A trove of Enrico Caruso letters coming up for sale at Christie’s covers the period when Mrs Caruso, the soprano Ada Giachetti, waltzed off with the family driver.

Poor Caruso was pretty upset, but by this time he seems to have had an affair with Ada’s younger sister.

None of these letters have ever seen light before.

Read the auctioneer’s description here.



The Metropolitan Opera has rolled out five Sills winners this year instead of the usual one. The award recognises ‘extraordinarily gifted singers with rising Met careers.’

The 2021 winners are:
– sopranos Erin Morley and Brenda Rae
– countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo

– tenor Ben Bliss
– and bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green.



Gustav Mahler’s most self-revealing song.


Daughter of the Viennese cabaret artist Oskar Teller, Friedl Teller-Blum escaped with her parents to America after the 1938 Anschluss as a six year-old refugee.

She made her first stage appearance at 16, was recruited to the Metropolitan Opera Studio and sang more than 40 roles, including Violetta and Butterfly.

In 1961 she migrated  to Israel, where she performed with all the leading ensembles and headed the voice department at Tel Aviv University. Friedl died yesterday in Givatayim.


Police in Moscow have placed Dr. Anastasia Vasilyeva of the Alliance of Doctors and Maria Alekhina of the Pussy Riot punk collective under house arrest as protests continue against Vladimir Putin’s regime. Both musicians are supporters of the jailed Alexei Navalny.

We reported on Friday that Dr Vasilyeva greeted the police in her apartment with an impromptu Beethoven recital. Watch here.


The Concours international Long Thibaud Crespin, which should have been held in November, has been called off due to the Covid pandemic. The artistic director is Renaud Capucon.

Clearly, the advice from the French government is that Coronavirus will continue to suppress musical activity for the rest of 2021.


This year’s other major contest, the Chopin Competition in Warsaw, is scheduled for November.

The international Belgian baritone Michel Trempont died yesterday in his home country.

Celbrated for roles in opéra comique and Broadway musicals, he was an outstanding Figaro in both Mozart and Rossini operas. He performed at La Scala, Covent Garden, Geneva and San Francisco, while enjoying most of his career in Paris and Brussels.

His brother, the tenor Pol Trempont, died in 2007.


From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

The late Michael Kennedy, an honest critic if ever there was, told me that on reaching the age of 60 his ears gave up on contemporary music. We then had a stand-up row about the recent works of Birtwistle and Maxwell Davies and parted, as always, good friends. Now, having long passed Michael’s age threshold for new music, I find myself still curious about living composers….

Read on here.

And here.

In The Critic.

En francais ici.

In Czech here.

In Spanish here.

Bradley Cooper’s biodoc on the life of Leonard Bernstein will start shooting in April.

It is billed as a Netflix Original with Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg listed as co-producers.


The countertenor Alexander Pullinger has written a paper examining why transgender singers find it so hard to break through in opera.

He tells Slipped Disc: Over lockdown, East London-based charity Sound Connections funded me to write a paper on empowering transgender voices by making singing spaces more inclusive and trans-positiveIn my work as a classical singer, I’ve found that transgender people commonly encounter significant barriers to accessing auditions, safe tuition, choral groups and progressing their careers. This is largely because of the incorrect association of voice type with gender identity. The accounts of transphobia I include in my paper are by no means unique. We are seeing this problem reflected in the number of professional transgender singers in our concert halls and on our opera stages. 

You can read Alexander’s full article here.

Here’s the lead-in:
The pain of not being able to sing with others is something many freelance singers have experienced over the past few months, as a result of COVID-19. Many of us who sing professionally have suffered not only from the financial impact of restrictions on live singing, but also the emotional impact. Despite our best efforts, we have lost much of our sense of community, and the tangible joy of singing together in front of an audience. It is encouraging to know that we might be singing together again before long, perhaps looking back and wondering how we all made it through that flat, sad, songless time. With a vaccine in sight, I am tentatively optimistic. The prospect of not singing together again indefinitely is excruciating to consider.

And yet, for many singers who are transgender, organised singing has always been, and will remain, largely inaccessible. I was entirely unaware of this until very recently. As far as I knew, I had never seen, nor worked with, any transgender singers: not as a boy chorister, nor as a choral scholar, nor anywhere on the freelance circuit in the UK and abroad. For a long time, the strangeness of this had not occurred to me. That is, until I made a connection between conventions in organised singing and the everyday challenges transgender individuals face – a connection I made as a result of being exposed to my (transgender) partner’s experiences in the wider world. I cannot now unsee the viscerally damaging effects of ignorant behaviour – whether it is overt or much more subtle – upon transgender people in singing environments. In either case, the harm is both acute and lasting.

This simple shift in awareness means I can recognise transphobia in its various forms and intervene. The outcomes have been heartening on the whole. I have seen that institutional change is possible through education and dialogue. That is why I have chosen to develop my
trans advocacy work in singing, and consolidate the knowledge I have gained, in order to share it with Sound Connections and my peers….

Read on here.


According to the press release:

The 42nd edition of the Rossini Opera Festival will be held in Pesaro from the 9th to the 22nd August 2021. The programme, which has never been so rich, will include four new productions (Moïse et Pharaon, Elisabetta regina d’Inghilterra, Il signor Bruschino and Stabat Mater), Il viaggio a Reims by the Accademia Rossiniana “Alberto Zedda”, eight concerts and the final Gala Rossini, reaching a total of 25 performances.

The Festival will be inaugurated on Monday 9th August at the Vitrifrigo Arena with Moïse et Pharaon, with the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI and the Chorus of the Teatro Ventidio Basso conducted by Giacomo Sagripanti, staged by Pier Luigi Pizzi assisted by Massimo Gasparon, with choreography by Gheorghe Iancu. The cast consists of Roberto Tagliavini, Erwin Schrott, Andrew Owens, Eleonora Buratto, Vasilisa Berzhanskaya, Alexey Tatarintsev, Matteo Roma, Monica Bacelli and Nicolò Donini. Three repeat performances will take place on the 12th, 16th and 19th August.

This will be followed by Il signor Bruschino at the Teatro Rossini on the 10th August, with the Filarmonica Gioachino Rossini conducted by
Michele Spotti; a production conceived by Barbe & Doucet, with lighting by Guy Simard. The cast of singers includes Marina Monzò, Pietro Spagnoli, Giorgio Caoduro, Jack Swanson, Gianluca Margheri, Chiara Tirotta, Manuel Amati and Enrico Iviglia. Further performances will take place on the 13th, 15th and 18th August. The opera is a co-production with the Royal Opera House Muscat (Oman).

Back at the Vitrifrigo Arena, on the 11th August Elisabetta regina d’Inghilterra will be performed, conducted by Evelino Pidò, with the Orchestra Sinfonica della RAI and the Chorus of the Teatro Ventidio Basso, staged by Davide Livermore, with scenery by Giò Forma, costumes by Gianluca Falaschi, lighting by Nicolas Bovey and videodesign by D-Wok. The cast will include Karine Deshayes, Sergey Romanovsky, Salome Jicia, Sonia Prina, Barry Banks and Valentino Buzza. Repeat performances on the 14th, 17th and 21st August. The opera is a co-production with the Fondazione Teatro Massimo, Palermo.

The last new production is the Stabat Mater in a staged version, to be performed at the Vitrifrigo Arena on the 20th August, conducted by Jader Bignamini with the Filarmonica Gioachino Rossini and the Chorus of the Teatro Ventidio Basso, the staging, scenery and costumes by Massimo Gasparon. The solo singers will be Giuliana Gianfaldoni, Vasilisa Berzhanskaya, Ruzil Gatin and Riccardo Fassi.

The 2021 ROF will close on Sunday 22nd August with the Gala Rossini, which will inaugurate the new Auditorium Scavolini, a multi-purpose venue that can host a thousand people for Operas and Concerts and two thousand people for sport events. The Auditorium is a fruit of the restoration of the old PalaFestival, which up to the year 2005 offered some of the most important productions in the Festival’s history: these include the Matilde di Shabran which in 1996 framed the Pesaro début of Juan Diego Flórez, the 25th anniversary of which will be
celebrated by this concert. Michele Spotti will conduct the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI and the Chorus of the Teatro Ventidio Basso. Juan Diego Flórez will be supported by Eleonora Buratto, Salome Jicia, Marina Monzò, Sonia Prina, Pietro Spagnoli, Sergey Romanovsky, Giorgio Caoduro, Jack Swanson, Matteo Roma, Manuel Amati, Nicolò Donini.

The Brazilian musicologst Eder Wilker Borges Pena has discovered three composers who published a silent piece before John Cage’s 4’33”.

They are: Alphonse Allais’ “Marche Funèbre pour les funérailles d’un grand homme sourd”, 1897; Erwin Schulhoff “In Futurum”, 1919; and Samuel “Il Silenzio”, 1896.

Read Eder’s article in English here.

photo: Betty Freeman/Lebrecht