I went to New York for a day to attend the season opening of New York City Opera (NYCO). You may know that I was briefly involved with the company before coming to the COC. It is always good to catch up with my old colleagues and I was really happy with the great performance of A Quiet Place they pulled off yesterday night.
Leonard Bernstein's last opera wasn't well received by the U.S.critics when it was first performed at Houston Grand Opera in 1983. Yesterday's opening was the piece's first performance in New York, but also felt like the rehabilitation of an important American opera, certainly helped by Christopher Alden's brilliant production (to me, he is the most important American director of our time) and an impeccable cast that included our great Canadian baritone Joshua Hopkins, conducted by the young Jayce Ogren.
NYCO has done a wonderful job with this important production of a major piece. If you happen to be in New York, the production runs until November 21.
I am at Newark Airport waiting for my flight to Toronto in order to be back for a noon Board meeting and tonight's performance of Death in Venice.
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I am back home after a short stop in Frankfurt yesterday where I saw their new production of Tales of Hoffmann. Of course, Frankfurt is the former home company of our Music Director Johannes, one of Germany's best companies (some say the most interesting) at the moment. Unfortunately, my main reason to go, auditioning a singer for a major Verdi part in a not so distant future season, fell through as the artist got sick. It's the time of the year and it was exactly the same cold and foggy weather there. Singers: be careful and stay healthy!
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When I was a student, Bologna was just an eight hour night-train ride from my university town in Germany. One year, I had friends doing an exchange with the University of Bologna and I used to come here a few times for long weekends. This was more than ten years ago, and I was very happy to come back.
Of all the old Italian cities, Bologna is the least invaded by tourists. It probably lacks the attraction of a world-famous art collection, but the historic centre of the city is as beautiful as one could wish for and the absence of big tourist crowds makes it even more authentic. The people are unbelievably friendly and hospitable and, as one would expect, the food absolutely wonderful.
Bologna also happens to be the home of the most important Italian artist management companies. During an afternoon of auditions yesterday I had a chance to catch up with the managers and hear their artists.
For a few years the situation for cultural organizations in Italy has become more and more difficult because of severe cuts in government support that leave most companies exposed to dealing with serious budget problems mostly caused by the obligation to continue paying tenured staff. Developing new revenue streams has proven to be difficult, mostly because of the total absence of a culture of tax credits for individual giving. In the homeland of opera one of the country's biggest companies in Genova is about to close and rumours say that Bologna might be next. I hope the performance of La Traviata I attended yesterday will not be the last I will ever see in the beautiful Teatro Communale.
Today I am off to Frankfurt in Germany to see the last performance on this European trip.
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