From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

We do this so you don’t have to. The flow of Christmas albums has slimmed in recent years but there is still a belief in the music industry that nothing sells at Christmas like an opera singer. Is that still true?

I sampled…

Read on here.


David Pountney has shared the sad news that Ralph Koltai died this morning.

A Hitler refugee, Koltai reached England in 1939 and, after war service, became a pioneer of modernism in British theatre.

Aside from much work at the National Theatre, he designed more than 100 operas, including The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahogany for Sadlers Wells Opera under the guidance of Lotte Lenya,and Reginald Goodall’s Ring Cycle (1970-1981) for the English National Opera.

A list of his designs can be found here.  

Name the opera?

Message from Steven Honigberg of the National Symphony Orchestra:

Nightmare at O’Hare airport with my cello. Security refused to pass the cello through the X-ray machine because it didn’t fit into one of their new “high tech” plastic bins, although there was more than enough room on the rollers.

Ten minutes of arguing got me nowhere and my blood pressure up, not to mention making people around me feel uncomfortable. I ended up passing my 1796 Storioni cello over my shoulders to other security personnel – the cello being out of sight – for ten minutes, while I had to deal with my own security lane. Shame on you O’hare airport whose security personnel disparaged me into feeling noxious.


The Russian mezzo-soprano Aigul Akhmetshina jumped in as Carmen last night at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

Nothing unusual about that, except that Aigul is just 22 and we can’t remember so young a Carmen on any major stage.

Can you?

Photo: Neil Gillespie

The US tenor Carl Tanner stepped in last night at the Metropolitan Opera to sing the season premiere performance of Verdi’s Otello, in place of Stuart Skelton.

Tanner, 56, made his Met debut eight years ago after coming late to singing from a varied career.

No reviews have yet appeared.

Were you there?

Carl’s only comment so far: ‘A great night had by all! And yes, I’ve lost weight;)’

FIRST REVIEW: It was tepid

From NBC News:

by Chad Dyar

I’m a classically trained opera singer. I studied vocal performance at Northwestern and started professional life performing with opera companies around the country, singing everything from “Turandot” to “The Magic Flute” to “La Bohème”. Then I turned to musical theater, joining productions of “West Side Story”, “Grease”, “Rent” and a dozen more.

All of this prepared me for a career as a sales director in tech….

I had developed unique communication skills. As a singer, I had to think through every word to figure out the broader message I was trying to get across. I had to be a storyteller, taking listeners on an emotional journey. To “sell” that story, I had to buy into and believe every note.

I also learned discipline, commitment, and how to work closely — harmoniously — with different groups of people so that we could execute our mission together. This meant building relationships, understanding people, and negotiating. I had to adjust my presentation, even down to small nuances, in order to work best with each team….

Read on here.


Urusla Strebi, daughter of the Lucerne lawyer Walter Strebi, grew up in the company of great musicians.

Her father was the brains behind the Lucerne Festival and the personal adviser to musicians with a Nazi-era past. The family’s home movies are fascinating, not least for glimpses of Dinu Lipatti, who did not have long to live.

Watch here.

Ursula married the brass ensemble founder Philip Jones and lived her adult life happily in London.