Over a few days in early March, concert halls, opera houses and theaters went dark around the world in an attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Countless works of music, both new and old, could not be performed, among them the premiere of a symphonic piece by the American composer David Hertzberg. Hertzberg gave the piece the working title Madig, a German word that may translate to worm-eaten but has a range of meanings in colloquial usage.
BTHVN2020 exceeds its initial course, runs projects until September 2021
The celebrations in honour of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday will continue until September 2021. This was agreed on by the supervisory board of Beethoven Jubiläums GmbH at its meeting this Friday. This will allow the creative potential of BTHVN2020 to continue to unfold, despite the restrictions imposed by the COVID 19 pandemic.
You have to be forty-one at least, to make an impression as the dotty old woman on screen. That was Margaret Rutherford’s age when she began her film career. She said in a BBC television interview that she was puzzled why so many people found her films comic. Solving crime is a serious business, she added. Coming from her lips, we find that comic too.
For a singer whose career was cut short in the 1960s by illness, Canadian-American bass-baritone George London’s presence still looms large in the opera world. His magnificent voice can be heard on recordings, including a 1960 Tosca with Renata Tebaldi that for many remains a definitive version of the Puccini opera, but it is the work of The George London Foundation for Singers that is his true legacy. Each year the Foundation awards tens of thousands of dollars to young American and Canadian singers who are in the early stages of their careers.
Louis Lortie talks to Geoffrey Newman
There are few Canadian musicians who have exhibited such consistency, versatility and high standards in performance as Montreal-born pianist Louis Lortie.
Jonathan Biss and His Promethean struggle with Beethoven
The 250th anniversary of the birth of the irrepressible Ludwig van Beethoven late last year has unleashed ceaseless commemorative celebrations across the world’s concert halls and classical radio stations. It has also triggered a plethora of new recordings by some of the world’s greatest artists, not least the last of a nine-volume set of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas by the renowned Philadelphia-based pianist, teacher, musical thinker and writer, Jonathan Biss. He has dedicated many of his 39 years to interrogating the sonatas and has embarked on a punishing worldwide programme of Beethoven concerts and talks, including a series of seven recitals at London’s Wigmore Hall.
Late in 2019 Sardinian tenor Piero Pretti impressed many with his Met debut as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. Bachtrack said ‘He has a fine lyric Italianate sound with plenty of squillo and dead centre pitch. He strikes one as a very musical singer; he clearly knew the arc of his phrases and the entire role. Pinkerton is a hard part in which to impress and it will be interesting to hear him as other, more sympathetic leads.’
Ukrainian dramatic soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska had early success as a principal soloist with the Ukraine National Opera, as well as, singing at St. Peterburg’s Mikhailovsky Theatre. Important debuts followed in Berlin as Tosca (2010), at Covent Garden she sang Aida (2011) and in this same role she first appeared at the Met in 2012. She sang Abigaille opposite Plácido Domingo in Nabucco at Covent Garden in 2013 (Jim Pritchard described her voice as having ‘a great range of dynamics and colour but also the capability to sing a line softly when required’) and 2016. Liudmyla Monastyrska returns to Covent Garden as Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana in a production broadcast to cinemas on 21 April. Before that she makes an eagerly awaited return to La Scala in Milan as Leonora in Il trovatore in Alvis Hermanis’s production and conducted by Nicola Luisotti. In her answers to some questions from Seen and Heard International Liudmyla Monastyrska gives an insight into her background, training and the roles she sings.