Artists are getting cancelled into next season

Artists are getting cancelled into next season


norman lebrecht

April 21, 2020

Munich today called off its Oktoberfest, attended through September and October by six million swillers and swiggers from all over the world. The shutdown will cost the city around one billion Euros in revenues.

We are starting to hear from artists – singers especially – whose engagements for the early part of next season have been withdrawn by orchestras, opera houses and other performing organisations.

If you have been affected, let us know.

It’s looking extremely unlikely that anyone’s September will go ahead as planned.


  • Gustavo says:

    So start painting or composing in isolation like Axeli, Jean, Oskar, and Robert.

  • Alexander Hall says:

    But at the BBC hope springs eternal!

  • pedanticpoint says:

    don’t you me UNlikely that anyone’s September will go ahead? Attention to detail, Norman…

  • Anon says:

    what I would like to hear are tips on how to convince organizers to find replacement dates soon and earlier rather than later. For instance, my April, May, and June concerts as guest-artist have been canceled, and the organizers are saying that they can not yet find replacement dates because 2020-21 season is already full.

    • Anon ButNotThatAnon says:

      Make a large donation.

    • Tuba Minimum says:

      Booking is a nightmare right now. As long as no one knows how long it will go on, no one wants to put in writing where they’ll be when – particularly if it might involve an international flight to get there. What seemed like a safe date of postponement two weeks ago seems like a slim shot today.

  • MezzoLover says:

    Aren’t those two exasperated-looking gentlemen in the painting Jean Sibelius and Robert Kajanus? And I thought they were just bar-hopping around Helsinki…didn’t know they made it all the way to Munich!

  • pastore says:

    At this point it would seem highly unlikely that opera companies or orchestras in the US will be able to perform this year. The public may not be willing to come or able to afford performances. European artists may not wish to take a long flight to the US. I am sadly pessimistic.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      There is a good chance that concerts will restart in sometime during the Autumn in the US. At this stage, we can’t be sure, and it depends on how the crisis develops over the next few months.

  • Hornbill says:

    “It’s looking extremely unlikely that anyone’s September will go ahead as planned.”

    Meanwhile, in Salzburg….

    • Larry L. Lash / Vienna, Austria says:

      About a week ago a columnist in the Austrian newspaper Kurier ran an item stating that it would be impossible for the Salzburg Festival to open as scheduled on 18 July and that no one was available for comment.

      But apparently they were reading Kurier: a few hours later they issued a stern statement that they are waiting till the last minute – 30 May – to make any kind of decision and/or announcement. I am pessimistic.

      Bregenz is holding the same position, but should there be some kind of relaxation of rules which would allow outdoor arena performances they wouldn’t need much lead time to open in mid-July, as the gargantuan “Rigoletto” set on the Bodensee stage was erected last year and they could launch pretty much on schedule.

      Meanwhile, no one seems to notice that ORF is giving LIVE concerts on three consecutive Sunday nights at their RadioKulturhaus. They are being broadcast on ORF III (TV), Ö1 (radio), and (a subscription website) and archived for a week. You can access the live performances at 20:15 on Sunday nights or catch them later on the ORF and Ö1 websites.

      The cooperation with Wiener Staatsoper began last Sunday (19 April) as Anna Netrebko & Yusef (joined, I believe, at the hip), Juan Diego Flórez, Elena Maximova, Jongmin Park, Tomasz Konieczny, and Valentina Nafornita performed a couple of numbers in the empty auditorium, accompanied by a properly-distanced string quartet from RSO-Wien and a Staatsoper pianist. Jonas Kaufmann, Piotr Beczala, and Andreas Schager and his violinist wife contributed video recordings from their homes in, respectively, Bavaria, Poland, and their backyard in Niederösterreich. It was quite a lovely event, sadly only 75 minutes.

      Next Sunday will be devoted to operetta with members of Volksoper Wien, and the following week to musicals in cooperation with Vereinigte Bühnen Wien.

      • Brian says:

        Having been to Bregenz, they really pack the audience in tight in that amphitheater. It’s outdoors, so that helps, but I wonder if there would be any concession to distancing in situations like that.

        On-stage, would the singers all get tested before the performances? What are the risks of one of them getting sick and passing it on to the rest of the cast? And in the pit? Seems like a lot of risks to manage at this time.

        That said, the summer economy in Bregenz is built almost entirely around the festival.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          Some events may be allowed by July/August. They may, however, have a reduced attendance enforced. We won’t know until closer to the date, since it very much depends on how the crisis develops over the next 6 weeks or so.

  • Maria says:

    ‘The shutdown will cost the city around one billion Euros in revenues’ – yes, and probably more deaths even then. But I don’t see the appetite as an audience to go into a big open space after all this after being isolated and the thoughts of a second peak and then another even longer shutdown. The virus is going nowhere at the moment. It’s not like going back into a building after a fire.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      You are, of course, allowed not to go. But why not let those who do want to go the pleasure of the event if the authorities belief that the event can go ahead safely.

  • HC says:

    Royal Opera House/Royal Academy of Dance have already cancelled their premiere ballet competition, the Fonteyn (used to be the Genee) which should have been first week of September. But none of the competitors will be in proper shape (they need to be fitter and more practiced than footballers and most people don’t have enough space for grand jetees or a stage-filling variation at home even if they can do barre to keep basic fitness), and it’s an international competition with often great success from the Australian students, so I wasn’t surprised. Just bitterly disappointed when I got an email from the ROH box office re refunds.

    I wonder when my choirs will start again, indeed when any church will have a choir singing even if congregations are back? Will we get a Nine Lessons and Carols on the radio this coming Christmas Eve?