After the New York Times hypebomb, here’s a first independent view of the rising star from NY Classical Review:

.…when a soprano gets the PR blitz that Lise Davidsen has enjoyed for her introduction to the Met, it’s hard to miss. The company managed to draw what looked like a sellout crowd the day after Thanksgiving for the season premiere of Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, after a lengthy profile in the New York Times in which Antonio Pappano called the Norwegian soprano “A one-in-a-million voice” and Peter Gelb dubbed her “the next great Brünnhilde.” 

Those predictions will have to wait for now, but there’s no question Davidsen scored a major success in her house debut as Lisa. She boasts a voice of startling power, with bright color and warmth from top to bottom, but even more impressive than the voice itself is Davidsen’s astonishing technique. Whether bringing soft glow to an intimate moment in her middle voice, or finding focus in her bright, bell-like top, she was always in complete control of her instrument. Even her highest notes never felt the slightest push, sounding as comfortable as though she had approached them from above.

That complete confidence in her technique opened up a wide range of emotive possibilities in every part of her voice….

Read on here.


The festival chiefs have made a presentation in the Russian capital, where it was confirmed that President Putin would pay a state visit to Austria to coincide with its new production of Boris Godunov.

The show’s sponsor is the Russian state polluter, Gazprom.

Report here.

The singer has given his first interview since the sex-pest allegations. It’s to a Spanish newspaper, a soft touch.

He says:

‘I have never retaliated, truncated or harmed anyone’s career. I have never made a promised in exchange for favors. What is apparent is my commitment to young singers and my responsibility in launching so many careers. I am excited to see how many of the artists who are now performing in the theaters of the world come from the impulse we have given them with the Operalia contest. A career requires a lot of work, dedication and talent. Advising a repertoire, recommending a role or the opposite does not mean a promise of work.

Q. In the AP report you seemed to say that the behaviors were justified because they were other times. Have you not contributed to the misunderstanding of permissiveness?

A. When I was referring to the customs of other times, I was not relativizing abuse or harassment at all. Although what I meant was fully understood by many, it was misunderstood by many others . I repeat, I was in no way tolerating any type of harassment or abuse. The Spaniards are warm, affectionate and affectionate. I was referring above all to the culture of the compliment. I have been gallant . But always within the limits of chivalry, respect and sensitivity. Behaviors that if in the past they could have been considered fulfilled, or gestures of gallantry, today they are perceived very differently.

More here.

Radio 3 has changed its schedules today to rebroadcast the 2009 Lebrecht Interview with Jonathan Miller, who died last week.

It’s at 18.45. Listen here.


The veteran Scottish conductor has said he will not return to the rocky Grand Teton Music Festival unless its management reinstates the three musicians it sacked this month.

Runnicles has written to the festival’s executive committee and board of directors saying that unless there is ‘an imminent resolution of the dismissal of Kristen Linfante, Jennifer Ross and Juan de Gomar, ‘it is well nigh impossible for me to imagine my role at the helm of the 2020 Grand Teton Music Festival.’

The Festival had claimed it sacked the musicians for ‘disruptive’ conduct.


So which do you choose?


George Frederick Handel was probably the only composer ever to have a personal account at the Bank of England.

The Bank would keep a late window open for him on opera nights so he could deposit the box-office takings.

Now the Bank has opened his accounts.

Here‘s a fascinating study by Ellen T. Harris.

… Handel held his account in South Sea Annuities at the Bank of England from 1723 to 1732, and it is the activity here that tracks Handel’s finances during those years. Unlike Handel’s shares in the South Sea Company, the account in annuities was no investment for Handel. Rather, he treated it like a cash account. Additions of stock were sold after relatively short intervals, sometimes leaving the account empty for months at a time …

Read on here.

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

Such a relief at this time of year to receive a choral record that is not about Christmas. The Purcell Singers have selected ‘English and American Choral Masterpieces of the 20th Century’ and it’s hard to fault their choices, or not to thrill at the unfamiliar….

Read on here.

And here.

Listen up.

The mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine has cancelled tomorrow night’s Verdi Requiem at the Berlin Philharmonic.

She’s replaced by Annalisa Stroppa.

It’s the Berlin Phil debut of Teodor Currentzis.

Watch rehearsal trailer here.


In the 1930s, Finland’s hub of modernism was the eastern town Viipuri, also known as Vyborg. It had cutting-edge architecture and heard contemporary music that would never get played in Helsinki.


Its conductor and conservatoire chief was Boris Wolfson, born Boris Osipovich Kaufman on April 3, 1893, in Vladikavkaz. He sometimes called himself Sirob, his first name backwards. On emigrating to the US he came Sirpo, founder of the Portland Chamber Orchestra. He died in 1967.

Many of Wolfson’s pupils and players in Viipuri were also Jewish, among them Naum Levin, future concertmaster of the Helsinki Philharmonic. Viipuri was surrendered to the Russians in 1945 and its musical history is only now being exhumed.

Here’s Sirob with his friend Jean Sibelius, and lots of young musicians, many of the Jews who perished in the coming wars.

Read more on Boris, here.


Danny Elfman, who composed the theme music for The Simpsons, has let slip that this series is its last.

That’s series #32. Did anyone know it was still alive?