A-Z of Wagner: B is for Bayreuth

From The Guardian: The next letter of our fortnightly alphabetical tour of the world and work of Richard Wagner is B, for Bayreuth and Brünnhilde. B is for Bayreuth, the capital of Upper Franconia in southern Germany, but more to the point the capital of Wagneria – it styles itself “Wagnerstadt” on local signs. It […]

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SO … WHAT ABOUT: The opera novice?

Originally published in January 2012 Until last year Sameer Rahim had little interest in classical music – but now he is hooked on opera. In a new column he offers a novice-eye’s view of this seemingly forbidding but truly magical art form. Continues HERE

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OPERA: Will children ever care about it?

Rupert Christiansen writes: What role opera should play in our educational system is a problem that has baffled and exercised me for my 25 years as a critic – and lover – of this great if beleaguered art form. My feelings are complicated by the fact that my own path to opera was entirely self-motivated. […]

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Exactly the way it happened folks: A small piece of education, at the hands of a customer

Howard Popeck … It’s with considerable embarrassment that I recall both my musical ignorance and my inverse snobbery about musical styles. Styles that I neither understood nor wanted to understand, for no good reason at all in the early days of Subjective Audio. I call those days my irrational time. They’ve been a recurring event […]

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JS BACH St Matthew Passion (Rademann)

Peter Quantrill writes …. There are strong arguments for opening out the themes of the Passion by means not of a staging transplanted from church to opera house, as has been attempted in recent years, but through movement. In this choreographed Passion there are two discrete but overlapping layers of action. The musicians concentrate on […]

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From the archives: Christopher Breunig – Davis’s new Fidelio, Haitink’s Beethoven completed – and more.

Davis’s new Fidelio The New Year brings a sea-change to the London Symphony Orchestra as workaholic Valery Gergiev takes over from Sir Colin Davis as principal conductor, his senior colleague becoming its president. (The Philharmonia and London Philharmonic Orchestras have also announced new appointments: Esa-Pekka Salonen and Vladimir Jurowski.) Happily, Sir Colin is to make […]

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DAME JANET BAKER: Speaking to Joyce DiDonato

From the archives: An abridged version of this interview was released by Gramophone to celebrate Dame Janet’s 80th birthday on Wednesday (August 21). This fascinating full 30-minute version of the interview covers all aspects of Dame Janet’s career, including what it was like to work with Benjamin Britten and what it feels like to disagree […]

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Mastering Monteverdi’s Orfeo

David Vickers speaks to Andrew Parrott on the 40th anniversary of the Taverner Consort and Players. You’ve conducted a lot of opera around the world, but you haven’t recorded many. The Taverner Consort and Players made two different recordings of Dido and Aeneas, and then there’s a famous recording of the Florentine intermedi performed at a […]

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BRITTEN: At last, we have fallen for our great Britten

The composer’s pacifism seems an irrelevant curiosity now, his homosexuality of even less concern. Benjamin Britten’s coronation opera Gloriana had its early performances in the gilded splendour of the Royal Opera House. The new monarch herself attended the premiere on June 8 1953.  Two months later, the work had its next outing, in Bulawayo, second […]

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Quill

BILLY BUDD: Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd turns Melville’s novel into a gripping psychosexual drama, says Sameer Rahim.

There is a very funny scene in The Sopranos when the family get into an argument over whether Herman Melville’s Billy Budd is a gay novel. Carmela, who has seen the 1962 movie version with Terence Stamp, claims it’s “the story of an innocent sailor being picked on by a cruel boss”. But her daughter […]

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OPERA: Teodora Gheorghiu: There’s no magic to opera singing

Previously published here and elsewhere As Teodora Gheorghiu prepares to sing in Der Rosenkavalier at Glyndebourne, she tells Rupert Christiansen how she overcame an illness that threatened her career. It may only be something they put in the water, but over the last century or so Romania has produced an extraordinary succession of velvety lyric […]

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BIZET: Carmen: Prelude & Entr’actes, L’Arlesienne Orchestral Suite

  Patrick Latimer writes: Vivid account of Bizet’s beautiful music Get Bizet I picked this disc as a (relatively) recent performance of some of Bizet’s greatest show tunes. You get the orchestral music from Carmen without the singing and the plot which is a bit like going straight to dessert. And just like going straight […]

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1876: Was it classical music’s most important year?

Mike Ashman writes: 1876 was a melting-point for music, a watershed year in both concert hall and opera house. With the premiere of Wagner’s four-evening Ring cycle, and the composition of Bruckner’s 65‑minute Fifth Symphony, it saw great peaks of Romantic operatic and symphonic writing. The appearance of Mahler’s first significant score, a Piano Quartet, […]

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Ian Bostridge on Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: ‘I’d never have sung without him’ English tenor Ian Bostridge tells Rupert Christiansen how the late Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau came to inspire him.

  Some 30 years ago, a 14-year-old schoolboy called Ian Bostridge was sitting in his first German lesson, when his teacher Richard Stokes had a brilliant idea: he would introduce the class to the glory of the language and the culture it inspired by playing a recording of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing Schubert’s setting of Goethe’s […]

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The opera novice

Originally published January 2012 I grew up in a household where not a note of classical music was played. I must have heard some at school, but all I remember of music classes was mucking around on a synthesiser playing the Batman theme tune. As a teenager watching telly, I recall humming along to The […]

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