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Latest News

Ferrier Competition winners announced

29 April 2009, London, UK

The winner of this year’s Ferrier Competition, held at the Wigmore Hall in London, is soprano Sarah-Jane Brandon (25) from South Africa. Brandon is currently studying with Janis Kelly at the Royal College of Music and is managed by Askonas Holt.

The second prize was awarded to soprano Monica Bancos (26) from Romania who is also studying at the RCM where she is a Pidem Scholar.

German Soprano Angela Bic (28) won this year’s Ferrier Song Prize. She recently made her professional debut in Wagner’s Die Walküre with Freiburg Opera and studies with Lillian Watson at the Royal Academy of Music. Her accompanist Robin Davis (26) was awarded the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund Accompanist’s Prize.

Netherlands Opera appoints new Chief Conductor

16 April 2009, Amsterdam, Holland

Netherlands Opera (De Nederlandse Opera) has announced the appointment of Marc Albrecht as its new Chief Conductor. The German-born artist, whose interpretation of operas by Wagner and Richard Strauss have been widely acclaimed, will commence his initial four-year term at the beginning of the 2011/12 season.

The 45-year-old also becomes Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. Albrecht’s Netherlands appointments effectively reunite the two posts, most recently held by Ingo Metzmacher and Yakov Kreizberg, under one conductor.

Operas slashed from the 72nd Maggio Musicale Fiorentino festival

14 April 2009, Florence, Italy

In order to meet further cuts in government funding, the programme of this year's Maggio Festival in Florence has, practically at the last minute, been totally and drastically revised. The new theme is Suoni, Voci, Gesti, (Sounds, Voices, Gestures), a vague title which conveniently embraces many musical genres and seems to be a cover-up for the elimination of three of four operas from the original programme: Macbeth, Billy Budd, and Handel's Il Tempo del Tempo e del Disinganno. That leaves, on the opera front, Götterdämmerung, the last of the Ring cycle in the new production by the Spanish company La Fura dels Baus, which starts on 29 April. Also remaining is a newly commissioned opera by Matteo D'Amico, Patto di Sangue (22 and 24 May), along with a semi-staged version by Roberto Andò of Schubert's songcycle Winterreise, with Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake, on 27 May.

The overall musical programme of this year's Maggio does not suffer too greatly. The festival features three new orchestras (Abbado's Mozart Orchestra, Muti's Cherubini Orchestra and the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana), and two young conductors: Michele Mariotti and Leo McFall. However, opera, with its high costs, is clearly feeling the pinch in Florence this year and opera fans at the Maggio are bound to be disappointed.

Sky to become broadcast partner of Glyndebourne

14 April 2009, Glyndebourne, UK

Glyndebourne Opera and Sky Arts today announced a new partnership, which will see Sky Arts become the official UK broadcast partner of Glyndebourne for 2009. The collaboration will centre on a live, high-definition broadcast from Glyndebourne of L’elisir d’amore on Sky Arts on Saturday 15 August. This broadcast will be the culmination of a month of Saturday night programming of Glyndebourne operas on Sky Arts 2 and Sky Arts 2 HD. Highlights of the Glyndebourne opera series include the award-winning Giulio Cesare and Hänsel und Gretel.

The partnership will last for the whole of Glyndebourne’s 75th anniversary season this year, with broadcasting and relay initiatives planned for Glyndebourne on Tour, Glyndebourne on Screen and environmental projects.

Flanders Opera denies accusations of anti-Israeli sentiments

8 April 2009, Antwerp, Belgium

Flanders Opera, based in the Belgian cities of Antwerp and Ghent, has issued a statement in response to a series of articles published in the Joods Actueel, a Jewish monthly magazine which has accused the opera company of planning scenes that contain anti-Israeli sentiment in its forthcoming new production of Saint-Saëns Samson et Dalila, due to open on 28 April. In its most recent issue, Joods Actueel has published two opinion pieces which accuse Flanders Opera of planning a politically-motivated denigration of Israel. In a television report, the magazine suggested that Flanders Opera intends 'to burn the Israeli national flag on stage'.

General Director of Flanders Opera, Aviel Cahn, gave a firm rebuttal of what he termed as 'harsh' allegations: 'It is the duty of art to take a critical view of our times, tendencies and societies. Only in this way will it have social relevance. With this production of Samson et Dalila, directed by the Israeli-Palestinian team of Omri Nitzan and Amir Nizar Zuabi, we are challenged to cast a critical eye on a situation where the extremely complex relationship between oppressors and the oppressed will result in a violent explosion.'

The Flanders Opera statement continues as follows: 'The production is unique in bringing together an Israeli and a Palestinian artist who will try to analyse the suffering that has haunted the middle east for more than three millennia. A critical view of today's reality through the lens of history is not automatically an anti-Israeli act. Flanders Opera's production will give the opportunity to deepen our understanding of what is happening in this region of the world, and will be an occasion to bring together important artists from both sides of the argument. The involvement in this project of Israeli personalities such as Meir Shalev, Eran Riklis and Tom Segev, and the patronage of the European Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, speaks for itself. Israeli Opera is even considering inviting this production to its theatre in Tel Aviv. For Flanders Opera, this sort of dialogue is important and we want to make sure it continues in a cultured and philosophical manner. We would be happy to see the Joods Actueel present at our performances and discussions, and then hear their judgment.'

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