This is the image you will see when going online to purchase Met tickets for Idomeneo.

The red dots are the unsold seats.

At least two-thirds of the orchestra stalls, priced from $85 to $300, are vacant. For Friday night, which ought by rights to be full of weekenders.

Crisis, what crisis?


The Queen today knighted a bass-baritone.

photo: PA pool


No 21st century US opera has earned as much acclaim as Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves, premiered last September by Opera Philadelphia, which is making the most of its success.

From Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at 1 p.m. the world can listen to an audio stream of the opera right here.

Bookmark it.



September 6, 2017 will mark ten years since the great tenor’s death.

The other two will top a commemoration bill that night at the Arena di Verona.

Other names have yet to be announced. Bare announcement here.


The Australian pianist, subject of a 1996 film, has announced his first UK performances since that time.

He will appear at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, and the Barbican in London on May 27 and 29 with the following programme:

Chopin Ballade No 1 in G minor
Concert Etude No. 3 Un Sospiro
Liszt Jeux d’eau a la Villa d’Este
Liszt Ballade No. 2 in B minor
David Helfgott piano
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 3 (version for two pianos)
David Helfgott piano; Rhodri Clarke piano

The annual theatre awards tilt heavily in favour of the artistic director that the Arts Council got fired from English National Opera. Berry commissioned four of the shortlisted performances. Then he got sacked.

He is unlikely to be invited to the awards dinner.


Two of the ENO nominees have since rebelled against his successors. Mar Wigglesworth resigned as music director and Stuart Skelton said the wrong people are now running the Coliseum.

Here’s the shortlist:
Best new opera production

4.48 Psychosis at the Lyric Hammersmith
*Akhnaten at London Coliseum
Così Fan Tutte at Royal Opera House
*Lulu at London Coliseum
Outstanding achievement in opera

Renée Fleming for her performance in Der Rosenkavalier at the Royal Opera House
*Stuart Skelton for his performance in Tristan and Isolde at London Coliseum
*Mark Wigglesworth for his conducting of Don Giovanni and Lulu at London Coliseum



Daniel Harding is stepping down as principal guest conductor at the end of this season.

He will be replaced by François-Xavier Roth, who started out with the LSO as an assistant conductor in 2002. Today he is Generalmusikdirektor in Cologne.

Davi Oliveira, 22, was going about his drilling on a Sydney building site when a mate, Patrick Keating, persuaded him last week to take a Nessun Dorma break. Since then, he’s been all over the national news.

Davi, who’s from Brazil, is trying to raise enough cash in Australia so he can study music back home.

Have a listen.

The death is reported of Alberto Zedda, long-standing conductor of the Rossini Festival at Pesaro and an international authority on Handel, Bellini and Donizetti.

As a young man, he was thrown out of La Scala by Herbert von Karajan. He went on to conduct at all the major Italian opera houses, including La Scala, as well as Covent Garden,Vienna, Paris, the Mariinsky, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He was an irrepressible enthusiast for Rossini and worked closely with Claudio Abbado on the new editions.

Alberto Zedda died yesterday in Pesaro.

The title is a tongue-twister – Sardanapalus – based on a Byron play.

Liszt worked on the opera in 1849-5o, after he gave up touring as a piano virtuoso and settled in Weimar.

He finished only one act, which was never performed. A Cambridge academic, David Trippett, has found the manuscript in Weimar and prepared it for a premiere this summer.

You can hear an exclusive aria here.

And watch a background report:

press release:

An Italian opera by Franz Liszt – left incomplete and largely forgotten in a German archive for nearly two centuries – will be given its world premiere this summer after being resurrected by a Cambridge academic.

David Trippett, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Music at the University of Cambridge, first discovered the opera languishing in an archive in Weimar more than ten years ago. Known only to a handful of Liszt scholars, the manuscript – with much of its music written in shorthand and only one act completed – was assumed to be fragmentary, often illegible and consequently indecipherable.

However, after Trippett spent the last 2 years working critically on the manuscript, a ten-minute preview will now be performed for the first time in public as part of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World contest in June.

“In 1849 Liszt began composing an Italian opera, but he abandoned it halfway through and the music he completed has lain silently in an archive for nearly 170 years,” said Trippett. “This project is about bringing it to life for the very first time.”

“The music that survives is breath-taking – a unique blend of Italianate lyricism and harmonic innovation. There is nothing else quite like it in the operatic world. It is suffused with Liszt’s characteristically mellifluous musical language, but was written at a time that he was first discovering Wagner’s operas.

“The only source for this opera is a single manuscript containing 111 pages of music for piano and voices. It was always assumed to be impossible to piece together, but after examining the notation in detail, it became clear Liszt had notated all the cardinal elements for act 1. You have to think through the artistic decisions traceable in the manuscript and try to reconstruct the creative process, to see how Liszt’s mind went this way and that.”

A critical edition of the music for act 1 will be published by Editio Musica Budapest (Universal Music Publishing) in 2018. Although Trippett has worked alone on rescuing the music Liszt notated, Cambridge’s Francesca Vella has worked on deciphering the Italian text alongside musicologist David Rosen, whose principal role has been to translate the libretto into English.

The libretto, based on Lord Byron’s tragedy Sardanapalus, tells the story of Sardanapalo, King of Assyria, a peace-loving monarch, more interested in revelry and women than politics and war. He deplores violence and brutality, and, perhaps naively, he believes in the innate goodness of humankind, but is overthrown by rebels and burns himself alive with his lover, Mirra, amid scents and spices in a great inferno.

A ten-minute scene from the opera will be performed at the final of the BBC Singer of the World event by Armenian soprano and rising talent Anush Hovhannisyan.

“In effect, the manuscript has been hiding in plain sight for well over 100 years,” added Trippett. “It was written for Liszt’s eyes only, and has various types of musical shorthand, with spatial gaps in the manuscript. A lot of it is very hard to read, but the scruffiness is deceptive. It seems Liszt worked out all the music in his head before he put pen to paper, and to retrieve this music, I’ve had to try and put myself into the mind of a 19th-century composer, a rare challenge and a remarkable opportunity.

“Fortunately, Liszt left just enough information to retrieve what was evidently the continuous musical conception he had at the time. We will never know exactly why he abandoned his work on the opera and I suspect he would have been surprised to learn that it is resurfacing in the 21st century. But I like to think he would have smiled on it.”

Ahead of the BBC event in June, Trippett and his colleagues are putting the finishing touches to a documentary film for the University of Cambridge chronicling the resurrection of Liszt’s forgotten masterpiece, with singers Anush Hovhannisyan (soprano), Samuel Sakker (tenor) and Arshak Kuzikyan (bass-baritone). This will be released on 15 May.

“Who else gets to premiere a new opera by a superstar composer from two centuries ago?” said soprano Hovhannisyan. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and the entire process of making it work – from thinking about the character and what Liszt would want – has been a privilege. We have had a wonderful, deeply creative and imaginative time piecing this together and I feel very blessed to have been a part of it.”

Martin James Bartlett, winner of BBC Young Musician 2014, is the standout name among 30 finalists selected for the Van Cliburn Competition.

Other prizewinners taking part are Yuri Favorin, who came fourth in the Reine Elisabeth, and Ilya Maximov, winner of the Viotti.


Full list:

Martin James Bartlett, United Kingdom, 20
Sergey Belyavskiy, Russia, 23
Alina Bercu, Romania, 27
Kenneth Broberg, United States, 23
Luigi Carroccia, Italy, 25
Han Chen, Taiwan, 25
Rachel Cheung, Hong Kong, 25
Yury Favorin, Russia, 30
Madoka Fukami, Japan, 28
Mehdi Ghazi, Algeria/Canada, 28
Caterina Grewe, Germany, 29
Daniel Hsu, United States, 19
Alyosha Jurinic, Croatia, 28
Nikolay Khozyainov, Russia, 24
Dasol Kim, South Korea, 28
Honggi Kim, South Korea, 25
Su Yeon Kim, South Korea, 23
Julia Kociuban, Poland, 25
Rachel Kudo, United States, 30
EunAe Lee, South Korea, 29
Ilya Maximov, Russia, 30
Sun-A Park, United States, 29
Leonardo Pierdomenico, Italy, 24
Philipp Scheucher, Austria, 24
Ilya Shmukler, Russia, 22
Yutong Sun, China, 21
Yekwon Sunwoo, South Korea, 28
Georgy Tchaidze, Russia, 29
Tristan Teo, Canada, 20
Tony Yike Yang, Canada, 18