Gerald Martin Moore has a fascinating article on Beverley Sills, looking back at her different teachers. One comment stuck out, he notes how he found her cadenza in the Mad Scene from Lucia different to anyone elses but does not say why. Instead he segues into an explanation that the traditional cadenza owes a lot to Mathilde Marchesi and that Sills's teacher, Estelle Liebling was one of Marchesi's last pupils. A fascinating chain in itself, but is Martin Moore implying that the cadenza Sills uses owes something to the chain leading back to Marchesi?
A notable clutch of obituaries - Malcolm Arnold, Armin Jordan and Thomas Stewart.
In a review of Opera Australia's revival of Francisco Negrin's production of Handel's Giulio Cesare, Deborah Jones comments that Christopher Field's Tolomeo was more psychopath than drag queen, but a bit of both. Well, the camp, drag queen element is certainly a modern gloss on the character and not something Handel intended. The role was written for a woman and would have been no camper than any of the other many travesti roles that Handel wrote. The camp, effeminate aspect of Tolomeo seems to have crept in with the usurpation of the role by counter-tenors.
George Petrou and his Patras Orchestra have just performed Handel's Tamerlano in Athens. Interestingly, they cast a high-baritone as Bajazet, on the basis that the role lies low for a modern tenor. John Svolos seemed to concur and I will be interested to hear the recording.
The Opera Theatre Company in Ireland have just done Fidelio in a jail. Mind you, unlike Pimlico Opera's productions this jail was a museum (it stopped being a jail in 1920). I suppose doing Fidelio with real prisoners might be a little too near the bone.
I see that there has been a falling out in Pesaro. The scholar, Philip Gossett, who was in charge of the new edition of Rossini's works, was critical of the festival's artistic decisions and seems to have been fired. He is off to Barenreiter, so we can look forward to 2 competing editions of Rossini's works - ho hum.
The premiere of Stephen Hartke's The Greater Good at Glimmerglass seems to indicate that Hartke and his original librettist fell out. The libretto is described as being adapted from an original libretto by Philip Littell. Oops, such an event must be rather like having a divorce, and just as divorce is not good for the children, having composer and librettist disagree can't be good for the health of the opera.
Still in America, the New York City Opera did a new production of Handel's Semele and just as the current ENO production (by Robert Carsen) updates it to the 21st century and uses the British Royal family as a model, so the NYCO production (by Stephen Lawless) updates it to the Kennedy White House - very neat indeed.
Finally the We Hear that... column includes some rather tantalising glimpses of future productions. Theres a new Tim Albery Les Troyens in Chicago with Susan Graham and Anna Caterina Antonacci - now, we've never visited Chicago....
Plus, Opera North are doing Keiser's Croeusus, definitely a must see I think. Keiser ran the Hamburg Opera House when Handel first joined the staff, before he left for Italy. Then Laurent Pelly is doing L'Elisir d'Amore at Covent Garden and Nicholas Hyntner is doing Don Carlos there as well. This latter no longer with Angela Georghiu as Elisabeth, oh well, can't win them all but any new Don Carlos is fabulous really.
Then further in the future Birtwistle's Minotaur is being done at the ROH in 2008 with John Tomlinson in the title role and Christine Rice as Ariadne, produced by Stephen Langridge. Something really to look forward to.