Archive for February, 2010

Musical podiums?

Posted in News on February 24, 2010 by figarosi

Today’s inbox has young and upcoming Omer M. Wellber as the new music director at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia and the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana. He begins with the 2011-12 season after Maestro Lorin Maazel’s contract expires. He will have the title of principal guest conductor with the next season. Only 28, he is principal conductor at the Israeli Opera and, under the wing of Daniel Barenboim, has future dates at Berlin’s Staatsoper, Venice’s La Fenice and Milan’s La Scala as well as dates with the Israel Philharmonic at the invitation of Zubin Mehta.

Speaking of the 79-year-old Maestro Maazel, he is being publicly wooed by the city of Munich. He has, according to the city’s spokesperson, tentatively agreed to be principal conductor of the Munich Philharmonic after Thielemann’s contract expires in 2012. He wants more of a “guest” role and the city wants more of a “supervisor.”


Rieu on the Rocks

Posted in News on February 19, 2010 by figarosi

The famed “Waltzing Dutchman,” Andre Rieu, has hit a financial bump. Since his first album in 1994, his regular-as-clockwork platinum disks and widely successful touring with Viennese romantic music signals nothing but wild success. But, as the important French financial daily Les Echos has reported, his company had a loss of 14 million Euros in 2008, the last public report available.

His tours are elaborate, with some 110 employees, including 35 full-time musicians. He is known for his attention to detail and his shows, requiring several buses and trucks with his image on the side, are famous throughout Europe. Reportedly his one-million Euro Stradivarias and several of his building are collateral for the bank loans needed to keep operating.

He is reportedly the sixth-largest selling artist in the world, ahead of Elton John, and his current album, “Vienna Forever,” is number two on the UK charts – a placement for classical music not seen in two decades. His current income is sound but cost management is likely a new priority.

Memorable Elektra at Baden-Baden

Posted in Reviews on February 10, 2010 by figarosi

My writing – and lots of photos – are now posted about the recent Elektra at Baden-Baden. It’s all on

A Götterdämmerung for Salzburg’s Easter Festival?

Posted in News on February 8, 2010 by figarosi

There are only a few weeks before the Salzburg Easter Festival kicks off and Austria is reeling from a major embezzlement scandal at the Festival. The politician who is the festival’s president is even feeling, like Wagner’s Götterdämmerung with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic, that the whole thing might come tumbling down. The UK’s Independent has a good summary today.

Nantes goes crazy!

Posted in News on February 6, 2010 by figarosi

I always considered it a “festival” for classical music junkies. Something like those German beer festivals for those who enjoy the brew. The 2010 edition of La Folle Journée de Nantes (“Crazy day in Nantes”), the sixteenth, took place from January 27 to the 31st under the guidance of René Martin, its founder and artistic director. It is always held at the end of January in Atlantic port city in France and this year sold a record 128,000 tickets – a remarkable number for a long weekend of concerts.

Concerts start usually at 9 a.m. and continue till after 11 p. m. Held in the business-like convention center in Nantes, there is no picturesque setting, no champagne on the grass, no high prices and the dress is informal. There are always seven or eight concerts to choose from running at the same time and the venues range from a 200 seat hall to the main auditorium which seats about 2000. This year is the year of Chopin and the 1500 artists that show up played his music and those of his contemporaries.  The theme for next year is post-Romanticism – music of Mahler, Strauss and the Vienna School. You might hear some Brahms and Liszt too as the musical boundaries are not terribly rigid in this setting.

The success of this celebration of music-making takes many forms. There are several programs which are televised throughout France – the French-German channel Arte devoted an entire day this year. The “festival” has produced offsprings which are held from 4 to 7 March in Bilbao, Spain, from April 30 to May 5 in several cities in Japan, from 2 to 6 June in Rio de Janerio and from June 11 to 13 in Warsaw. The website is

Olga Neuwirth

Posted in News on February 1, 2010 by figarosi

Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth, 41, has won the prestigious Grand Austrian State Prize for 2010. The award will be presented at a ceremony in Vienna on April 8. The prize is awarded once every year and is the Austria’s highest arts honor.

She studied composition at the Vienna Hochschule für Musik as well as at the San Francisco Conservatory. In 1993-94 she studied with Tristan Murail in Paris with additonal work at ICRAM in Paris.

One of the world’s leading composers, Neuwirth’s music is regularly featured in new music concerts. Her second opera, “Lost Highways” premiered in Graz in 2003 and at Oberlin Conservatory and in New York City in February 2007. It was also seen in London in March 2008 presented by the English National Opera. With a libretto by Nobel Prize-winner Elfriede Jelinek, it follows the story of David Lynch’s 1996 film of the same name.