The gold-medal cellist Zlatomir Fung, 20, has been recruited by the Kirshbaum Associates agency.

The first American in three decades to win cello gold in Moscow, he joins the likes of Pinchas Zukerman and Andras Schiff on the ex-publicist’s list.


A columnist on the influential Spanish daily El Pais has come out in vigorous defence of the opera singer, whom he describes as a personal friend and a great philanthropist.

Domingo, writes Ruben Amon, has been harshly treated by the opera world after nine women, eight of them anonymous, accused him of being a sexual predator.

Amon writes: ‘I think I know Domingo well enough to state that it is unlikely he has abused or harassed women. Or had relationships without consent. Domingo is not a criminal. ‘

He adds: ‘Domingo is an altruist who has dedicated more time, faculties and energy than anyone else to the cause of music, music lovers and fellow-professionals…. His Operalia contest (pictured) represents the future of opera.’

Read more here.

This looks like the start of a fightback, rallying the Hispanic world to his corner.

UPDATE: A second defender in El Pais is the Basque soprano Ainhoa Arteta. She says: ‘I know he is not a stalker (of women), he would (rather) put his hand in the fire.’

Paloma San Basilio, who made a record with Domingo said: ‘I can only affirm that Mr. Domingo was always a gentleman with me, a great companion and a generous artist, of those there are not many, and with whom I had the privilege of sharing the stage.’

The soprano Pilar Jurado added: ‘He is a perfect gentleman (who has been) ‘fighting gender violence for many years’.

Read also: Domingo’s choices


The  Incorporated Society of Musicians has written to the Boris Johnson Government warning that a no-deal Brexit will cost British musicians who carry an instrument an extra £1,000 a year.

It argues that:

– Musicians will be required to purchase carnets – temporary international customs documents that allow instruments and sound equipment to move temporarily outside the UK – which cost in the region of £500-700, depending on the value of the goods. It is currently possible to take instruments to countries in the EU for free and purchasing an ATA Carnet is a significant extra cost to be forced upon musicians which will become a huge barrier for many musicians touring the EU27.

Musicians will also face numerous additional costs including:

– Private medical insurance, which would become essential in a no-deal Brexit as EHIC provision would cease, would set a musician without a pre-existing medical condition back around £70 per year, but it could be as high as £320 for a musician with a pre-existing medical condition.
– Musical Instrument Certificates, which are only required for instruments containing endangered species according to CITES (including ivory, rosewood, tortoiseshell) are currently free but are set to incur a charge in 2020 (amount unknown). Examples: some violin bows contain ivory and some guitars contain rosewood.
– Musicians who drive to the continent will need to purchase an International Driving Permit costing £5.50.
– If A1 forms become obsolete on 1 November, musicians must also ensure that they are not liable for double deductions of social security payments in other EU countries by contacting the relevant EU social security institution to check.
– If visas are introduced to work in the EU27/EEA, this is likely to cause considerable financial and administrative burden to musicians.

Tasmin Little OBE, violinist, said:

‘A musician’s life is based around travel therefore ease of movement is an essential requirement. Any country that values a rich cultural and musical life understands that diversity is only possible if musical communities remain international; and this can only happen if there is absolute freedom to travel, both with regard to planned tours as well as last-minute engagements. It is as essential for musicians from the UK to travel abroad with ease, as it is for artists from outside the UK to enter the country to work. The amount of red tape is increasing to an enormous proportion, and this is beginning to have a major negative impact on musicians, both in terms of time spent as well as cost involved. We call upon the government to understand these issues, ease these difficulties and enable us to continue to give our best and do our jobs without hindrance and excessive extra costs.’

We have been notified of the death of Clifford Bartlett, whose King’s Music publishing company brought to light and edited a host of baroque and early scores for modern-day performers.

Bartlett, a quiet man with two handicapped adult children, was saved by leading artists from losing his home in 2015 after his business was crashed by fraudsters.


A Russian auction house is putting up for sale a cache of ten love letters between Dmitri Shostakovich and the Bolshoi ballerina Nina Pavlovna Ivanova, a relationship unknown until now. ‘Fate has sent me great happiness in you,’ he tells her.

The letters, dated 1935 to 1939, are passionate and persistent. Shostakovich aimed to marry Nina ‘in 3-4 months’, oblivous of the fact that he was already married to the scientist, Nina Varzar – albeit in an open relationship – and had two small children.

His affair with the ballerina took place in the thick of Stalin’s terror, following the official attack on Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and the composition of the fifth symphony. The letters are of more than prurient importance.

The auction house is expecting bids in the region of $10,000.


The American conductor James Gaffigan says he will leave the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra in 2021, having been chief conductor since 2010. Gaffigan, 40, has given the orchestra a higher international profile than it ever enjoyed before.

He holds another post as principal guest at Dutch Radio.

Put yourselves in the shoes of the former tenor’s image team today.

He has been accused by nine women, only one of them named, of offering career advancement in exchange for sex. There was no physical threat to their security and he knew when to take No for an answer.

On the scale of major #Metoo offences, this is medium-grade. Still unproven. And denounced by Domingo as inaccurate.

So far, two organisations – Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Opera – have cancelled his involvement in their galas.

LA Opera, where he is general manager, has called in lawyers to test the allegations. The Met, where he is due to sing Verdi’s Macbeth next month, says it will abide by LA Opera’s conclusions.

The Salzburg Festival’s president Halga Rabl-Stadler says nothing has been proven against him and she expects him to sing in Verdi’s Luisa Miller in two weeks’ time.

That’s where things stand.

So what will Domingo do?

The easy option would be to resign his job at LA Opera – he is 78, after all – and thereby eliminate being in any position where he could influence the casting of future operas. That’s the emergency cord if things get suddenly worse.

More radical would be to announce his retirement from singing, conducting and directing. That’s the least likely.

The advisors will tell him to follow the playbook of Charles Dutoit or Daniele Gatti. Get lawyered up to stop further damage. Go East, old man, to perform in Japan and China until the furore dies down. Come back in a year’s time with a new set of plans – a new orchestra, maybe – and live out his time as if #Metoo never happened.

Opera’s casting-couch culture will not be affected.

UPDATE: Voices are raised in Domingo’s defence

The Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester has appointed Marina Grauman, 24, as first concertmaster. She starts next month.

Of Russian origin, Marina has been studying with Ulf Wallin at the Hanns Eisler School of Music and at the Berlin Phil’s Karajan Academy. She is a member of the ARD prizewinning Trio Marvin.