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WildKat PR offers a training fund to all members of staff to help them learn new skills, develop their interests, and also to bring something new back to the team. James Hardie returned to his home city of Edinburgh last month to attend International Festival Encounters. Read about his experience below:

I used my WildKat training fund this year to attend International Festival Encounters.  It is a week-long course run by the Edinburgh International Festival in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  The aim is to bring together artistic entrepreneurs with leading industry members and academics from all over the world.

It was truly ‘international’.  Amongst the participants were producers, writers, actors, programmers, and performers from Australia, America, Russia, South Africa, Denmark, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, and the UK.  It was a wonderful melting pot of different perspectives and experiences from both young and old, all taking place under the watchful eye of Edinburgh Castle.

We were treated to five productions over the week, including dance, theatre, and opera.  My own highlight was seeing the Nederlands Dans Theater, who performed a show in three segments with scores by Max Richter and Philip Glass.  The middle segment—a haunting series of scenes as a dying man recalls his life’s regrets—was like watching a film; the way the dancers manipulated their bodies brought to mind ‘The Exorcist’.

After each performance, we were given the opportunity to reflect critically on what we had experienced.  After seeing Gianandrea Noseda conduct the Teatro Regio Torino in a somewhat confused production of Verdi’s Macbeth, Kate Molleson (music critic for the Guardian) guided us through our reactions, whilst also giving us a fascinating insight into the dual role of the music journalist as both critic and evangelist.

There were two ideas that have really stuck with me from the course.  Firstly, the idea that financial constraint inspires creativity.  This was most effectively expressed for me by a participant from Russia, who used the phrase, ‘the artist must be hungry’, encouraging enterprise from a position of deprivation.  The second idea concerned caring for and looking after an audience.  The creator of a particularly moving production called ‘Flight’ spoke about the audience leaving an incredibly intense and personal experience in the theatre, and re-joining the busy outside world, and the steps they took to ease this often difficult transition.

My fellow participants were a really inspiring bunch, and I learnt just as much from them as I did the experts.  I’m certain I will collaborate with them again in the future. The training fund is an amazing perk to have, available to us all here at WildKat once a year, and I’m very grateful to have been afforded this opportunity.

(Written on September 25, 2017 )

In today’s news: Cheap tickets to make theatre more attractive for the youth, a dream became true for the shirtless violist, and listen to the Montreal International Piano Competition. Salzburger Festspiele won’t be opened with ‘Tosca’ this year. Will the fusion between Theater- und Orchestergesellschaft Neubrandenburg/Neustrelitz and the Theater Vorpommern already take place in the beginning of 2018?

Evening Standard

Cheap theatre tickets for young people: How to see London’s best plays for next to nothing

You might never be able to get on to the property ladder but at least you can see some great plays

The Violin Channel

Shirtless Violinist – ‘I Dreamed a Dream’

‘The Shirtless Violinist‘ performs the evergreen broadway classic, ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from ‘Les Misérables’ … arranged for solo violin and torso.

Classic FM

We’re at the Montreal International Piano Competition, and the talent is blowing our minds

The final round of the Montreal International Piano Competition is underway, with the second of two legs taking place tonight in the city’s Maison Symphonique.

The Strad

British cellist Keith Harvey has died, aged 79

The English musician was principal cellist of the London Philharmonic and English Chamber orchestras, and later formed the Gabrieli String Quartet

Pizzicato

Staatskapelle Dresden will Thielemann behalten

Die Musiker der Sächsischen Staatskapelle Dresden haben am gestrigen Mittwoch in geheimer Wahl « mit großer Mehrheit » für eine Verlängerung des Vertrags mit ihrem Chefdirigenten Christian Thielemann (58) gestimmt.

Kulturradio vom RBB

Salzburger Festspiele 2018 ohne Philipp Stölzls “Tosca”

Philipp Stölzl wird im kommenden Jahr nicht die Osterfestspiele Salzburg mit Puccinis Oper “Tosca” eröffnen.

Klassik.com

Fusion zum Staatstheater Nordost schon Anfang 2018 möglich?

Die Fusion der Theater- und Orchestergesellschaft Neubrandenburg/Neustrelitz und des Theater Vorpommern könnte doch schon Anfang Januar 2018 erfolgen.

The Herald

Philanthropist leaves Edinburgh Napier university £750,000 to support classical musicians

A long-time university backer has left £750,000 in his will to support young classical musicians.

BBC News

A big change for Sydney Opera House

One of the world’s most iconic buildings is about to undergo its biggest ever renovation.

South China Morning Post

Donor frocks help Hong Kong helpers look the part on red carpet for premiere of documentary about their lives

After snub from corporate sponsors, style consultant Sheryl Bolden appealed for donation of dresses so the domestic helpers who appear in documentary The Helper looked the part on red carpet at film’s premiere.

Twitter

9 Ensemble. Civil Engagement

2Neue Brahms-Gedenkstätte auf Schloss Altenstein

Rhinegold
photo credit: Lukas Gojda

(Written on May 11, 2017 )

Classical News

In today’s classical news, Benjamin Baker joins Young Concert Artists, Inc. 17-year-old cellist and winner of BBC Young Musician 2016, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, signs to Decca Classics. Also, read about The Australian Art Quartet’s project ‘Scent of Memory’, mixing the waft of handpicked perfumes with the sounds of Tchaikovsky, Gurdjieff, and Mountfort.

Classical Music Magazine

Benjamin Baker joins YCA

Violinist Benjamin Baker has joined Young Concert Artists, Inc. after winning first prize at the organisation’s final auditions.

The Guardian

Scent of Memory: smell and classical music prove an intoxicating combination

In the Australian Art Quartet’s experimental new project, the group taps into a wider movement: bringing the sense of smell to performance

Two tribes: how the theatre and music scenes are mixing it up

Rachel Mars, Matt Regan and Nwando Ebizie are among a new wave of artists moving freely between two worlds to create shows that are not quite gig and not quite drama but somewhere in between

Gramophone

17-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason signs to Decca

Decca Classics has signed 17-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the winner of this year’s BBC Young Musician 2016. The deal will not only see the label making recordings with him, but also offer what it describes as ‘long-term support’ to him through his studies.

The Times

Leonard Cohen dies aged 82

Leonard Cohen, the Canadian poet and songwriter whose devastating confessional writing, wry humour and ear for melody turned him into one of the most enduring and unlikely rock stars of his generation, has died aged 82.

Slipped Disc

Homeless in Berlin: Neighbours force US concert pianist out of his home

The pianist Soheil Nasseri has been given 13 days to leave his apartment after noise complaints from neighbours.

The Telegraph

Soweto Kinch interview: ‘There were so many people making money out of Amy Winehouse dying’

On the eve of the London Jazz Festival, the saxophonist and Radio 3 presenter Soweto Kinch talks about exploitation in the recording industry and how music can be a great leveller

IOL

Why Montreux is so much more than all that jazz

For the past 50 summers, music lovers have flocked to the banks of Lake Geneva to take in the Montreux Jazz Festival.

ArtsProfessional

Dancing with the stars

Can you teach astrophysics through dance? Academics and dancers in Manchester have been giving it a go. And tackling gender inequalities to boot, says Deb Ashby.

A bid for a cultural future

Coventry’s two universities are a crucial component of its bid for UK City of Culture 2021. Geoff Willcocks explains how they are working with the cultural sector.

Klassik.com

Millionen-Förderung für sechs deutsche Orchester

Die Förderung findet im Rahmen des Programms “Exzellente Orchesterlandschaft Deutschland” statt. Bei den geförderten Orchestern handelt es sich um die Bochumer, Hamburger und Münchner Symphoniker, die Stuttgarter Philharmoniker sowie die Jenaer und die Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie.

Musik Heute

SWR Symphonieorchester auf erster Auslandstournee

Vom 14. bis 18. November bereisen die Musiker Spanien unter der Leitung von Christoph Eschenbach. Das Orchester ist aus der Fusion des Sinfonieorchesters Baden-Baden und Freiburg (SO) und des Radio-Sinfonieorchesters Stuttgart (RSO) entstanden. Der SWR will durch die Verschmelzung jährlich fünf Millionen Euro einsparen.

Salzburger Festspiele 2017 mit fünf Opernpremieren

Der neue Salzburger Festspielintendant Markus Hinterhäuser präsentiert in seiner ersten Saison fünf Opern-Neuinszenierungen, darunter drei Werke des 20. Jahrhunderts. Gerade in diesen politisch turbulenten Zeiten seien bestimmte Opern besonders geeignet, “Strategien der Macht” offenzulegen.

Twitter

Classical Music @ClassicalMusic_ Copenhagen Phil is reinventing the model of a civic symphony orchestra – in our November edition! http://ow.ly/8qF6305AWaE

CMUSE.org @cmuseorg How to sum up a #symphony by #Beethoven in one #tweethttps://t.co/I060x26clN

The Violin Channel @violinchannel ow.ly/7bWp3063ucV Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra Promotes New 2nd Concertmaster

wildkat-pr-australian-qrt-quartet-aaq

Photo: AAQ

(Written on November 11, 2016 )

Classical News

In today’s classical news, Paul Lewis and Adam Gatehouse, joint Artistic Directors of Leeds International Piano Competition, talk about the reinvention of the competition. David Teie, an US composer and cellist, released Music For Cats after years of research. Also, Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra launched the “Classical Connections” program to study cognitive benefits of classical music.

The Guardian

Paul Lewis: how we’re transforming ‘the Leeds’ to nurture tomorrow’s pianists

The Leeds piano competition is being given a radical, creative reboot. Paul Lewis, one of its new directors – alongside Adam Gatehouse – explains the plan.

Today Online

Album for cats tops classical music charts

David Teie, an US composer and cellist, released Music For Cats after years of research.

Broadway World

Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra Launches Program to Study Cognitive Benefits of Classical Music

The Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra (SBCO) has launched “Classical Connections,” an innovative program to study the therapeutic benefits of classical music for individuals suffering cognitive or neurological impairment.

Classical Music Magazine

RSNO Composers’ Hub announces 2016/17 intake

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra has announced the second intake for its Composers’ Hub scheme.

Help Musicians UK announces latest career development grants

Help Musicians UK has announced the latest recipients of its career development bursaries.

Voice 2.0 – Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival 2017

The three-day festival, which will take place 24-26 February 2017 at Plymouth University, will showcase new technologies and novel approaches to composition, performance and participation in music under the theme VOICE 2.0.

Washington Post

Russian city cancels ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ after protest

A theater in Omsk, one of Russia’s largest cities has cancelled a planned performance of the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” following protests by an organization of conservative Orthodox Christians. Local group “Family, Love, and Fatherland” filed a complaint that the musical mocked religious faith.

24-Year-Old Conductor Makes History at Broadway

Madeline Smith made her Broadway debut October 14 conducting the Broadway production of Waitress. At age 24 she is believed to be the youngest woman to conduct in a Broadway pit.

Der Tagesspiegel

Iván Fischer verlässt das Konzerthaus nach 2018

Iván Fischer, Chefdirigent des Konzerthausorchesters Berlin, wird seinen Vertrag nicht über 2018 hinaus verlängern – zum Bedauern seiner Musiker. Mit neuen Formaten und spannenden Ideen konnte Iván Fischer das Konzerthausorchester profilieren.

Codex Flores

Heidelberger Frühling zeichnet einen Hotelier aus

Klaus Lauer, Gründer und Leiter der Römerbad Musiktage und Intendant der Badenweiler Musiktage, erhält den mit 10.000 Euro dotierten Musikpreis des Heidelberger Frühling 2017. Das Musikfestival vergibt die Auszeichnung jährlich an Persönlichkeiten, die sich «substanziell und nachhaltig für die Vermittlung von klassischer Musik einsetzen».

Musik Heute

Yuja Wang wird Musical Americas “Künstlerin des Jahres”

Die chinesische Pianistin Yuja Wang ist von “Musical America” zur Künstlerin des Jahres 2017 ernannt worden. Die Karriere der 29-Jährigen übersteige die jedes anderen Pianisten in der heutigen Öffentlichkeit.

Twitter

Classical Music @ClassicalMusic_ .@PRSFoundation announces New Music Biennial 2017 composer residencies & Minute of Listening

The Royal Opera @TheRoyalOpera How the musical tide turned against Shostakovich: http://www.roh.org.uk/news/knocked-b… #ROHnose

Classic FM @ClassicFM This clip of a Liverpool NHS Emergency Medical Technician casually belting out some opera is going viral: https://t.co/xVhfKz9ubX

wildkat-pr-leeds-piano-competition-2015

Photo: Leeds International Piano Competition

(Written on October 19, 2016 )

Classical News

In today’s news, Help Musicians UK is boosting opportunities for young professional musicians, the death of a musician who caught an infection from his bagpipes has highlighted the dangers lurking inside musical instruments, and Simon & Sue Ruddick have donated £125,000 to improve ladies’ loos in British theatres. Also, 15 musicians are gathering at an active volcanic crater to play for 10½ hours.

Music Week

Help Musicians UK boosting opportunities for young pro musicians

Help Musicians UK is looking to increase opportunities for young professional musicians by way of its new Career Development Bursaries.

New Scientist

Deadly bagpipe infection is health warning to all wind musicians

Musicians beware: clean your instruments. The death of a musician who caught an infection from his bagpipes has highlighted the dangers lurking inside musical instruments.

The Guardian

Grandstand, Countdown, Ski Sunday: the unsung heroes behind TV’s greatest tunes

They’ve written some of the most iconic tracks of the last 50 years. Yet you’ve probably never heard of them. We met the legends of ‘library’ music

The Telegraph

Meet the couple on a mission to improve ladies’ loos in British theatres

Simon and Sue Ruddick have donated £125,000 to be spent on improving toilets in theatres up and down the country.

The New York Times

15 Musicians Spent the Night in an Active Volcano. Listen to What Happened.

Last Thursday, 15 musicians gathered at an active volcanic crater on a small island in the southern Aegean Sea for an experiment in improvisational site-specific performance. Lit by a glowing August full moon, they played for 10½ hours, asked only to take inspiration from their surroundings.

Aftenposten

Nysgjerrig på kammermusikk? Vår ekspert gir deg sine heteste tips til Oslo kammermusikkfestival!

De neste dagene myldrer det av arrangementer under Oslo kammermusikkfestival. Astrid Kvalbein gir deg oversikt over forestillingene du må få med deg.

nmz

hmt Rostock bildet mehr Musiklehrer aus – Vereinbarung unterzeichnet

Die Hochschule für Musik und Theater Rostock (hmt) wird künftig mehr Lehrer für das Schulfach Musik ausbilden. Darauf haben sich Hochschule und Bildungsministerium in einer Teilzielvereinbarung verständigt.

klassik.com

Rheingau Musik Festival: Förderpreis für Geiger Marc Bouchkov

Der belgische Geiger Marc Bouchkov hat den mit 15.000 Euro dotierten Förderpreis des Rheingau Musik Festivals erhalten. Bouchkov hat den Preis am gestrigen Montag im Rahmen eines Konzerts auf Schloss Johannisberg entgegengenommen.

Die Zeit

Jazzmusiker Toots Thielemans ist tot

Er spielte mit Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra oder Billy Joel und bewies seine Virtuosität mit der Mundharmonika auch für die “Sesamstraße”. Der belgische Jazzmusiker, Mundharmonikaspieler und Komponist Toots Thielemans ist gestorben.

Twitter

Top Classical News @topcmnews Complete Mahler symphony score to be auctioned for first time

BBC Radio 3 @BBCRadio3 ‘I was in the Bahraini Children’s Recorder Orchestra’ – Sally Phillips on

Classical Music News @CIassicalMusic Dallas Symphony violinist is selling her $1m Guarnerius

23VOLCANO-superJumbo-v2

“634 Minutes Inside a Volcano” was an improvisational site-specific performance on the Greek island Nisyros. Credit: Pinelopi Gerasimou

(Written on August 23, 2016 )

Classical News

In today’s news, Help Musicians UK launches Hearing Health Scheme, EUBO responds to ‘Brexit’ vote, and Classic FM’s new weekend line-up results in impressive increase in listeners. Also, Dubai’s first opera theatre opens in August, and cellist Daniel Hass wins 2016 Michael Measures Prize.

Classical Music Magazine

Help Musicians UK launches Hearing Health Scheme

Help Musicians UK has created a Musicians Hearing Health Scheme in partnership with Musicians Hearing Services and the Musicians’ Union.

EUBO responds to ‘Brexit’ vote

The European Baroque Orchestra, which for over 30 years has provided specialist orchestral training to postgraduate students of historically-informed performance from all over the European Union, has issued a statement following the UK’s EU referendum.

BBC Music Magazine

BBC Radio 3 celebrates its highest audience in five years

Figures released today have shown an increase in the number of people listening to Radio 3, with the station now reaching 2.2 million people. This is Radio 3’s highest audience reach for five years and the highest ever figure in the second quarter of a year.

Classic FM

Classic FM’s new weekend line-up results in impressive increase in listeners

Latest listening figures show that more people are tuning in to Classic FM at the weekends, and for longer.

The Jakarta Post

Dubai’s first opera theater to open in August

Dubai’s first performing arts theater is slated to officially open on Aug. 31 with a performance by legendary Spanish tenor Placido Domingo, known as “the King of Opera”.

The Strad

Cellist Daniel Hass wins 2016 Michael Measures Prize, worth $25,000

Daniel Hass has been awarded the 2016 Michael Measures Prize, worth $25,000. A collaboration between the Canada Council for the Arts and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, the accolade recognises promising talent in young Canadian classical musicians.

British Airways denies cello entry to the cabin ‘because it doesn’t have a visa’, claims musician

A cellist was told she needed a USA ESTA visa for her instrument and would have to pay over $4,000 to re-book her flights

Aftenposten

Jazz uten sponsorer

I år feirer Oslo Jazzfestival 30 år med et musikalsk program bredere enn noen gang før. Festivalen er helt avhengig av billettsalg og tilskudd for å leve videre.

nmz

Ruhrtriennale stellt europäische Werte auf den Prüfstand

Das experimentelle Theater- und Musikfestival Ruhrtriennale wird dieses Jahr politisch. Wir können das Nachdenken über unsere Gesellschaft nicht nur den Politikern überlassen’, sagt Intendant Johan Simons.

Klassik heute

Treffpunkt für junge Künstler mit großer Zukunft: Davos Festival 2016 beginnt

Am 6. August ist es wieder soweit: Dann beginnt das Davos Festival 2016. 50 Konzerte mit 80 jungen Musikern aus über 20 Ländern werden bis zum 20. August 2016 das Naturparadies Davos in eine Art künstlerisches Familientreffen verwandeln.

Musik heute

Dresdner Kulturpalast soll mit breitem Angebot Kosten einspielen

Mit einem erweiterten Angebot soll der Dresdner Kulturpalast nach seinem Umbau Ende April 2017 pünktlich eröffnet werden. Neben Konzerten der Dresdner Philharmonie werde dort künftig ein Genremix von Jazz bis Weltmusik sowie Lesungen geboten.

Twitter

Top Classical News @topcmnewsVibrant music director of three US orchestras dies, aged 51

Classical Music News @CIassicalMusic Vibrant music director of three US orchestras dies, aged 51

klassik.com @klassikcom Steigert Musizieren und Musikhören in der Gruppe die Lebenszufriedenheit?

DanielHaas

Cellist Daniel Hass. Photograph: Classical Music Magazine.

(Written on August 4, 2016 )

Classical News

In today’s news, Martyn Jackson is appointed first violin of the Allegri Quartet and Universal Music Group takes the first steps towards becoming a theatre maker. Also, Chetham’s School of Music appoints Alun Jones as it’s new head and Steven Isserlis discusses the complicated genius of Schumann

The Strad

Martyn Jackson named new Allegri Quartet first violinist

Martyn Jackson, former violinist with the Cavaleri Quartet, has been appointed first violin of the Allegri Quartet, replacing Ofer Falk

International Arts Manager

UMG takes steps to become theatre producer

Giant music label Universal Music Group (UMG) has taken its first steps towards becoming a theatre maker

Classical Music Magazine

Chetham’s appoints new head

Chetham’s School of Music has appointed Alun Jones as its new head

Gramophone

The complicated musical genius of Robert Schumann, by Steven Isserlis

Schumann remains one of the most misunderstood of all composers. Cellist and Schumann devotee Steven Isserlis peers behind the myths

Die Welt

CD-Krise? Welche CD-Krise?

Der britische Dirigent Antonio Pappano macht Musik auf allen Kanälen. Er erschrickt über die eigene virtuelle Überpräsenz. Ein Gespräch über fleißige Sänger und Oper als globales Kinoevent

Deutschlandradio Kultur

Arbeiterliedgut als Kulturelles Erbe

Die Lieder der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung stehen für eine politische und soziale Volkskultur. Eine Initiative aus Nordrhein-Westfalen hat sich der Bewahrung der Lied- und Singtradition der Arbeiterbewegung verschrieben.

nmz

Schostakowitsch-Preis geht an Dirigenten Gennadi Roszhdestvensky

Der russische Dirigent Gennadi Roszhdestvensky (84) bekommt den Preis der Internationalen Schostakowitsch Tage Gohrisch

Le Figaro

Pierre Boulez : ses obsèques auront lieu jeudi à Paris

Une cérémonie se déroulera le 14 janvier en l’église Saint-Sulpice pour rendre un ultime hommage à celui qui était bien plus qu’un compositeur et un chef d’orchestre

Twitter

Journalism.co.uk @journalismnews  As part of our new video series, we explore the responsibilities of a radio reporter. WATCH: https://www.journalism.co.uk/news/how-to-become-a-radio-reporter/s2/a599815/

BBC Music Magazine@MusicMagazine …and, finally, this issue includes a reader survey about the mag, so you can tell us just how lovely/awful we are. #bbcmusicfebissue

British Council Arts@BritishArts  Watch this film to find out more about #CreativeEurope & the international projects it supports feat. @LIFTfestival: http://ow.ly/WGYLk

Martyn Jackson, new Allegri Quartet first violinist/ The Strad

Martyn Jackson, new Allegri Quartet first violinist/ The Strad

(Written on January 13, 2016 )

At this time of year, music is all around us. Choirs sing Handel’s Messiah along with a host of carols and even opera stars sing christmas hits. The theatre has its fair share of Christmas programming, classics such as A Christmas Carol are staged and the film Elf has become Elf the Musical. Operas most frequently performed around Christmas time include the romantic Eugene Onegin and ‘family’ operas such as The Magic Flute. These are not set at Christmas time, nor do they have a Christmas theme; there is however a selection of operas with a Christmas theme, here are some of them….

The Long Christmas Dinner, Paul Hindemith

A one act opera, it spans nine decades, showing the lives of several generations of the Bayard family and some of their Christmas dinners.

Cherevichki, Tchaikovsky (The Tsarina’s Slippers)

Cherevichki is based on the story Christmas Eve, which is part of a collection called Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka, by Nikolai Gogol.

The story is set at Christmas time in the deep Ukranian winter. The opera includes village girls singing christmas carols, a snow storm in the first act and act four opens on Christmas morning. The ending is cheerful, as a marriage is celebrated.

La Bohème

The first two acts are set on Christmas Eve. The scenery sums up Christmas time, with a cold, wintery, bustling atmosphere and an adorable children’s chorus.

You can see La Bohème this month at the Deutsche Oper Berlin.

Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel has been associated with Christmas since its earliest performances, and today it is still most often performed at Christmas time. It was first performed on 23rd December 1893 and the first complete Metropolitan Opera radio broadcast of the opera was on Christmas Day in 1931.

Hansel and Gretel is showing this month at the Vienna Volksoper.

Amahl and the Night Visitors, Gian Carlo Menotti

The composer recaptures his Italian childhood at Christmas time. Instead of Father Christmas delivering his presents, they were brought to him by three Kings.

The opera tells the tale of three Kings, who visit a poor boy and his mother. The mother attempts to steal their treasure; when the kings realise how poor she is, they urge her to keep it. The boy wants to give the Kings a present but all he has to give is his crutch, when he does so, his leg is instantly healed and he goes with Kings to see baby Jesus.

Becoming Santa Claus, Mark Adamo

Set in an Elven kingdom in the Far North, the story begins with preparations for Prince Claus’ 13th birthday. His three uncles, who happen to be the three kings of the Christmas story, send word that they’ve been diverted by a star to a mysterious birth in Bethlehem.

Claus hears that they plan to present symbolic gifts to the child, he fills his sleigh with toys to take to the baby. They arrive too late, as the family has already gone on.

It received its world premiere at the Winspear Opera House this month!

 

(Written on December 10, 2015 )

Italy, the country where opera was born around 1600, is home to more than 800 opera houses, many of which have been neglected. A combination of bad management and budget cuts under the Berlusconi government meant that opera houses were severely underfunded, resulting in musicians’ salaries being cut. In some cases, musicians weren’t paid for months on end; many protested and went on strike. By 2013, spending on Italy’s cultural heritage had dropped from €165 million in 2008 to €75 million.

Protests against cuts in Italy's culture budget outside La Scala, Milan in December 2010

Protests against cuts in Italy’s culture budget outside La Scala, Milan in December 2010

Italian opera houses have always relied on state and regional grants, making them more dependent on the state than their counterparts in the UK, which benefit from more private investment. This is however not the case for La Scala in Milan, or Il Teatro Lirico in Turin, as in larger Italian cities, opera houses tend to receive more corporate sponsorship. Opera in smaller cities, such as Florence, has therefore been affected most severely by the cuts in government funding.

The 2013 Italian opera crisis was exasberated by the  financial crisis, and only Milan’s La Scala, Teatro Regio, Turin and La Fenice, Venice were able to pay their bills on time. As a result opera became even less mainstream in the country of it’s birth.

So, how has Italy attempted to solve this crisis? Opera houses are now putting on more modern productions and technology, and social media is being used to show behind the scenes production, via live blogs. La Scala leads the way with translation screens in seats for non Italian speakers, in an attempt to make the art form more accessible.

In May, La Scala premiered ‘CO2’, a contemporary opera which aims to make us acknowledge our responsibility for the planet. It nicely coincided with Expo- Milan 2015, the theme of which was ‘feeding the planet, energy for life’. The opera featured quick scene changes and videos. It was well reviewed.

On a smaller scale, a crowd-funding campaign called ‘adopt a theatre’ has been established by a group of  European singers, to raise money to help bring Italy’s opera houses back to life. So far, the campaign has has resulted in residents of Bevagna, Perugia donating 8,000 to relaunch the Francesco Torti opera theatre. The campaign is now being exported around the country.

The stunning Teatro Francesco Torti in Perugia, saved by the 'adopt a theatre' campaign is launching three new operas.

The stunning Teatro Francesco Torti in Perugia, saved by the ‘adopt a theatre’ campaign is launching three new operas.

Further measures being taken to increase revenues involve opera houses sharing their stages with cinemas and dancers. La Fenice in Venice is adapting its programme to suit the tastes of the huge numbers of tourists who visit the city.

With minimal government support, opera houses in Italy have taken steps to save themselves from collapse, management is being reorganised and as in the UK, modern audiences are being targeted. Opera in Italy may well flourish again, thanks to innovative ideas and initiatives being taken, however these are only first steps, and funding is still short. Perhaps the future of opera houses, particularly those in smaller cities, is not secure just yet.

 

(Written on November 4, 2015 )

Here at WildKat PR we are delighted to introduce our latest client, Isobel Waller-Bridge.

As an upcoming British composer for film, television and theatre, Isobel’s career has been widespread, with productions in the West End and New York, as well as the Royal National Theatre, Trafalgar Studios, and many other acclaimed venues. The success of Isobel’s diverse repertoire has been widely acknowledged; The Scotsman praised Isobel’s ‘Eikhah’, writing that it revealed a ‘mature, distinctive voice’ and demonstrated ‘an ability beyond her years’. Isobel has already received high praise from critics across the globe and has been awarded a multitude of awards, most notably Winner of Best Composer, Underwire Film Festival 2014 and Winner of Best Sound Designer, Off West End Theatre Awards 2015.

Is Blog 2

Isobel’s recent achievements include her scoring of The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Hecuba, in which she captured the story’s violence, womanhood and bravery. Performance are on now until 17 October. You can read an interview with Isobel about the work here. Other highlights include the Iskra Quartet’s performance of Isobel’s music at Union Chapel on 24 October 2015.

Amongst Isobel’s exciting upcoming events, The World Machine – part of this year’s Lumiere Festival – is a must see. Isobel will team up with world-renowned cosmologist Professor Carlos Frenk and sound designer John del’Nero for a unique performance at Durham’s beautiful Cathedral.

Make sure you check out Isobel’s Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with her latest news.

Is Blog 1

(Written on September 29, 2015 )