Friday 29 June 2007

Recent CD Reviews

My review of new disc of Bach cantatas is here .
Much choral and instrumental interest, beautifully taken. Bach's name-day cantata displays the master in delightfully unbuttoned mood ...

And my review of Puccini duets (taken from classic 1950's recordings) is here . Both reviews are on MusicWeb International.

An attractive and well-filled disc which makes for good listening ... would be ideal for someone just beginning to explore Puccini's music ...

Wednesday 27 June 2007

Hugues Cuenod's birthday

Tenor Hugues Cuenod is celebrating his 105th birthday. His remarkably longevity included his voice, he kept on singing well into old age. I remember seeing him as M. Taupe in Strauss's Capriccio at Glyndebourne in the old house. He has just got married, regularising his 20-year old relationship with Alfred Augustin, something possible now that Swiss law has changed.
I've stopped being a great one for competitions, partly because I dislike working on something simply because its for a competition. But if I have something around, an idea or a finished work, which seems to fit then I can often think why not.

The other issue is about the way my music looks on the page compared to how it sounds. Last year a conductor commented that my music sounded different to how you'd expect it to on the page, was more complex. I don't know if this is a general perception but it makes me mistrust sending scores off into the blue.

But that's what I'm planning at the moment. There are 2 or 3 projects which fit in with competition entries, so I think, why not?

Also I've been busy exchanging emails with the librettist of the new opera. I send her PDF's and midi-files and we discuss how things are developing. Its early days yet, but it is proving to be enormously useful having someone to bounce ideas off and to keep their eye on me. Consistency is important when mapping out different characters in a dramatic context and consistency is not always my strong point!

Sunday 24 June 2007

This morning at church it was the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, so we sang Brahms's Missa Canonica. Quite a challenge for a church choir, even though there were 16 of us - maximum numbers. It is not my favourite piece, but I would love to hear it done properly, at least once.

Saturday 23 June 2007

Review of Into the Woods

The cast for the Royal opera's new production (in the Linbury Studio) of Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods" was a cunning mix of young opera singers and singing actors;a cast whose musical experience spanned the gamut of the musical stage. Directed by choreographer Will Tuckett, the results were surprisingly coherent and uniform. There was little of the feeling of disparated elements coupled unsatisfactorily.

Tuckett's direction was fluent and fluid. He shed no new light on the work, but simply and imaginatively told the story. Vastly helped by Lez Brotherston's flexible and beautiful set. The wood, as created by Tuckett and Brotherston was a thing of both terror and beauty. But of course, being a Sondheim show, the terror was laced with humour.

Clive Rowe and Anna Francolini were superb as the Baker and his wife, chasing after their dream of conceiving a child. At times Francolini reminded me of Imelda Staunton in the same role in Richard Jones's West End production of the musical. And Francolini's performance was nearly as impressive. Rowe brought a charming wide-eyed naivety to the role of the Baker. Plus, of course, his fine singing voice.

Suzanne Toase's Little Red Riding Hood was deliciously awful. Strong minded and knowing, her dialogue with Nicholas Garrett's Wolf redolent of sexual exploration and discovery. As Jack (of Beanstalk fame), Peter Caulfield did not have the strongest singing voice, but he put his songs over well and engaged our sympathy for Jack's hapless character - after all he spends most of Act 1 regarding his cow, Milky White, as his best friend. Jack's mother was played by Anne Reid, an actress not usually known for her singing roles, but she too put her songs over well.

As Cinderella, Gillian Kirkpatrick showed remarkable resource underneath the pretty exterior, as the character must. Kirkpatrick has an attractive voice which helped reveal Cinderella's depths. Christina Raphaelle Haldane's Rapunzel (in this version she is the Baker's long lost sister), gets to sing one thing only, but she did so beautifully. the 2 princes, Nicholas Garrett and Nic Greenshields looked and sounded the part. Their duet, "Agony" was one of the highlights, as it should be.

In every production of "Into the Woods" that I have seen, the witch has to struggle in my mind with the memory of Julia Mackenzie, who the part fitted like a glove. Beverly Klein very nearly succeeded. In her opening 'song' (actually a pitcheless number, spoken rhythmically) she established herself brilliantly. Though in her other Act 1 numbers she seemed not entirely at ease. But once transformed into a her glamorous self in Act 2, her musical performance strengthened and she gave a strong account of "The Last Midnight".

One interesting fact. Cinderella's step mother, Elizabeth Brice, played one of Cinderella's step-sisters in the original West End run.

The whole was well controlled by conductor James Holmes, who seemed to be able to operate well even though hidden behind the scenes.

Being directed by a choreographer, the stage pictures were fluid and fluent. Characters broke out into little moments of choreography, but there was not sense that this was a dance piece manqué. It was a fine piece of musico-dramatic theatre. Tuckett seems to be developing into a fine director with a nice eye/ear for character.

By the end of act 2, when the Giantess has killed many of the cast and the rest have fled, we are reduced to the Baker, his infant son, Cinderella, Jack and Red Riding Hood. They discover that they must work together to succeed against the Giantess and ultimately, make their own non-traditional family group. This is movingly conveyed in the haunting ballad "No-one is alone", which was beautifully sung and staged. Though Sondheim and Lapine do not preach, this 2nd Act is very strongly redolent of the gay community's early struggles against AIDS, which was happening around the time the work was being written.

But Sondheim and Lapine do not allow the work to end on a dying fall, but bring the mmostly dead cast back for a glorious finale.

This was a hugely enjoyable production. the cast was well balanced and all put words over very well, a strong requirement in Sondheim. I hope this is not the last time Tuckett investigates musical theatre.

Sunday 17 June 2007

Review of La Clemenza di Tito

On Saturday we went to see the revival of La Clemenza di Tito at ENO. Emma Bell (Vitellia) and Paul Nilon (Tito) reappeared from the original cast and were joined by Alice Coote as Sesto.

If anything Bell's Vitellia seemed to be more neurotic and on edge than last time, it was difficult at times to see how Sesto could have loved her. Initially Bell tended to rather gabble her recitative but she settled down and her final great aria was wonderful as ever. Paul Nilon seemed to be in his element as Tito, I have rarely heard him sing as well and he brought a strong streak of sympathetic humanity to the role.

But of course, we had really gone to hear Alice Coote as Sesto. Coote is a very vivid actor but by the side of Bell's Vitellia, Coote's Sesto seemed understated and dignified. Her arias were beautifully sung, but she and conductor Edward Gardner did seem rather inclined to pull them about too much so that the 2nd halves of her arias had a little too much rubato for my inclination. She was well supported by the notable Annio of Anne Marie Gibbons. With Sarah Jane Davies as an attractive Servilia and Andrew Foster Williams as a strong Publio.

On revisting the production I still feel that it is a weakness to take the chorus off stage and put them in the pit. At the end of Act one they were back-stage which meant that the balance was not ideal in the closing ensemble. But more than this, it just feels wrong not having courtiers around Tito. Instead of taking place at a Western Roman court, McVicar seems to have in mind a more oriental court, where the Emperor is just surrounded by intimates and his guards. It works, more or less, but does not feel like the opera that Mozart wrote.

The guards, with their endless routines with long poles, were not as slick in their choreography as last time, which did not help. The recent McVicar productions that I have seen (2 Handel operas) have had a corps of dancers to take your mind of things at the boring moments. I realised that in this production the tai-chi style guards form this role.

BMS News

The British Music Society's quarterly newsletter popped through my letter box the other week and has a number of rather interesting events in it. Top of the list is the performance on Rememberance Sunday, at the Albert Hall, of John Foulds's mammoth A World Requiem, a work which was performed at the Rememberance day commemorations in the 1920's, but has not been heard since 1926.

Also on a large scale, Granville Bantock's Omar Khayam has finally been recorded by Chandos. The ever growing Bantock edition on Chandos has been circling round this mammoth work for some years and finally it has been recorded, with Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Toby Spence and Roderick Williams, BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra under Vernon Handley. I can't wait.

Colin Scott Sutherland's review of the new Francis George Scott disc caught my eye. Partly through his use of the word kenspeckle and partly because he gives the song recital, by Lisa Milne and Roderick Williams on Signum, such a thumbs up. Another disc for the wish list I think.

Finally, an interesting foot-note to the 1st World War. In 1914 a group of English musicians set out for the Bayreuth Festival. When war was declared they were interned as enemy aliens. Among them were Benjamin Dale and Edgar Bainton, director of the conservatoire in Newcastle. Bainton organised the camp into a hive a musical activity. And back in England, his wife was just as active in keeping the conservatoire going so that on his return Bainton could resume his activities as if nothing had happened.

Saturday 16 June 2007

Recent CD Review

My review of Rossini's early opera Ciro in Babilonia is here, on MusicWeb International.
Neither vintage Rossini nor a vintage performance. But strong, bravura performances make this well worth investigating ...

Friday 15 June 2007

Gurney Poetry again

I've finally gotten around to digging out the text of the Ivor Gurney poem that I'm setting. It is one of four in fact, but this one seems to have the most profound homo-erotic context.


He's gone, and all our plans
Are useless indeed.
We'll walk no more on Cotswolds
Where the sheep feed
Quietly and take no heed.
His body that was so quick
Is not as you
Knew it, on Severn River
Under the blue
Driving our small boat through.
You would not know him now…
But still he died
Nobly, so cover him over
With violets of pride
Purple from Severn side.
Cover him, cover him soon!
And with thick-set
Masses of memoried flowers-
Hide that red wet
Thing I must somehow forget.

The poem was evidently written in 1917 but it deals with the death of a comrade in a remarkably lover like way

Thursday 14 June 2007

The Boatswains Mate

An enterprising theatre company called Primavera are doing a production of Ethel Smyth's opera The Boatswains Mate on a number of dates in June and July at the Finborough Theatre. It is part of a rediscoveries season at the Finborough Theatre. Smyth's entertaining comedy will be played without decor and the cast will include Sian Jones as Mrs. Waters. It will be directed by Tom Littler (recently assistant to James Conway on Eugene Onegin for English Touring Opera). Tom is directing three rediscoveries at the Finborough Theatre, including the first London production for over fifty years of Edwardian comedy The Mollusc and T.S. Eliot's The Confidential Clerk.

Recent CD Review

My review of the new disc of Bryan Ferneyhough's choral music is here,
on MusicWeb International.
In a world where contemporary classical music seems to be increasingly minimal or post-Modern, Ferneyhough’s brand of maximal modernism acts as a beacon to us all. ...

Wednesday 13 June 2007

Recording news

We'll things are proceeding apace with the recording. We spent the day in the studio yesterday doing what I hope is something close to the final edit. D. and I had listened to the first edit obsessively and played it to a couple of friends. The results of our listening went into the mix when we created this new edit.

Work has also started on the CD cover, booklet design and text. We're using a picture by a painter friend as the CD cover, this has musical links as well as she has sung in quite a number of performances of my works. The first drafts are finished and the results look very promising.

Monday 11 June 2007

Review of Death in Venice

Over 30 years since its premiere, Britten’s Death in Venice is still inextricably linked to the voice and personality of Sir Peter Pears. Pears's voice and performance style are embedded within the vocal part of Aschenbach. even more than such roles as Peter Grimes, with Aschenbach each performer needs to get over this hurdle and re-shape the part in his own mould.

One of the fascinations for Saturday's performance (9th June 2007) of Death in Venice at the London Coliseum was being able to see how Ian Bostridge approached the part. Bostridge is signficantly younger than many interpreters of the role. But, like Pears, Bostridge is an experienced lieder singer and fine singer of baroque and early music.

I heard Pears in the role at Covent Garden in the late 1970's (I think). Allowing for the gap of some 30 years, the biggest difference between Bostridge and Pears seemed to be Bostridge's emphasis on the music and his reliance on the beauty of his voice. Not that Pears's voice was not beautiful, even in the 1970's. But he tended to start from the words and his impeccable diction, with the music and beauty of voice coming second. Pears's Aschenbach engaged you partly because he was talking directly to you.

Bostridge's Aschenbach was more artful. The text seemed to come second and, sitting in the upper circle, at times his diction was a little occluded. Bostridge's Aschenbach was a stage cretion and did not, as yet, confide directly in us.

But that said, Bostridge's Aschenbach was a superbly impressive creation. Not a copy of Pears but his own inimitable version. One that was younger, more volatile but just as troubled by the pull between Apollo and Dionysius. Ultimately, though I found Bostridge estimable and impressive but not quite touching and moving. Perhaps I should say not quite yet, for I am sure that he will grow far further into the role and his first foray was indeed a tour de force.

It was helped by Deborah Warner's understated and stunningly beautiful production. Using just a series of sliding screens, floating curtains, a floor which could reflect light like water and a stunning lighting plot, Warner along with designer Tom Pye and lighting designer Jean Kalman created a production notable for its light, sheer beauty and simplicity.

Venice was evoked by the occasional pole, distant views of the city and above all, by the constant presence of water and its reflections of light. Aschenbach's confidences to the audience generally took place on a darkened stage wth a plethora of text projected onto it.

As Aschenbach's baritone antagonist, Peter Coleman-Wright displayed wonderful versatility. Each different role was beautifully delineated from the elderly fop to the obsequious hotel manager. Coleman-Wright's diction was excellent and each role came over with complete clarity, at times it was difficult to believe it was to same singer.

The problem was that Rose never seemed to be the least bit sinister. In fact good natured bonhomie seemed a prevalent characteristic. For me, the dynamics of the opera do not work if the baritone cannot be seen as sinisterly manipulative. But this smoothing of the baritone's discreetly underlying malevolence seems to have been on a par with Warner's production, which rather under played the Apollo/Dionysius dichotomy.

Aschenbach's dilemma came over as personal, never a pull between the influence of two deities. In their dialogue Coleman-Wright and Iestyn Davies could have been simply the embodiment of voices in Aschenbach's head. I want much more the feeling that Iestyn Davies was Apollo and not just some bloke in a white shirt and cream trousers.

This was particularly true of the games which conclude Act 1, where Kim Brandstrup's choreography kept the action well within the confines of teenage high spirits rather than games.

Ultimately the production worked as a whole because of the skill and beauty with which Warner and Pye conjured up their images.

The myriad smaller roles were taken by a mixture of ENO chorus members, members of their Young Singers programme and other young Singers. This generally worked well, though one or two of the chorus solo roles seemed to be slightly under cast. Anna Dennis as the Strawberry Seller and Jonathan Gunthorpe as the English Clerk stand out in the memory; Gunthorpe in particular made me with that his role had been longer.

All in all this was a memorable and enchanting production. I would hope that ENO will revive it soon so that we can see it when it has become further bedded in.

Royal Ballet Triple bill

Friday's triple bill at the Royal Ballet included 3 works that I am particularly fond of. First off was Dame Ninette de Valois's Checkmate. The only one of her ballets to be regularly in the Royal Ballet repertory. It is a strong dramatic work and one that works well if there are strong performances from the Black Queen and the Red Knight. The Black Queen was danced by Zenaida Yanowsky and she gave a wonderfully icy, sexy performance. Benet Gartside was a last minute replacement as the Red Knight. He did not seem quite as bravura as some dancers in the role but conveyed well the characters conflicted nature when he fails to kill the Black Queen.

The performance of Ashton's Symphonic Variations was simply the best that I have seen at Covent Garden in a long time. Despite a number of replacements in the cast all 6 dancers succeeded in creating a classical unity with all of them managing to be uniform in their style of dancing. Something that you can't take for granted nowadays at the Royal Ballet when their dancers come from such wide backgrounds.

Then finally, Song of the Earth with Catherine Wyn Rogers and David Rendall singing the vocal solos. The singers were placed on the stage, at the very edge at the front. This was, I think, an innovation and a welcome one; it was good to see the singers properly. The performance was simply magical; Darcy Bussell, Gary Avis and Carlos Acosta danced the 3 lead roles. The evening might have been memorable for the reception Bussell received at the end, but it will also stay in the memory for the quality of the dancing and the performance.

Opera review - The Gambler

My review of Grange Park Opera's production of Prokofiev's The Gambler is here, on Music and Vision.

Recent CD Review

My review of the 2nd volume of Naxos's Jewish Operas series is here, on MusicWeb International.
A fascinating disc. One well worth exploring if you are interested in 20th century opera. My only real complaint was that it was too short and could have been twice as long. ...

Saturday 9 June 2007

More Gurney

I thought I'd print the Ivor Gurney poem that I'm currently setting. I've no idea what it's background, but it strikes me as being homo-erotic at least.

To His Love

He's gone, and all our plans
are useless indeed.
We'll walk no more on Cotswold
where the sheep feed
quietlsy and take no heed.

His body that was so quick
is not as you
knew it, on Severn river
under the blue
driving our small boat through.

You would not know him now...
but still he died
nobly, so cover him over
with violets of pride
purple from Severn side.

Cover him, cover him soon!
and with thick-set
masses of memoried flowers -
hide that red wet
thing I must forget.

Music at the Ballet

If I said that last night we'd been to a performance in London of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with Catherine Wyn Rogers and David Rendall, coupled with Franck's Symphonic Variations and Bliss's Checkmate you might exclaim and then ask where the concert had taken place and why had you missed it? But, of course, the last item in my list, the Bliss, gives the game away. In fact, if you read yesterday's post you'll know, we were at the Royal Ballet last night.

But it is an interesting fact of life that sometimes the requirements of choreographers can give us performances of works which we'd not otherwise hear (the Bliss) or which would be satisfying in the concert hall (the Mahler). Bliss is not common in the concert hall so it was lovely to hear such a major score, especially when so well played and when coupled with Ninette de Valois's choreography.

I can remember some years ago (15?) the Anthony Tudor ballet Les Bandar-Log was being performed by the Royal Ballet (with Wayne Eagling as the boy with matted hair). The score uses the Koechlin tone poem and other works. It was probably virtually the only performance of a major Koechlin score in London by a major orchestra for a generation! (The ballet was good as well).

Of course, it does not always work. Tudor's ballet Voluntaries uses the Poulenc organ concerto and I was uncomfortable with the speeds slow used, coupled with the distressing sound of the electronic organ. But a companion who also loved the concert work enjoyed the ballet as well, so perhaps it was me. After all, I found that Macmillan's Gloria which uses the same composer's Gloria works very well for me. More distressing in the past have been performances of MacMillan's Requiem where the extreme vibrato used by the Royal Opera House chorus was not suitable for the Faure; but this has been addressed now and the last performance we heard of the ballet used another, more suitable choir.

More interestingly, when the BBC did a recording of the Royal Ballet's production of Les Noces they did so in the studio with Bernstein conducting. The dancers said afterwards that they had found it a challenge as Bernstein's speeds were far different (faster?) than what they were used to.

This use of concert works in ballet goes back a long way. When the Royal Birmingham Ballet revived Vaughan Williams/Ninette de Valois Job they coupled it with a Massine ballet to one of Brahms symphonies. A complex work, it had been amongst the works Massine had had notate quite late in his life. I remember it as being rather wonderful and would love to see it again.

Thursday 7 June 2007

Gurney songs

I have now finished the first of the Ivor Gurney songs which I am planning. The first one sets a poem called Requiem and I am rather pleased with it. Though, as usual, I'm worried about the music as I feel it all sounds like sub-Vaughan Williams. (We were listening to Pilgrims Progress in the car the other day - D. had never heard it before - and some of it has rather stuck). I've now started on the next song, which seems to have a remarkably homo-erotic text. More on this as the song progresses.

The entire group of songs is going to be gloomy I'm afraid as they are all about loss. But Gurney's poetry is never too navel gazingly angst ridden, so I find it rather comforting and very moving.

Theatre Plans

Tomorrow we're off to see the Royal Ballet doing the last performance of their current triple bill. I'm not quite sure why we chose this particular date, but it does mean that we are going to see Darcy Bussell's final ballet performance. She's dancing in Song of the Earth, Kenneth MacMillan's ballet to the Mahler song cycle. It is a wonderful piece and I look forward to seeing it. Rather bizarrely, though the ROH web-site gives details of the ballet casting, there is no information about the singers! I'll report back.

Then on Saturday its Death in Venice at ENO, with Ian Bostridge. Having seen Peter Pears in this role in some of his last appearances at Covent Garden, I've found that no other performance seems to live up to the memory. Lets hope this time. Some friends went to see the first performance, neither having seen it before. One loved it, the other couldn't see what all the fuss was about and thought that Aschenbach should get his act together and have a quick shag with Tadzio.

Review of Magic Flute at Grange Park

My review of Grange Park Opera's Magic Flute is here, complete with a couple of pictures, on Music and Vision.

Recent CD Review

My review of the oratorio attributed to Buxtehude, Wacht! Euch zum Streit gefasset macht , is here on MusicWeb International.
Can be highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the music of this period. ...

Monday 4 June 2007

Grange Park Opera

We've just come back from a trip out to Hampshire where we saw 2 productions at Grange Park Opera. This is their 10th season, so everyone is celebrating. We saw The Magic Flute and Prokofiev's The Gambler. Reviews will appear in due course.

On Saturday, though, it began to look as if we might never get there. D's sports car started playing up so we had to turn round and go back home and swap cars back to my ordinary one. Then we got stuck in traffic going through Wandsworth. Finally, when we got to the hotel, I discovered I'd left my dress trousers behind, so had to attend performances wearing a pair of terracotta pink chinos! Still the music was fabulous as was the weather

Friday 1 June 2007

From this Month's Opera

Some gleanings from this month's Opera magazine.

In his editorial John Allison comments on the amount of contemporary work planned for performance in the UK next year (including WNO's The Sacrifice, from James MacMillan, that we plan to see). But of course its not all good news, Jonathan Harvey's new opera, Wagner Dream looks unlikely to come to the UK soon and George Benjamin's Into the Little Hill (premièred in Paris) is planned for Liverpool only!

The interview with Anna Netrebko makes one, again, question the effect that the press can have in creating a media character. The Netrebko of in this interview seems to be worlds away from the figure created by the media; she also seems to be firmly in control of her career, with admirably strong views on what does and does not suit her voice.

In another interview, Will Crutchfield talks about the Caramoor Festival. It is interesting, and fascinating to hear of Trovatore being sung as bel canto and I'd love to hear Crutchfield's promised (but not yet planned) ur-Barbiere with correct final cadences and no unwritten high notes.

Glyndebourne seems to have unearthed the original 1938 Caspar Neher backcloth for Macbeth. Now that we don't have a theatre museum, such finds in archives like Glyndebourne's become even more important.

Two major obituaries, that of Edmund Tracey and Colin Graham. Neither mentions much about their private life and both left one trying, vainly, to read between the lines and guess the nature of the personal relationships. How hum, I thought we got beyond the era when obit. writers had a series of stock, coy, phrases to indicate to those in the know that the articles subject was gay. I liked David Cairns's story of how Edmund Tracey faced down Lord Goodman and the Arts Council to get the ENO Ring going.

The Opera National du Rhin have just done Das Rheingold in their projected David McVicar Ring. Rodney Milnes gives it a very good write up and I think we might have to try catching the next instalment. Also in France, they did the complete Le Roi d'Ys in Saint Etienne. Having heard just the overture in concert (given by the Salomon Orchestra) I'd love to hear the complete work.

Over in Germany, the Komsiche Oper's new Le Contes d'Hoffman sounds fascinating, but they use the Oeser edition which includes everything including the kitchen sink.

A lovely article by Max Loppert on Research Opera. In fact it was a review of Meyerbeer's Crociato in Egitto from Venice, but Loppert coined the very apt term Research Opera to cover "The sort of work the public may never have heard of but a small section of the critics and a large section of the opera-loonies ... have been waiting to hear all their lives". I know just what he means, being a fully paid up opera looney myself.

Moniusko's Halka being performed in Sarasota might have seemed to come into this category, but in fact Sarasota has a large Polish population.

I'll pass over the reviews of the UK operas which I attended. Its always fascinating to read other people's opinions, but equally puzzling at how widely differing opinions can come about when everyone was watching the same work. David Cairns contributes a fascinating review of the Roger Norrington recording of Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini, one that uses the Weimar version. I must confess that I was rather puzzled as to why that version had been chosen when I heard Norrington and his Stuttgart forces perform it a the proms the other year.

There is also a review of The Opera of Meyerbeer by Robert Ignatius Letellier, notable because Father Letellier was once a curate at a church where I used to sing.

The We Hear that column has its usual selection of tantalising glimpses of the future. John Mark Ainsley as Captain Vere at Glyndebourne in 2010; Sarah Connolly and Sarah Tynan as Romeo and Juliet (Bellini) for Opera North in 2008; Natalie Dessay doing her first Melisande in Vienna in 2009; Richard Jones directing Falstaff at Glyndebourne in 2009. Also at Glyndebourne, a new Meistersinger (!!!), their first I think, to be directed by Christoph Loy. Also on the subject of Meistersinger, Richard Jones is doing the work for WNO in 2009-10 with Bryn Terfel singing his first Hans Sachs. Rossini's Matilde de Shabran is coming to Covent Garden in 2008, with Vesselina Ksarove and Juan Diego Florez - I can't wait! (See I really am an opera looney).

Can someone tell my why Julian Joseph's new opera for the City of London Festival is a jazz based one, even though its subject is a black guy who played the violin with Beethoven!

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