Thursday 31 August 2023

Birmingham Royal Ballet and Royal Ballet Sinfonia announce new Constant Lambert Conducting Fellow

Yi Wei
Yi Wei
Yi Wei, a Chinese conductor based in Manchester, has joined the Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia as the Constant Lambert Conducting Fellow for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 seasons.

Named after the Founding Music Director of The Royal Ballet & Birmingham Royal Ballet, The Constant Lambert Fellowship provides a tailor-made two-year programme for ballet conducting working across The Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet with a blend of performance, study and cover conducting.

Yi Wei’s first assignment in the role will be as Assistant Conductor on Birmingham Royal Ballet’s upcoming sold-out performances of Black Sabbath - The Ballet. He said; "It is such a privilege to join the BRB for the next two seasons, I am thrilled to start the season with Black Sabbath - The Ballet, very much looking forward to working with fantastic conductors, musicians and dancers."

Yi Wei studied conducting at the China Conservatory of Music and then obtained a postgraduate degree in conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music in 2022 where he was awarded the Brierley / Kershaw Prize.

Full details from the BRB website.

The Canada-based Azrieli Foundation presents the London debut of the Azrieli Music Prizes at Cadogan Hall

The Azrieli Music Prizes (AMP) were created by the Azrieli Foundation in 2014 to 'offer opportunities for the discovery, creation, performance and celebration of excellence in music composition'. 

The foundation is a Canadian non-profit organisation whose mission is to improve lives through Education, Research, Healthcare and the Arts mainly in Canada and Israel. There are three main prizes:

  • The Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music - awarded to a composer who has written the best new undiscovered work of Jewish music
  • The Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music - awarded to encourage composers to creatively and critically engage with the question "What is Jewish music?"
  • The Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music - offered to a Canadian composer to create a new musical work that creatively and critically engages with the complexities of composing concert music in Canada today
On 15 October 2023, the foundation is presenting the London debut concert of the Azrieli Music Prizes. At Cadogan Hall, the Philharmonia Orchestra, conductor Stephen Mercurio, with soprano, Sharon Azrieli, vocalist and sitar player, Sepideh Raissadat, shō player Naomi Sato and suona/sheng player Zhongxi Wu will perform the European premieres of three prize-winning works:
  • Shāhīn-nāmeh by Iman Habibi (Laureate, 2022 Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music), a song cycle for voice and orchestra based on 14th-century Judeo Persian poetry of Shahin Shirazi, featuring vocalist and sitar player Sepideh Raissadat
  • Birds Calling… from the Canada in You by Rita Ueda (Laureate – 2022 Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music), a work for shō, suona/sheng and orchestra which takes the audience on a journey incorporating Japanese, Chinese and Western musical traditions within a uniquely Canadian bird song soundscape
  • Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord by Aharon Harlap (Laureate, 2022 Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music), a work for soprano and orchestra with Sharon Azrieli as soloist. Deeply inspired by the Psalms, each of the five movements corresponds to a Psalm of a different mood and character.     
Full details from the Cadogan Hall website.

Exploring Rachmaninoff's songs alongside those of his contemporaries: Iain Burnside and friends at Wigmore Hall

Sergey Rachmaninoff
Sergey Rachmaninoff
Rachmaninoff wrote songs from his years at the Moscow Conservatory right through to 1916. There are over 80 songs (románsy in Russian) setting Russian romantic writers and poets. Intimately connected to the literature of the Russia that he left behind in 1917, the song genre was one to which Rachmaninoff never returned during his exile.

Running from September 2023 until June next year is a Rachmaninoff Song Series at Wigmore Hall, four concerts curated by pianist Iain Burnside in partnership with Philip Bullock, professor of Russian literature and music at Oxford. The first concert, on 28 September 2023, features soprano Anush Hovhannisyan and bass Jasurbek Khaydarov with Iain Burnside in a programme of songs by Rachmaninoff alongside those of his contemporaries, Nikolay Myaskosvksy (1881-1950), Anatoly Alexandrov (1888-1982), Mikhail Gnesin (1883-1957), Yuliya Veysberg (1880-1942) and Maximilian Steinberg (1883-1946).

The idea behind the series is to intertwine Rachmaninoff romances with those of his contemporaries, many now forgotten, ‘cancelled’ after the Revolution and First World War. There are wonderful discoveries here, both poetic and musical, and many stories to be told, and the curators feel that, leaving aside Rachmaninoff, most of this repertoire has never been heard in the UK before. Philip Bullock will be giving pre-concert talks introducing the repertoire.

Full details from the Wigmore Hall website.

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Back to Wonderland: Will Todd's Alice opera returns in an engaging new production at IF Opera

Will Todd: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Dominick Felix - IF Opera (Photo: LAIMA)
Will Todd: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Dominick Felix - IF Opera (Photo: LAIMA)

Will Todd: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; Lara Marie Muller, Dominick Felix, Rebecca Afonwy-Jones, Bethany Horak-Hallett, Joanna Harries, Dan D'Souza, Lorena Paz Nieto, Monica McGee, Keel Watson, Alexey Gusev,Emyr Wyn Jones, Katy Thomson, director: Lysanne van Overbeek, conductor Mark Austin; IF Opera at Belcombe Court

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Will Todd's opera still engages old and young in a brand new production from IF Opera

The trick with a good family opera is to provide the right level of entertainment for both adults and children. Will Todd and Maggie Gottlieb's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, celebrating the 10th anniversary of its debut at Opera Holland Park (OHP), does just that.

A free fantasy on Lewis Carroll's stories, the opera combines highly coloured incarnations of well-known characters, singable tunes with sly references to popular genres, and a plot that merges girls' own adventure with a fight for workers' rights worthy of Brecht and Weill. Oh, and a Blues singing caterpillar, a coloratura bottle and a Queen of Hearts in drag. What's not to love.

As part of its Summer 2023 season at Belcombe Court, IF Opera mounted a new production of Will Todd's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland performed back to back with Giordano's Fedora [see my review] and sharing several members of cast and creative team. I saw the OHP production twice, both times in its original outdoor promenade version (though the company also mounted and indoor version of the production at the Royal Opera's Linbury Studio). At Belcombe, the production was indoors but beforehand members of the cast were roaming the gardens in costume, interacting with the children in the audience.

Will Todd: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lara Marie Muller, Keel Watson - IF Opera (Photo: LAIMA)
Will Todd: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lara Marie Muller, Keel Watson - IF Opera (Photo: LAIMA)

The look and feel of director Lysanne van Overbeek and designer Alisa Kalyanova's production seemed to deliberately leave the Tenniel images of the characters behind. And in an age when familiar characters can get reinvented in a variety of media, this was an understandable touch, encouraging us to see the opera as an entity in its own right.

Tony Cooper revisits Valentin Schwarz’ Ring cycle at Bayreuth and relishes it second time around.

Wagner: Die Walkure - Claire Barnett-Jones, Elisabeth Teige, Catherine Foster, Christa Mayer, Stephanie Houtzeel - Bayreuth Festival 2023 (Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele / Enrico Nawrath)
Wagner: Die Walkure - Act Three - Claire Barnett-Jones, Elisabeth Teige, Catherine Foster, Christa Mayer, Stephanie Houtzeel - Bayreuth Festival 2023
(Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele / Enrico Nawrath)
Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen; Aile Asszonyi, Hailey Clark, Okka von der Damerau, Markus Eiche, Catherine Foster, Mika Kares, Daniel Kirch, Daniela Köhler, Tomasz Konieczny, Christa Mayer, Andreas Schager, Olafur Sigurdarson, Elisabeth Teige,  Klaus Florian Vogt, Georg Zeppenfeld, dir: Valentin Schwarz; cond: Pietari Inkinen; Bayreuth Festival.
Reviewed by Tony Cooper, 28 August 2023

Finnish-born conductor, Pietari Inkinen, proudly walked the Grüner Hügel this year to conduct the complete Ring following his 2021 festival début with Die Walküre. 

Austrian stage director, Valentin Schwarz - who came to prominence in tandem with set designer Andrea Cozzi after winning the 2017 Ring Award - made his Bayreuth Festival début with this Ring cycle last year which received a mixed reception although it’s faring much better this year, conducted by Pietari Inkinen. An interesting, thoughtful and innovative production, hopefully it will probably be viewed in a better light as time go by. 

An international competition for stage direction and stage design in musical theatre held on a triennial basis in the Austrian city of Graz, the Ring Award enables and encourages a critical reflection of current trends and developments in musical theatre offering a platform to young artists in getting international resonance for their ideas of what contemporary musical theatre should be like. 

Therefore, a director going places, Schwarz has worked in some prestigious houses over the past few years. For instance, he directed Mozart’s Cosí fan tutte at Theater an der Wien, Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera at Staatstheater Darmstadt, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale at Opéra National de Montpellier and York Holler’s Der Meister und Margarita at Oper Köln. 

Without question, directing Wagner, especially the Ring, poses a tremendous artistic challenge for any director but Schwarz took that task head on conjuring up a good and interesting (but bizarre) production. However, I like directors who push boundaries and as with Frank Castorf’s controversial Ring at Bayreuth staged for Wagner’s bicentennial in 2013, Schwarz surely follows in his wake. 

Change is necessary, I feel, at Bayreuth to ensure a healthy future for the festival and, indeed, elsewhere, too. And change certainly came with Wieland Wagner who ushered in a new dawn on the Grüner Hügel when he dumped the elaborate naturalistic sets and grand productions common in his grandfather’s day replacing them by minimalist affairs - all against forceful opposition. 

For instance, his Brechtian-influenced Parsifal in 1951 (the first Bayreuth Festival after the Second World War) was booed to bits while Patrice Chéreau’s politically motivated centenary Ring in 1976 received the same kind of reception. Surprisingly, today, they’re now hailed as masterpieces.  

Wagner: Das Rheingold - Evelin Nowak, Olafur Sigurdarason, Simone Schroder, Stephanie Houtzeel - Bayreuth Festival 2023 (Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele / Enrico Nawrath)
Wagner: Das Rheingold - Evelin Nowak, Olafur Sigurdarason, Simone Schroder, Stephanie Houtzeel - Bayreuth Festival 2023
(Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele / Enrico Nawrath)

Tuesday 29 August 2023

Follies of youthful passion: Umberto Giordano's Fedora at IF Opera

Giordano: Fedora - Charne Rochford, Sky Ingram - IF Opera (Photo: LAIMA)
Giordano: Fedora - Charne Rochford, Sky Ingram - IF Opera (Photo: LAIMA)

Giordano: Fedora; Sky Ingram, Charne Rochford, Lorena Paz Nieto, Alexey Gusev, director: John Wilkie, Bristol Ensemble, conductor: Oliver Gooch; IF Opera at Belcombe Court

A young cast and an admirably lucid production bring out the passion and melodic charms of Giordano's thriller

Umberto Giordani's 1898 opera Fedora doesn't get out often enough. You can find plenty off reason why it shouldn't work, but those sort of criteria apply equally to operas firmly in the canon, and there is plenty of music in the piece of a quality to make an spending an evening in the theatre with Fedora a rewarding experience.

At IF Opera, director John Wilkie [see my recent interview with John] gave Fedora (seen 26 August 2023) a good rethinking. Conducted by Oliver Gooch (IF Opera's artistic director) with the Bristol Ensemble in the pit, the production featured Sky Ingram as Fedora, Charne Rochford as Loris, Lorena Paz Nieto as Olga and Alexey Gusev as De Siriex.

Presented in period, with elegant designs by Alisa Kalyanova, Wilkie's production told a complex story with a lovely clarity, aided by a young cast who were rather closer in age to their characters than usually happens in this opera. Essentially, it became about the follies of youthful passion. 

Based on a play by French playwright Victorien Sardou, Arturo Colauti's libretto lacks the elegance, clarity and imagination that Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa's libretto for Puccini's Tosca has, another opera based on Sardou play. Colauti's compression of Sardou's four-act play means that important plot elements get mentioned in passing and key moments are not developed. Neither protagonist is an easily lovable character, Fedora is driven by a thirst for revenge, and Loris has killed her lover. The compression means we never really get to know them adequately. After Act One of Puccini's Tosca, we know a lot about the three principal characters. After Act One of Fedora we haven't even met Loris, and when we do, in Act Two, much of his declaration of love for Fedora takes place off stage. 

All this makes a considerable challenge for performers. The success of IF Opera's production lay in the clarity with which John Wilkie unfolded the drama and the characters' motivations, and the passion both principals brought to their roles.

Giordano: Fedora - Dominick Felix, Henry Grant Kerswell, Rebecca Afonwy-Jones, Andres Presno, Sky Ingram - IF Opera (Photo: LAIMA)
Giordano: Fedora - Dominick Felix, Henry Grant Kerswell, Rebecca Afonwy-Jones, Andrés Presno, Sky Ingram - IF Opera (Photo: LAIMA)    

Friday 25 August 2023

New AI-enhanced performance technologies created at MIT for new production of Tod Machover's first opera VALIS

Hot-foot from his ground-breaking new production of Wagner's Parsifal at this year's Bayreuth Festival using Augmented Reality [see Tony's review], director Jay Scheib is returning to the theatre to direct the first new production almost 30 years of Tod Machover's first opera VALIS. 

Based on a story by Science Fiction author Philip K. Dick, VALIS was written by Tod Machover in 1987, utilising Giuseppe di Giugno's digital synthesizer 4X system to process voices. After studying with Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions in New York, Machover arrived in at IRCAM in Paris in 1978 and was introduced to Giuseppe di Giugno's digital synthesizers, based on the concept that "synthesizers should be made for musicians, not for the people that make them." 

The new production of VALIS takes place at the MIT Theater Arts Performance Space, 345 Vassar Street, Cambridge MA, USA 8-10 September 2023. For this production, Jay Scheib (who is a colleague of Tod Machover's at MIT) will be using new AI-enhanced performance technologies created especially for this production at the MIT Media Lab. 

The production features bass-baritone Davone Tines and mezzo-soprano Anais Reno, with an ensemble of young performers, Tod Machover conducts. The production is co-presented by MIT Media Lab / MIT Theater Arts / Opera Of The Future.

Further information from the MIT website, and there is a striking video trailer.

Klaus Florian Vogt is exemplary in the title-role of Tannhäuser at the Bayreuth Festival

Wagner: Tannhäuser - Le Gateau Chocolat - Bayreuth Festival (Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele / Enrico Nawrath)
Wagner: Tannhäuser - Le Gateau Chocolat - Bayreuth Festival (Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele / Enrico Nawrath)

Wagner: Tannhäuser; Jens-Erik Aasbø, Markus Eiche, Günther Groissböck, Julia Grüter, Ekaterina Gubanova, Siyabonga Maqungo, Jorge Rodríguez-Norton, Olafur Sigurdarson, Elisabeth Teige, Klaus Florian Vogt; dir: Tobias Kratzer; cond: Nathalie Stutzmann; Bayreuth Festival  
Reviewed by Tony Cooper, 23 August 2023

Katharina Wagner puts in a Hitchcock-style appearance in this compelling and telling production of Tannhäuser. 

This current production of Tannhäuser by Tobias Kratzer (which, incidentally, received its première in Dresden on 19th October 1845) chalks up the opera’s ninth staging at the Bayreuth Festival and was first seen in 2019. It’s now making its final bow following a four-year tenure on the Grüner Hügel. Surprisingly, no other work in the Wagner canon has received such few productions.  

By the way, Kratzer made his Bayreuth début with this production which, I feel, has lost none of its shine or momentum since I attended its première. And I’m pleased to say that it was well received by the cognoscenti of the Grüner Hügel as opposed to Sebastian Baumgarten’s realization which received a chorus of disapproval from the army of traditionally-minded Wagnerites. 

Wagner: Tannhäuser - Klaus Floria Vogt, Ekaterina Gubanova - Bayreuth Festival (Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele / Enrico Nawrath)
Wagner: Tannhäuser - Klaus Floria Vogt, Ekaterina Gubanova - Bayreuth Festival (Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele / Enrico Nawrath)

Primarily based on the Pilgrims’ Chorus and partly on the contrasting music of the orgies in the court of Venus, the overture - summarising the theme of the whole story focusing on the struggle between sacred and profane love and redemption through love, a theme running through many of Wagner’s later works - was brilliantly played with Nathalie Stutzmann driving the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra to a stirring conclusion.  

Prom 50: large-scale drama from Allan Clayton, Philharmonia Chorus, Academy of Ancient Music, Laurence Cummings in Handel's Samson

Handel: Samson - Philharmonia Chorus, Academy of Ancient Music, Laurence Cummings - BBC Proms (Photo: BBC/ Sisi Burn)
Handel: Samson - Philharmonia Chorus, Academy of Ancient Music, Laurence Cummings - BBC Proms (Photo: BBC/ Sisi Burn)

George Frideric Handel: Samson; Allan Clayton, Jacquelyn Stucker, Joélle Harvey, Jess Dandy, Brindley Sherratt, Jonathan Lemalu, Philharmonic Chorus, Academy of Ancient Music, Laurence Cummings; BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall

Allan Clayton is towering in the title role, in a large-scale performance from soloists, chorus and orchestra that fills the Royal Albert Hall magnificently

Handel's 1743 oratorio Samson was always huge. The uncut original version has significantly over three hours of music, [John Butt's recording lasts 3 hours 24 minutes, see my review] with a towering title role unusually given to a tenor (testament to Handel's confidence in his original tenor, John Beard), and a dramatic arc that reflects the scale Milton's original drama. It was one of his most successful oratorios during his lifetime and Handel tinkered with it from the word go, in order to reduce the length. Perhaps significantly, he cut little of import after Samson's scene with Dalila.

As such, the work has suffered when being revived in modern concert conditions. For the BBC Proms performance at the Royal Albert Hall on 23 August 2023, there was still the need to fill the evening slot and the economics of presenting the work in a performance running well over four hours. Directing the Academy of Ancient Music and Philharmonia Chorus, Laurence Cummings opted for a version true to Handel's revisions in 1743, trimming the work down to around 130 minutes of music. Allan Clayton was Samson with Jacquelyn Stucker as Dalila, Joélle Harvey as the Israelite Woman and Philistine Woman, Jess Dandy was Micah, Brindley Sherratt was Harapha and Jonathan Lemalu was Manoa, with Will Pate (from the choir) as the Messenger.

Handel: Samson - Allan Clayton - Philharmonia Chorus, Academy of Ancient Music, Laurence Cummings - BBC Proms (Photo: BBC/ Sisi Burn)
Handel: Samson - Allan Clayton - Philharmonia Chorus, Academy of Ancient Music, Laurence Cummings - BBC Proms (Photo: BBC/ Sisi Burn)

Cummings had opted to 'give it large' in other ways. There was a choir of over 100 singers with an orchestra to match including six oboes, three bassoons and three horns plus a body of some 40 strings. There were two harpsichords (Cummings directed from one and Alastair Ross played the other) with Stephen Farr on organ. The balance, thus, favoured the non-keyboard instruments but this was a compromise worth making, I think, for the chance to hear such a fine performance on a large-scale.

Thursday 24 August 2023

The Bayreuth Festival is thrust into a new age, the digital age, by the application of Augmented Reality in a ground-breaking new production of Wagner's Parsifal

Wagner: Parsifal - Georg Zeppenfeld - Bayreuth Festival (Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele / Enrico Nawrath)
Wagner: Parsifal - Georg Zeppenfeld - Bayreuth Festival (Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele / Enrico Nawrath)

Wagner: Parsifal; Ekaterina Gubanova, Tobias Kehrer, Andreas Schager, Jordan Shanahan, Derek Welton, Georg Zeppenfeld; dir: Jay Scheib; cond: Pablo Heras-Casado; Bayreuth Festival
Reviewed by Tony Cooper, 23 August 2023

Through my 3D glasses I found myself wrapped up and entwined in an abundance of floating objects that seemingly one could touch! 

The 2023 season at the Bayreuth Festival opened with a ground-breaking new production of Parsifal directed by 53-year-old Jay Scheib, an American of international standing in the hi-tech world and a technological wizard like no other! A couple of his credits include Thomas Adès’ Powder Her Face (New York City Opera) and the Jim Steinman/Meat Loaf musical, Bat Out of Hell (Capitol Theatre, Düsseldorf).  The production also feature conductor Pablo Heras-Casado's debut at the festival.

Wagner: Parsifal - Andreas Schager, Elina Garanca - Bayreuth Festival (Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele / Enrico Nawrath)
Wagner: Parsifal - Andreas Schager, Elina Garanca - Bayreuth Festival (Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele / Enrico Nawrath)

A professor of music and theatre arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jay Scheib’s well known for his genre-defying works of daring physicality and the integration of new (and used) technologies in live performance. Therefore, in his realization of Parsifal for Bayreuth he has thrust this iconic festival into the digital age by engaging in Augmented Reality.   

Wednesday 23 August 2023

The Central Band of the Royal Air Force to premiere new work by Thomas Hewitt Jones at concerts in aid of the Royal Air Force Music Services Association

The Central Band of the Royal Air Force will be premiering a new work from symphonic wind band by Thomas Hewitt Jones, Wings of Freedom, at concerts in London (29 September 2023) and Cambridge (1 October 2023). Conducted by Squadron Leader Chris I'Anson and Flight Lieutenant Michael Parsons, the band will be performing in two venues new to them, Holy Trinity Sloane Square and West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge. The concerts will raise funds for the Royal Air Force Music Services Association, with whom the Central Band of the RAF has close links, and which provides support to RAF Music Services.

Thomas Hewitt Jones' Wings of Freedom is a four-movement work that is inspired by the core values of the Royal Air Force with movements entitled 'Respect', 'Integrity', 'Service', and 'Excellence'. Alongside the new commission from Thomas Hewitt Jones, the London concert opens with In Our Service, composed by Hewitt Jones in honour of HM Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022. Both concert programmes include music by Kevin Day, John Williams, Jan Van der Roost and Alex Shapiro, whilst the Cambridge concert also features music by Steven Reineke.

The video shows the Central Band of the Royal Air Force performing Lights on in Space by Andrew Pearce, which was commissioned by Royal Air Force Music Services and dedicated to UK Space Command.

Full details from the RAF website.

Revenge is the name of the Dutchman’s game: Dmitri Tcherniakov’s Holländer at the Bayreuth Festival

Wagner: Der Fliegende Hollander - Tomislav Muzek, Elisabeth Teige, Nadine Weissmann - Bayreuth Festival (Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele/Enrico Nawrath)
Wagner: Der Fliegende Holländer - Tomislav Muzek, Elisabeth Teige, Nadine Weissmann - Bayreuth Festival (Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele/Enrico Nawrath)

Wagner: Der fliegende Holländer; Attilio Glaser, Tomislav Mužek, Elisabeth Teige, Michael Volle, Nadine Weissmann, Georg Zeppenfeld; dir: Dmitri Tcherniakov; cond: Oksana Lyniv; Bayreuth Festival
Reviewed by Tony Cooper, 23 August 2023

A creative and imaginative force, Dmitri Tcherniakov’s Holländer is a masterful production and one to chalk up

The myth of the Dutchman is thought to have come from an episode in Heinrich Heine’s satirical novel of 1833, Memoirs of Herr von Schnabelewopski, in which a character attends a theatrical performance of The Flying Dutchman in Amsterdam. Nevertheless, it could have also originated from the 17th-century Golden Age of the Dutch East India Company. However, the opera’s première took place in Dresden on 2nd January 1843 but was pulled from the repertoire after just four performances and shelved for a couple of decades. 

The inspiration for Wagner to write Der fliegende Holländer came about by a stormy crossing he made from East Prussia to England in 1839. Normally a week-long trip, it took over three weeks and the ship’s crew, superstitious as befitting old seadogs, oddly thought that Wagner, travelling with his first wife Christine Wilhelmine ‘Minna’ Planer, was bad news and responsible for the bad weather.  

At one point the ship (named after the Greek sea goddess ‘Thetis’ who married Peleus and became the mother of Achilles) put in for safety at the Norwegian fishing village of Sandvika, located on the southern coast of the island of Borøya, which, in turn, Wagner used as the setting for the opera. 

Wagner: Der Fliegende Hollander - Tomislav Muzek, Elisabeth Teige, Michael Volle - Bayreuth Festival (Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele/Enrico Nawrath)
Wagner: Der Fliegende Holländer - Tomislav Muzek, Elisabeth Teige, Michael Volle - Bayreuth Festival (Photo: Bayreuther Festspiele/Enrico Nawrath)

This year's Bayreuth Festival features 
Der fliegende Holländer directed by Dmitri Tcherniakov and conducted by Oksana LynivBut Dmitri Tcherniakov - a deconstructionist in practically every libretto he touches - drifts miles away from Wagner’s setting focusing on the town where the Dutchman grew up while examining the psychological aspects of his unsettling and disturbing persona. As such, it offers a unique and different approach to the composer’s first mature opera. 

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Vache Baroque's Rossi 400 project

Salamone Rossi (c1570-1630) was an Italian Jewish violinist and composer who worked in Mantua as a colleague of Monteverdi. Rossi was a violinist at the Mantuan court from 1587 to 1628. He probably died when the duchy was invaded by the Austrians when the ruling Gonzaga family was defeated, and the Jewish ghetto in Mantua was destroyed. Rossi was highly regarded by the Mantuan court, so much so that he was excused wearing the yellow badge required of Jews in Mantua. 

Title page of the first edition of Hashirim asher leSholomo (Venice: Pietro e Lorenzo Bragadino, 1623)
Title page of the first edition of Hashirim asher leSholomo
(Venice: Pietro e Lorenzo Bragadino, 1623)
Rossi published significant collections of madrigals and instrumental pieces which deserve to be better known, but if his name is known at all it is because of his Ha-shirim asher li-Shlomo, The Songs of Solomon in 1623 [the name is a deliberate pun]. These set the Hebrew texts of the Song of Solomon in music written in the Baroque style almost entirely unconnected to the Jewish cantorial tradition. The result was something almost unprecedented in terms of the development of synogogal music and to achieve it, Rossi had to use an innovative means of laying out the printed music as Hebrew is read Right to Left, and Western music notation is read Left to Right.

This Autumn, Vache Baroque, music director Jonathan Darbourne, is presenting a project to celebrate the 400 years since Rossi's publication of his ground-breaking  The Songs of Solomon. The project aims to encompass all of Rossi's musical styles, so that two videos have just been released of madrigals by Rossi and by Thomas Weelkes (who championed Rossi's music) in performances that include two BirdGang Ltd dancers, with Movement Director Ukweli Roach. The videos are:

There are a series of intimate evening concerts, presenting a mix of solo and ensemble music by Rossi and his contemporaries at Liberal Jewish Synagogue (9/9/2023), historic hall of The Vache house (4/11/2023) and Belsize Square Synagogue (11/11/2023). The performance at The Vache will be accompanied by a five-course dinner of Jewish-Italian cuisine and the performance at the Belsize Square Synagogue will be presented as part of the 2023 Tsitsit Jewish Fringe Festival.

Then on 13 December 2023, there will be a concert at St John's Smith Square where eight singers from Vache Baroque singers be joined instrumental ensemble La Vaghezza for an evening framing the story of Hanukkah through Rossi’s ‘Songs of Solomon’ psalm settings and compositions using the same texts by contemporaries such as Cavalli, Schütz, and Purcell.

Full details from the Vache Baroque website.


Unbound and Unleashed: Hubert Parry's cantata Prometheus Unbound gets the glorious first recording that it deserves

Hubert Parry: Prometheus Unbound, Blest Pair of Sirens; Sarah Fox, Sarah Connolly, David Butt Philip, Neal Davies, Crouch End Festival Chorus, London Mozart Players; Chandos
Hubert Parry: Prometheus Unbound, Blest Pair of Sirens; Sarah Fox, Sarah Connolly, David Butt Philip, Neal Davies, Crouch End Festival Chorus, London Mozart Players; Chandos

Drawing a remarkable line between Wagner and Elgar, Parry's glorious early cantata takes Shelley as its inspiration and in a fine performance makes a strong impression despite the complex philosophising of the text

The young Hubert Parry had ambitions to study with Brahms, but he needed to earn a living and study with Brahms wasn't feasible. So, Parry worked at Lloyd's Register and took lessons with the German pianist and composer Edward Dannreuther (1844-1905) who was resident in the UK from 1863 and who would remain Parry's mentor until his death. And in 1880, Dannreuther was the soloist in Parry's Piano Concerto in F sharp major.

Dannreuther venerated Brahms but was also a great champion of Wagner (he founded the London Wagner Society in 1872). In 1876 Dannreuther acquired tickets for the second Ring Cycle at Bayreuth; Parry went and also met Wagner. Parry's Wagnerian acquaintance continued in 1877 when the composer came to Britain for the London Wagner Festival. 

Unsurprisingly, Parry's commission for the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester in 1880 rather took on Wagnerian overtones. He wrote a cantata, Prometheus Unbound, selecting texts from Shelley's four-act drama, intending to create not a dramatic work but a philosophical psychodrama. The performance in Gloucester on 7 September 1880 had its good moments and plenty of bad ones, it was under-rehearsed and the parts were riddled with errors. But Stanford was interested and his 1881 performance with Cambridge University Music Society had the advantage of being better rehearsed. Reactions were mixed, both positive and negative, the Wagnerian elements did not always go down well.

The work has an important position in English musical history, there was nothing like it before. Yet after its performance by the Bach Choir in 1899, Parry's Prometheus Unbound seems to have died a death. It was revived by the BBC in 1980, to mark the work's centenary, but it is only now that a full studio recording has been made.

Following on from his success with the recording of Parry's Judith [see my review], William Vann has returned to the studio with the Crouch End Festival Chorus and London Mozart Players for a recording of Parry's Scenes from Prometheus Unbound and Blest Pair of Sirens on Chandos with soloists Sarah Fox (soprano), Sarah Connolly (mezzo-soprano), David Butt Philip (tenor) and Neal Davies (bass-baritone).

Monday 21 August 2023

Forgotten Voices at Purbeck International Chamber Music Festival

Forgotten Voices - Purbeck International Chamber Music Festival

Cellist Natalie Clein's Purbeck International Chamber Music Festival returns performances in historic locations in Dorset and the Isle of Purbeck from 7 to 10 September 2023. This year's festival features Natalie Clein, cello, Kate Royal, soprano, Danel Quartet, Nurit Stark, violin, Marianna Shirinyan, piano, Vivi Lachs, singer & author, Katharina Ziemke, painter in festival that has a strong folk influence, exploring different strands within classical and folk musics, under the title of Forgotten Voices.

The festival opens with a concert which pairs quartets by Schubert and Weinberg from the Danel Quartet with duos for violin and cello by Gliere and Kurtag from Natalie Clein and Nurit Stark, and this is followed by a programme of music by women composers including songs by Madeleine Dring from soprano Kate Royal, Henriette Bosman's cello sonata with Natalie Clein, and music by Clara Schumann and Amy Beach. 

An evening of duos and trios features Yiddish folk song alongside Bartok's folk-inspired duos, whilst another programme mixes song from Kate Royal and Yiddish popular song from singer Vivi Lachs. And the Bartok duos return in a family concert presented in association with the Swanage Folk Festival.

The final concert sees the Danel Quartet return with another Weinberg Quartet, plus music by Schulhof and Dick Kattenburg.

Full details from the festival website.

Jerry Herman & Harvey Fierstein's La Cage aux Folles at Regents Park Open Air Theatre

Jerry Herman & Harvey Fiertein: La Cage aux Folles - Carl Mullaney - Regents Park Open Air Theatre (Photo Johan Persson)
Jerry Herman & Harvey Fierstein: La Cage aux Folles
Carl Mullaney - Regents Park Open Air Theatre (Photo Johan Persson)

Jerry Herman & Harvey Fierstein: La Cage aux Folles; Carl Mullaney, Billy Carter, Ben Culleton, director: Timothy Sheader; Regents Park Open Air Theatre

A production that brings out the personal element amidst the glamour with terrific solo performances and a strong chorus

Having followed up his hits Hello, Dolly! (1964) and Mame (1966) with a sequence of interesting but cult musicals (Dear World, Mack & Mabel, The Grand Tour), in writing his 1983 show, La Cage aux Folles, composer Jerry Herman was deliberately aiming at an optimistic song-and-dance entertainment.

Thus despite the involvement of gay-activist Harvey Fierstein, writing the book, and the political Arthur Laurents, as producer, the resulting musical has many traditional elements of a Broadway musical and despite weaknesses has gained far more currency than a sharper, more political show might have.

What La Cage aux Folles did was bring drag onto mainstream Broadway for the first time and present a musical which was, at its heart, about the love between two middle-aged men. Despite an overly sentimental story, the show does not shy away from this and the finale ends with the two men singing of their love for each other.

What is surprising is that despite the passage of 40 years, the basic plot is alarmingly prescient with the attempt of a right-wing politician to expunge drag from the scene. The musical (which is based on Jean Poiret's original play, not the film) keeps this element low key and perhaps fudges it too much. In the film, drag queen Albin's incarnation as Jean-Michel's mother is in alarming agreement with Edouard Dindon's right-wing views.

We caught up with Regents Park Open Air Theatre's production of La Cage aux Folles on Saturday 19 August 2023. The weather was kind and we had the unlikely experience of seeing an all-singing, all-dancing Broadway musical in the open air. The theatre's departing artistic director, Timothy Sheader was directing with Carl Mullaney as Albin and Billy Carter as Georges, plus Ben Culleton as Jean-Michel.

Jerry Herman & Harvey Fierstein: La Cage aux Folles - The Cagelles - Regents Park Open Air Theatre (Photo Johan Persson)
Jerry Herman & Harvey Fierstein: La Cage aux Folles - The Cagelles - Regents Park Open Air Theatre (Photo Johan Persson)

Sunday 20 August 2023

A remarkable premiere: Granville Bantock's The Sphinx at the London Song Festival

The title-page of the first edition of Oscar Wilde's The Sphinx, with decorations by Charles Ricketts
The title-page of the first edition of Oscar Wilde's The Sphinx
with decorations by Charles Ricketts

Granville Bantock: The Sphinx; Arthur Bruce, Edward Jowle, Simon Butteriss, Nigel Foster; London Song Festival at Hinde Street Methodist Church

Bantock's remarkable large-scale symphonic song cycle on Oscar Wilde's early poem receives a belated premiere in terrific performances from two young baritones

In 1941, composer Granville Bantock (1868-1946) began work on a song-cycle for contralto or baritone and orchestra setting Oscar Wilde's early poem, The Sphinx. The composer was in his 70s and would never hear the work apart from playing the score through to his son and there never seems to have been a performance, in fact Bantock's reasons for setting the poem (to create a large-scale work lasting over an hour) remain obscure.

Dr Andy H King has created a new performing edition of Bantock's The Sphinx and this was the impetus for the work's premiere on Friday 18 August 2023 at the London Song Festival at Hinde Street Methodist Church when pianist Nigel Foster was joined by baritone Arthur Bruce and bass-baritone Edward Jowle. The sections of the song-cycle were interspersed with readings from actor Simon Butteriss in a programme devised by Nigel Foster.

Saturday 19 August 2023

There is a lot going on in what is a relatively short opera: director John Wilkie on directing Giordano's opera Fedora at IF Opera with a fantastic young cast

Wolf-Ferrari: Susanna's Secret - Richard Burkhard, Clare Presland - Opera Holland Park, 2019 (Photo: Ali Wright)
Wolf-Ferrari: Susanna's Secret - Richard Burkhard, Clare Presland - Opera Holland Park, 2019 (Photo: Ali Wright)

The Scottish director John Wilkie's production of Umberto Giordano's 1898 opera Fedora for IF Opera opens at Belcombe Court, Bradford on Avon next week (24 August 2023), conducted by Oliver Gooch, with Sky Ingram and Charne Rochford as Fedora and Loris.

John Wilkie
John Wilkie

John recently directed Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel at Opera Holland Park (OHP) [see my review of the Young Artists performance] and his 2019 production of Wolf-Ferrari's comedy Susanna's Secret is returning to OHP in 2024 [see my 2019 review]. John is also the Principal Stage Director of New Zealand Festival Opera where his productions have included Verdi's La traviata, Leoncavallo's Cavalleria rusticana / Mascagni's Pagliacci, and Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen. And John's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly for the Scottish company, Opera Bohemia, is currently on an extended tour of Scotland.

Premiered in Milan in 1898 with a cast including tenor Enrico Caruso, Fedora's popularity waned outside Italy after the 1920s, and it remains a relatively rarely performed work. Covent Garden mounted the work in 1994 for Mirella Freni and Opera Holland Park gave it in 2006 with Yvonne Kenny. Before being approached about directing it, John was aware of the work and familiar with the story, as well as knowing the composer's other operas, Andrea Chenier and Mala Vita, along with Giordano's lesser-known but interesting Tolstoy-based opera Siberia. John is also a fan of Verismo in general.

But he admits that Fedora is in many ways a bonkers piece. Often revived with a distinguished older soprano in the title role, John has a fantastic young cast and a few exciting weeks to stage the work, with everyone coming at the piece for the first time. John feels that they have the right balance with the cast and Skye Ingram promises to be a youthful Fedora bringing a compelling complexity to the role. John enjoys working with Skye, and the sense of collaborating with an artist on creating the role.

Friday 18 August 2023

Joel Lundberg's Odysseys and Apostrophes with pianist Kalle Stenbäcken

Joel Lundberg: Odysseys and Apostrophes; Kalle Stenbäcken
Joel Lundberg: Odysseys and Apostrophes; Kalle Stenbäcken

Swedish composer Joel Lundberg returns with a stream-of-consciousness-like musical journey that take us from impressionism and improvisation to late-night jazz.

Swedish composer Joel Lundberg has a diverse background; as a guitarist he toured with artists such as Debbie Harry and Mumford & Sons, he has a master's degree in composition and improvisation from the University of Gothenberg and as composer and arranger his work includes ambient music for the app Sleep Cycle. Lundberg released a disc of piano works, Music from a Room in 2020 [see my review]. Nos Lundberg is back with the pianist from that disc, Kalle Stenbäcken, with a new disc of piano music, Odysseys and Apostrophes.

The disc features eight pieces, The Flood, Sparks on the Horizon, Along the Waterway, Deceptive Perception, Ambiguous Plans, Endless Dichotomy, Ripples in the Doldrums and Dead Slow Mutiny, varying in duration between four and nine minutes. The CD booklet does not provide much explanation for the music, Lundberg wants you to think for yourself. So, for each piece there is a short, haiku-like text and an evocative image by Ola Lindgren Mellberg (who created the album cover).

Towards a production of Jane Eyre: in advance of their 2024 stage premiere of John Joubert's opera, Green Opera present a musical exploration of the work

John Joubert: Jane Eyre - Green Opera - A musical preview
Composer John Joubert (1927-2019) wrote his song-cycle Six Poems Of Emily Brontë in 1969, and perhaps inevitably was drawn to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. His opera Jane Eyre was written without commission to a libretto by Kenneth Birkin, a post-graduate student of Joubert’s at Birmingham University whose Ph.D. focused on the libretti of Strauss’s post-Hofmannsthal operas. Joubert worked on Jane Eyre from 1987 to 1997. The work never had a proper professional performance and remained one of those tantalising possibilities. 

To mark the 200th anniversary of Brontë’s birth in 2016, and in anticipation of Joubert’s 90th birthday in 2017, Kenneth Woods and the English Symphony Orchestra gave the work its proper professional premiere in October 2016 in Birmingham, and the resulting live recording was released on the SOMM label in March 2017 to coincide with Joubert’s birthday. 

The opera was performed and recorded in Joubert's revised version, reducing the piece from three to two acts, removing instrumental interludes (these are now part of his Symphony No. 3), and losing around 40 minutes of music so the work now comes in at just under two hours. You can read more in my review of the SOMM recording.

What the work hasn't had, yet, is a proper stage premiere. That is set to change as Green Opera plan to give the work its stage premiere next year. As a taster for this, the company has a musical preview event at the Century Club (2 September 2023) and Pendle Heritage Centre, Burnley (3 September), when it will be possible to hear soprano Laura Mekhail (Jane) and baritone, Thomas Chenhall (Rochester) in excerpts from the opera with pianist Elspeth Wilkes and chat to the production team. Full details from the Green Opera website.

The company is at the Arcola Theatre's Grimeborn Festival this year with two programmes. There is a double bill of opera's with two monodramas centred on women's experience, Poulenc's La voix humaine and Jake Heggie's At the statue of Venus. Egyptian soprano and rising-star, Laura Mekhail makes her UK operatic debut in the title role of Jake Heggie’s comic and moving monologue, whilst New Zealand soprano, Katherine McIndoe performs Poulenc's opera. Both are directed by Eleanor Burke.

The company's other presentation at Grimeborn is for one night only, when counter-tenor Logan Lopez Gonzalez performs 555: Verlaine en prison, an exploration of the poet Verlaine's time in prison after shooting his lover, Rimbaud.

Full details from the Green Opera website.

Thursday 17 August 2023

Works by 36 living composers in this year's Vale of Glamorgan Festival

Vale of Glamorgan Festival runs from 22 to 28 September 2023

This year's Vale of Glamorgan Festival runs from 22 to 28 September 2023 and features works by at least 36 living composers. Featured artists are Canadian violinist Mark Fewer and Cello Octet Amsterdam whilst featured composers are David John Roche and Huw Watkins.

At the festival's opening concert, Mark Fewer will be performing Bramwell Tovey’s immense Nine Daies Wonder with Tredegar Town Band. A musical depiction of Will Kempe's 100 mile Morris Dancing journey from London to Norwich in 1600, the piece was premiered by Mark Fewer in Toronto in 2007, and it is a remarkable combination of brass band intensity, virtuosic violin playing, and theatrics like nothing else; the soloist recites lines from Shakespeare during the work and he and the band are also called upon to sing. This concert also includes music for band by Gavin Higgins as well as a new piece by David John Roche commissioned by the festival.

Fewer will also be giving a duo recital with Huw Watkins when the programme includes music by Huw Watkins alongside works by Lynne Plowman, Sarah Lianne Lewis and Steph Power. The extraordinary Cello Octet Amsterdam will be performing music from Kate Moore and Philip Glass, to Theo Loevendie and Sofia Gubaidulina, to Arvo Pärt and Kinan Azmeh, and to a new work by the festival's artistic director, John Metcalf

Also featured in the festival are Sinfonia Cymru who will be performing music by Caroline Shaw, Augusta Read Thomas, Lera Auerbach, and Gabriela Lena Frank in Penarth Pier Pavilion, and Augusta Read Thomas will be giving a pre-concert talk.

The six young composers from the festival's Peter Reynolds Composer Studio will be working with Huw Watkins and Mark Fewer, and Cello Octet Amsterdam in two public masterclasses.

Full details from the festival's website.

Doing it on-line: a range of opportunities this Autumn from Guildhall School courses to Benedetti Foundation's Virtual Sessions

The Guildhall School has announced its Evening and Half-Term Courses for 2023,
Since the world changed in 2020, far more music information and tuition has been available on-line with providers being extremely creative about what is on offer. This Autumn, the Benedetti Foundation is offering a Baroque edition of its well-known Virtual Sessions, led by a team of specialists, whilst the Guildhall School is offering a range of arts-related evening and half-term courses, some on-line and some in person.

The Guildhall School has announced its Evening and Half-Term Courses for 2023, with subjects including Music, Drama, Creative Writing, Poetry, Arts PR, Event and Production Management and Introduction to Arts Evaluation. There are courses for age 13+ and courses for those age 18 and above. Some are in-person and some are on-line, so that Film Music Composition: Intermediate, for people with some experience, and Introduction to the Music Business are both on-line, whilst Singing for Beginners and Writing for an Orchestra are both in person. Other on-line courses of interest to all in the creative industries are A Guide to PR in the Arts and Introduction to Arts Evaluation

Full details from the Guildhall School website.

Over at the Benedetti Foundation, their Virtual Sessions resume in the Autumn providing a mix of fun and instruction for players via on-line sessions, some live, some not. From 2 to 13 October 2023, they are presenting the Baroque Sessions which will be led by a team of internationally acclaimed specialists including three musicians from Il Pomo D’oro - Zelfira Valova & Edson Scheid (violin) and Miguel Rincón Rodriguez (theorbo); Adrian Bending (percussion); Steven Devine (keyboard); Thomas Dunford and Elizabeth Kenny (lute); Clifton Harrison (viola); Margaret Faultless and Alina Ibragimova (violin) and David Watkin (cello).

For the weekend of 7 and 8 October, Benedetti Foundation’s Head of Creative Learning, Lucy Drever, will present the live sessions over the weekend. She is joined by a team of Baroque specialists who will deliver a series of live sessions on zoom across the weekend exploring the energetic and revolutionary world of baroque music. Participants may join as many sessions as they wish, and all sessions will be recorded and will be available to watch back within three months.

In addition, the Benedetti Foundation and music agency Askonas Holt are offering the opportunity for an early career baroque violinist to win a place with the Benedetti Baroque Orchestra as a member of the orchestra on its inaugural tour of Asia in 2024.

Full details from the Benedetti Foundation website.

Wednesday 16 August 2023

City Music Foundations concerts in historic Livery Halls

CMF Artists (Photo: Benjamin Ealovega)
CMF Artists (Photo: Benjamin Ealovega)
Thanks to the City Music Foundation's (CMF) partnership with Barts Heritage, the CMF's lunchtime concert series runs regularly in the historic Great Hall of Barts Hospital. 

The Great Hall closed in July for much-needed renovations and the current CMF Concert Series takes place in a series of historic Livery Halls in the City of London. The series launched in July, with the Mikeleiz-Zucchi Duo (accordion and saxophone) in the Pewterers' Hall (built in 1961 to replace one destroyed during the War).

On 13 September 2023, baritone Jonathan Eyers and pianist Roger Vignoles perform a programme of Finzi, Korngold and Loewe at the Armourer's Hall (built in 1839 on the site of the 14th century hall), then in October violinist Emmanuel Coppey and pianist Antoine Préat visit the Barber Surgeon's Hall (built in 1969), in November the Kleio Quartet is in the Apothecaries' Hall (built in the 17th century but incorporating earlier elements), and in December, soprano Claire Ward and pianist Jong Sun Woo are in the Tallow Chandlers' Hall (built in the 17th century).

Other concerts in the series take place at St Martin in the Fields, with pianist Mihai Ritivoiu on 15 September, and soprano Harriet Burns with pianist Michael Pandya on 29 September.

Full details from the CMF website.

Shot through with sheer delight & joie de vivre: the sounds of 1840s Copenhagen from Concerto Copenhagen as the perform music by 'The Strauss of the North'

Champagne! The Sound of Lumbye and His Idols; Concerto Copenhagen, Lars Ulrik Mortenson; Da Capo Records
Champagne! The Sound of Lumbye and His Idols; Concerto Copenhagen, Lars Ulrik Mortensen; Da Capo Records

An academic project shot through with sheer delight and joie de vivre as the Danish period instrument ensemble recreates the sounds of H. C. Lumbye's orchestra from the 1840s Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

Like many who work in the classical music industry, during lockdown Lars Ulrik Mortensen and Nikolaj de Fine Licht, respectively artistic director and managing director of Concerto Copenhagen, spent the time doing research. But not into further Baroque music, instead one of the areas they looked at was Hans Christian Lumbye (1810–1874) who gave concerts of his own and others’ music from the 1840s onwards at Hotel d’Angleterre and later in the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. The question they have tried to answer is what did Lumbye's orchestra actually sound like, back in the 1840s. Lumbye's main inspirations were Johann Strauss I (1804– 1849) and Joseph Lanner (1801–1843) and it is the music of these that features on Concerto Copenhagen and Lars Ulrik Mortensen disc Champagne! The Sound of Lumbye and His Idols from Da Capo Records [released 18 August 2023], a disc that eschews the modern, symphonic approach to this repertoire and returns it to its more vivid roots.

The concert hall in Tivoli as it appeared when The Tivoli Gardens opened in Copenhagen in 1843.
The concert hall in Tivoli as it appeared when The Tivoli Gardens opened in Copenhagen in 1843.

Lumbye was a huge star in 19th-century Copenhagen. He and his ensemble were very much associated with the concert hall at the Tivoli Gardens, and he quickly gained a reputation abroad, especially after a successful tour to Paris, Vienna and Berlin, earning the nickname "The Strauss of the North". With his compositions and their successful performances, he was both an artist and an entrepreneur. Inspired by the music of Johann Strauss I, he composed over 700 works, mainly galops, polkas, mazurkas and marches, but comparatively fewer waltzes.

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