One of the true highlights of my year is the announcement of a new season every January. Yesterday morning was my third COC season announcement, but getting out to the press and our public with a season that has taken years to prepare still feels very special and probably even more special this time as 2011/12 was the first completely unprepared season when I started here.
It is impossible to say which of the operas I am most excited about. They have all been given equal care and all of them have wonderful artists on and off the stage and in the pit that I will be proud and happy to welcome, many of them for their first time with the COC.
And while we got mildly beaten up by the usual (and some unexpected!) suspects for the choice or rather non-choice of certain repertoire and one or the other casting decision, I am happy that the general response to our new season has been very positive. We will try to make it even better than it looks on paper.
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Posted by Alexander Neef / in Season / comments (9) / permalink
The last new production of The Magic Flute I have worked on was in 2004/05 at the Paris Opera. It is great to come back to this wonderful piece after six years. Not that I had forgotten how much I love it, but seeing it on the stage of the Four Seasons Centre in Diane Paulus' production with Myung-Hee Cho's magically beautiful sets and costumes did make me very happy yesterday evening.
While we get the production ready for its opening on January 29, I feel even more fortunate to see how my little daughter Marnie discovers the piece for the first time.
It is amazing to see how the magic of The Magic Flute works on a three-and-a-half year old. It all started with Johannes (our Music Director) giving her a book containing the opera's characters on cardboard and a little play theatre for Christmas. Ever since, Prince Tamino, Pamina, Sarastro and the Queen of the Night have become very popular in our home and so has Mozart's music. Marnie shows me her Flute characters and says "Papa, I wanna listen to that song" or when I dare put on other music she objects "No, Papa, I wanna listen to Magic Flute." And yesterday, when we took her to the evening rehearsal she didn't want to go home after it had ended, insisting that it should continue. We will bring her back as often as she wants.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Season / comments (3) / permalink
Is there another airline that - when you arrive at the airport at 6:15am - offers you to get on a 6:45am international flight instead of your scheduled 7:40am? You know which airline I'm talking about. Anyway, I was really grateful to get on my flight from Newark to Toronto without any airport waiting time which will allow me to put my luggage down at home before going to the office.
I had decided to add a day in New York to my schedule to hear a few young singers of the Met's Lindemann Program (including two wonderful Canadians, soprano Layla Claire and baritone Elliott Madore) and to be present for Sondra Radvanovsky's first Tosca at the Met. After her first Aida for the COC and her first Amelia (Un ballo in maschera) in Chicago this was her third big triumph this season. The ovation after her "Vissi d'arte" was so strong that she couldn't hold back her tears on stage. What a wonderful moment for a former young artist of the company. It felt very special to be there.
As it only happens in New York I ran into Christoph von Dohnányi and his wife Barbara on Broadway. One of the truly outstanding conductors of our time he had been my mentor Gerard Mortier's mentor in the 70s. We had worked together a few times in Salzburg and Paris, on two Strauss operas (Ariadne auf Naxos and Elektra) and a few symphonic concerts. Spending twenty minutes in his dressing room during a rehearsal break taught me more about Brahms and Richard Strauss than I could ever have learned through recordings or literature. I owe him a lot and it was wonderful to see him in great form. I just regret that I won't be able to hear one of his concerts with the New York Philharmonic in the upcoming weeks.
Posting this I am already back in Toronto for a press event about our new production of Magic Flute this morning. Tonight is the final run-through in the rehearsal room. We'll be on stage at the Four Seasons Centre on Saturday.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (1) / permalink
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