13 January — 1 February 2012 Royal Festival Hall Royal College of Music
Get closer to Sergei Prokofiev
A festival curated by Vladimir Jurowski
Get closer to one of the most misunderstood men in 20th-century music
Ivan the Terrible Vladimir Jurowski conducts the world premiere of a recently discovered oratorio version with Simon Callow narrator, Ewa Podles contralto, Andrey Breus baritone
Other highlights include
Prokofiev’s incidental music to Egyptian Nights with excerpts from texts by Bernard Shaw, Pushkin and Shakespeare read by Simon Callow Excerpts from ballets Cinderella and Chout Free classical club night with Gabriel Prokofiev and Rambert Dance Company lpo.org.uk/prokofiev ONLy CONNECT
By the Editor
In some ways, 2012 looks like being the lull before the storm. The storm, that is, of big composer anniversaries in 2013, when seasons everywhere will be dominated by Verdi, Wagner and Britten. The list of this year’s anniversary figures is more modest, headed by Debussy and Delius, both born 150 years ago, and Massenet, who died a century ago. We’ll be looking at their operatic legacies in these pages during the coming year.
Despite some localized doldrums ahead—and how else to describe the motley assortment of non-events promised by London’s costly 2012 Cultural Olympiad?—this year will be a challenging and crucial one for opera worldwide. Many of the issues facing everyone were highlighted in a recent speech by Opera Australia’s artistic director, Lyndon Terracini, and predictably enough he provoked an uproar, mostly from those reacting to selective reports of the speech. But the full text of his Peggy Glanville-Hicks Address (an annual event honouring the rather remarkable Australian composer, who died in 1990) is a stimulating and impassioned plea for companies, including his own, to connect with the communities they serve rather than just ‘clubby’ regular audiences—or face extinction. As he points out, very little in opera has changed since the 19th century, and he warns that it is not only the easy-to-blame global financial crisis that is causing opera companies to close. Since the Glanville-Hicks context gave him a captive new-music audience, he also used the occasion to challenge the notion that contemporary operas automatically represent brave programming. Despite, or perhaps because of, being a veteran of so many premieres, the former baritone called for new works (of which OA has some in the pipeline—one of them, as recently leaked, about Wikileaks’s Julian Assange) to be more carefully commissioned, and urged the Australia-wide Opera Conference to take the initiative here, rather than midwifing more standard-rep co-productions, as it currently does.
In a country of which the demographic is changing so profoundly thanks to Asian immigration, Terracini is striving to create a company representative of contemporary Australia. He questions why many Australians have so enthusiastically embraced Asia with their vibrant food culture, yet hang on to a meat-and-two-veg artistic culture. OA now has an Indigenous Advisory Group, and Aboriginal opera singers are going into schools. The company is expanding its work and tailoring it to the different aesthetics of Sydney, Melbourne and (soon) Brisbane—from 2014 it will be an east-coast-wide outfit.
yes, it is all happening (or not) in Australia, and that nation’s other companies are all at various turning points of their own. As we report in Newsdesk, the Brisbane-based Opera Queensland has made the exciting appointment of Lindy Hume (now in her final season as director of the Sydney Festival) as its new artistic director. A bold-minded stage director hungry to return to the world of opera, Hume is bound to shake things up in Brisneyland, as it is affectionately (I think) called. Down in Adelaide, the State Opera of South Australia has a new chief executive officer and artistic director in Timothy Sexton; and at West Australian Opera in Perth, an announcement is expected soon on the successor to Richard Mills as artistic director. Meanwhile, Melbourne’s Victorian Opera has just unveiled a new graduate programme in collaboration with the University of Melbourne’s Conservatorium of Music, selecting eight of the country’s brightest young singers for the first intake. A Happy New year to all readers, not least those Down Under who will get to 2012 before most of us.
Opera, January 2012