Three conductors are rehearsing at Bayreuth

Oksana Lyniv,
Simone Young,
Nathalie Stutzmann.

Some things do change.

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Strike ballot called at Welsh National Opera

The Musicians Union is balloting orchestra and chorus members over 15 percent pay cuts and job losses.

The cuts were enforced by policy decisions of Arts Cancel England (ACE) and its Welsh satrap, ACW.

An MU offiical said: ‘The WNO Orchestra is one of only two full-time professional orchestras in Wales. Reducing that provision would have a negative effect on the WNO’s artistic standards, Cardiff’s status as a hub for professional music, and cultural provision across Wales and large parts of England.’

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Opera of the Week: Albert Herring gets pickled

Albert Herring, brought to you by Slippedisc, courtesy of OperaVision is librettist Eric Crozier’s take on a story by Maupassant and transforms it into a quintessentially English comedy. Britten’s music characterises the inhabitants with a biting satirical wit – but there’s a touch of affection, too, for a vanished way of life. Opera North’s delightful production is staged in the intimacy of the Howard Assembly Room, the perfect environment for Giles Havergal’s staging which set the action in opera’s own period, mid-twentieth century complete with woollen pullovers and gingham blouses. The excellent ensemble includes some rising stars already seen on OperaVision including the welcome of Dafydd Jones in the title role and Katie Bray (Nancy), who recently dazzled in Garsington’s Il barbiere di Siviglia.

The Plot:  the village of Loxford is looking for its May Queen (the personification of spring time innocence) but all candidates are deemed morally unsuitable. Desperate, the locals decide a May King will have to do instead. They choose the blameless Albert Herring from the local fruit and vegetable shop. He isn’t keen but, stuck firmly under his mother’s thumb, he’ll do what he is told. However, after one rum-laced lemonade at the May Day ceremony, Albert disappears… and even greater chaos ensues.

Sung in English with subtitles in English.

Available on Friday 21st Jun 1900 CET  /  1800 London   /  1300 New York

 

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Congratulations to baritone, Julien Van Mellaerts who was presented with The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Laureate by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa at Opera Holland Park

Julien Van Mellaerts and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa at Opera Holland Park
Julien Van Mellaerts and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa at Opera Holland Park (Photo: Chris Christodoulou)

Congratulations to baritone Julien Van Mellaerts who was presented with The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Laureate by the Foundation’s Founder and Chair, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, at a gala concert to celebrate Dame Kiri’s 80th birthday at Opera Holland Park. 

The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation was created by Dame Kiri in 2003 and is committed to assisting outstanding young New Zealand singers who have complete dedication to their art, with judicious mentoring, financial support and career assistance. In 2022 the trustees of the Foundation established The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Laureate to honour a New Zealand singer whom the Foundation has nurtured, has achieved sustained excellence and who will continue their career into the future. The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Laureate carries a value of $60,000.

Julien Van Mellaerts won first prize in both the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition and the Kathleen Ferrier Awards, and represented New Zealand at BBC Cardiff Singer of the World in 2019. He has had great success in recent role and house debuts at the Verbier Festival, Salzburg Mozartwoche, Opéra National de Lorraine, Opera Holland Park and New Zealand Opera.

With Chelsea Opera Group, we caught him as Frédéric in Delibes’ Lakmé [see my review], and the Duke of Nottingham in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux [see my review]. At Opera Holland Park in 2021, he was a memorable Count in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro [see my review].

His disc, Songs of the Night, with soprano Rowan Pierce and pianist Lucy Colquhoun was released on Champs Hill Records in Autumn 2023 [see my review], and his debut recital on the same label, Songs of Travel and Home, with pianist James Baillieu, explored his own diverse origins and the meaning of home [see my review]. At Opera Holland Park, Julien Van Mellaerts, with pianist Dylan Perez, is co-curator and co-producer of the Opera in Song series and we caught him with pianist James Baillieu in Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin as part of the series in 2022 [see my review]


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Winchester Cathedral sends blessings to BBC boss who quit

Here’s the latest response from the besieged Dean  and Chapter to the Bishop’s demand for an inquiry over NDAs, bullying and general mismanagement allegations:

Winchester Cathedral welcomes Bishop Mounstephen’s Review. We are committed to fully engaging in the process, which will be conducted for the Bishop by an independent third party.

We appreciate the Bishop’s support and share a desire to quickly understand and address any concerns related to our culture, management, or governance — particularly in light of the recent concerns around the management of the much-loved choral tradition. We recognise that trust in the Cathedral’s leadership is essential for a healthy and flourishing church and see a review as an opportunity to work towards that end goal.

With the news of his resignation, we also want to thank Mark Byford (pictured) for his dedicated service as Senior Non-Executive Member of Chapter at Winchester Cathedral over the past seven years. His contribution to the Cathedral has been invaluable. We wish him every blessing for the future and will soon share plans to ensure we can honour his contribution.

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Ruth Leon recommends.. The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk

The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk – Digital Theatre

Click here to rent Rent £7.99 for 48hrs

Perhaps you’ve seen them floating over a Russian village? Or perhaps you’ve seen her toppling forward, arms full of wildflowers, as he arches above her head and steals an airborne kiss.

Partners in life and on canvas, Marc and Bella Chagall are immortalised as the picture of romance. But whilst on canvas they flew, in life, they walked through some of the most devastating times in history.

Daniel Jamieson’s The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk traces this young couple as they navigate the Pogroms, the Russian Revolution, and each other.

Emma Rice’s sumptuous co-production for the Bristol Old Vic, Kneehigh and Wise Children is drawn in a theatrical language as fluid as Chagall’s paintings and woven throughout with music and dance inspired by Russian Jewish traditions.

Read more

 

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San Francisco Symphony to merge with Opera?

A probing San Francisco Standard report by Adam Lashinsky, published today, into the turmoil at San Francisco Symphony raises many questions about the depth of its financial and managerial woes in the wake of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s resignation. It detects disquiet on many fronts.

… (CEO Matthew) Spivey also said that neither he nor the board have begun searching for Salonen’s replacement, a process that at other symphonies has taken years. 

Strange rumors are also swirling. Chatter is emanating from musician groups that (SFSO president) Geeslin—whose husband, financier Keith Geeslin, is a former president of the San Francisco Opera—is plotting to merge the two august organizations. It’s a suggestion that, on the one hand, is far-fetched— Spivey claims ignorance about these claims….

Read on here.

pictured: Spivey, Geeslin

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A complaint to Emma Stenning gets you this

Slippedisc readers who have made various complaints to the chief executive of the CBSO are receieving identical letters in reply, regardless of what they wrote to her. Here’s the pro forma response:

Dear . . .

Thank you for your e mail, and my apologies for such a delay in replying.

 

I see that you are referring to CBSO’s ‘Everyone is Welcome’ statement, which is where we set out our expectations for the respectful treatment of our staff.  

 

This is entirely in keeping with respect policies at many other cultural and public facing organisations.

 

The policy is written to encourage a friendly and mutually respectful mode of interaction between our staff and the public, and hopefully deters people from behaviours that could be seen as threatening or harassing.  

 

It is vital in our support of more junior members of staff that they know they can make their line managers or senior managers aware of any inappropriate behaviour, and our duty then to take action by addressing the incident.

 

We have a happy and collegiate working atmosphere at the CBSO, which I support and celebrate.

 

With regards to our policy regarding mobile phones, we have an approach whereby audiences are encouraged to take pictures or short video clips at theapplause breaks in our concerts.  From time to time, artists welcome people to film or photograph at other times also, and we are happy to work with them in support of this.

 

I happily engage in conversation with many of our audience members about our plans at the CBSO, including members drinks and open meetings to whichanyone can attend.  

 

Kind regards,

 

Emma.

 

One complainant tells us:  ‘the CEO must think we are all daft.’

That may be very close to the heart of the matter. If Stenning cared for her audience as much as she professes to do for ‘junior members of staff’ the present problems at Symphony Hall could be dealt with very smartly.

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My violin stops me falling over

Latest publicity pics from French violinist Esther Abrami suggest she is using her 1700 Carlo Giuseppe Testore instrument as a prop to keep her upright. Surely not what she intended.

Ms Abrami, 28, lives in Manchester and is socail media hyperactive. She performs the Mendelssohn concerto next week at Cheltenham Town Hall.

From her bio: Esther’s extensive and ever-growing following via social media has led her to work with fashion luxury brands including Ming Ray, Harper and Brookes, Kartel Scotland, Subella London, Alany Luxury and many others, as well as renowned music related brands such as D’Addario Strings and Beaumont Music. Esther is represented by the Influencer’s Agency The LDN Collective.  

Esther Abrami @sonyclassical

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Dear Alma, My violist lover says I’ve been coercive

From our agony aunt’s mailbag:

Dear Alma,

Your post last week on sexual fantasies on orchestral tour prompts me to share a personal dilemma.

For six or seven years, I’ve had an understanding with a member of the viola section that, when on tour, we spend the nights together. Both of us are married, with children. Neither of our spouses know. It’s cosy a little secret we share and it makes the often arduous and lonely business of touring that bit less uncomfortable.

I’m the concertmaster, by the way.

Here’s my problem: I’m fed up with the orchestra and have been offered a professorship in a big city. It’s a well-paid job and it ought to see me through to retirement. My wife and kids are excited about the move. My viola lover is not. She says that if I leave her she will go public on our long relationship which, she now claims, was coercive. Her version is that she, as an Asian string player, could not refuse a concertmaster’s sexual overture.

Where do I go from here?

Bowing out

Dear Bowing out,

The biggest problem I see in your inquiry is that you don’t seem to realize how quickly and spectacularly your life could explode.You are in a potentially very volatile situation here. From the outside, I must say, it doesn’t look good for you. You are in a position of power, sleeping with a subordinate, and she can easily claim that you suggested that this affair would be good for her job status, or any number of similar claims. When a senior member of an organization has an affair with a less powerful member, the complications of favoritism, conflict of interest, and unequal power dynamics are all ingredients which can put an ugly spotlight on the more powerful person. You would have the arduous task of defending yourself in what looks like a pretty dicey situation. You could even lose your new teaching job before it even starts. Or worse.

Any direction you chose, even staying in your current situation and turning down the teaching job, is now dangerous. She has the upper hand here. Tread carefully. I would immediately consult a lawyer to discuss your options. I am not a lawyer but maybe there is some way your lawyer can find a way to settle with her and have her sign a non-disclosure.

Bowing out, I don’t know if you are guilty or innocent. You think you are innocent, that this was consensual. Regardless of how you feel about it, the cards are stacked against you and this could easily destroy your family, current job, new job, and any hopes of a smooth road to retirement.

It’s a ticking time bomb. Don’t waste another moment. Get to a lawyer and protect your livelihood and family, as much as you possibly can, as quickly as you can.

Do it now. Right now.

Questions for Alma? Please put them in the comments section or send to DearAlmaQuery@gmail.com

 

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