed to finish the emotionally draining scena to cheers and applause.

Before returning to the stage for the Festa da ballo e Coro, Capalbo informed stage management about the intruders but officials found the box empty.


Sounds like Stockholm needs a security upgrade.

Statistics from the Deutsche Orchester-Vereinigung DOV show a ten percent increase in classical concerts last year. There were 13,800 events of which 5,800 were symphonic.

The DOV’s MD Gerald Mertens said classical concerts drew an attendance of 18.2 million, around 40 percent more than the football Bundesliga.

There were more concertgoers aged 20 to 29 than those aged 50 to 59.

Mertens regards this as a step change in social habits. It might be unique to Germany.

A singer in post-War Vienna had to struggle for food.

Sonja Knittel, who was 22 in 1945, got herself an audition in Zurich. From there, she returned to Vienna’s Volksoper for three years before joining Nuremberg Opera in 1954, remaining there for the rest of her long career. She was renowned in operetta.

Her death was reported today in Nuremburg.

The Berg researcher Douglas Jarman has come up with disturbing evidence that Alban Berg toyed with a slogan from a banned rightwing organisation as a structural theme for his valedictory masterpiece.

The concerto is dedicated to the memory of Alma Mahler’s daughter, Manon, but there were other influences at work and Berg was keen in 1935 to ease the ban on his music in Nazi Germany.

Read Jarman’s important and revealing essay here.


The Welsh ‘opera’ singer admits she is way out of her depth in singing a leading role in Carousel on the Coliseum stage. ‘I’ve been doing a lot of work for the last two months privately to prepare myself for this day, from acting coaches to music coaches….’

But too late now to turn back. Interview here.

From Arts Professional:

Low subscriber rates, minimal commercial opportunities and barriers to entry for arts organisations have forced Arts Council England (ACE)’s £1.8m Youtube network for the arts to readjust as it enters its final year of funding.

Canvas will no longer require arts organisations signing up to the network to hand over their video rights, and has switched focus from commercialising videos to providing digital services and training.

More here.


Lionel Bringuier has pulled out of next month’s Carmen ‘for personal reasons’, whatever that might mean.

The young Frenchman’s withdrawal has left the Opéra scrambling for last-minute replacements.

According to ForumOpera, Bertrand de Billy will conduct on March 10, 19, 22 and 25 plus April 11 and 14. Giacomo Sagripanti will cover March 13, 16, 28, 31 and April 2, 5 and 8. Mark Elder takes over the run in June and July.

Chris Russell in LA reminds us of the 1964 Oscars when Sammy Davis Jr was given the wrong envelope for winner of Best Score. He announced the wrong one. Conductor and orchestra, who had been primed for the right winner, looked up in consternation. The error was quickly corrected.




Esa-Pekka’s cello concerto for Yo-Yo premieres in Chicago on March 9, 10 and 11.

photo: Todd Rosenberg

More truth here than you’d expect.