Following in Dante’s footsteps at the Ravenna Festival

On Dante's Trail(Financial Times) — The crowd dances in front of Dante Alighieri’s tomb. We have arrived at the final destination after almost 50km of hiking through the Apennines to Ravenna, where the poet spent his last years after being exiled from Florence. In Italian we sing “Love that moves the sun”, from the final lines of the Divine Comedy, to an ensemble including accordion, guitar, Italian bagpipe and a chorus of bells. The maestro of the group, Ambrogio Sparagna, has set passages from the poem to songs in an ancient folkloric style.

The 700th anniversary of Dante’s death is omnipresent this year in Italy, from museum exhibitions to the Ravenna Festival, which from June 2 to July 31 dedicated new commissions, theatre performances, an installation and more to the founding father of Italian literature. The four-day trekking concert Carovana Creativa sul Cammino di Dante (Creative Caravan Along Dante’s Way) emerged in collaboration with the touring company Trail Romagna as an homage combining music, poetry readings, nature walks and culinary experiences. […]

American Opera on Broadway

(2021 Virtual Stagestruck Conference) — In May, Rebecca presented at the fourth biennial Stagestruck! Conference, hosted by the Great American Songbook Foundation. Her lecture explores to what extent the genre of Broadway Opera, as coined by Kurt Weill, shaped the so-called Golden Age of Musical Theater. […]

Crashkurs Oper

Crashkurs Oper(üben & musizieren) — Die Oper an ein möglichst breites Publikum heranzuführen, wird immer mehr zu einem zentralen Anliegen des Geschäfts: Live-Streams, Vermittlungsprogramme oder verlockende Blicke hinter die Kulissen sollen die Schwelle zu dieser hochkomplexen Kunstform niedriger machen. Denn um eine Opernvorstellung in all ihren Dimensionen schätzen zu können, ist es gut, sich nicht nur mit der Handlung, sondern auch mit dem historischen Hintergrund, dem musikalischen Aufbau und idealerweise dem Entstehungsprozess auseinanderzusetzen. […]

(Book review: Solfaghari, Jasmin, Crashkurs Oper Geschichte – Komponisten – Werke – Spielstätten

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(Symphony Magazine) — Performing from digital sheet music is no rarity in today’s world, at least for some soloists and chamber musicians. But orchestras are another matter: Coordinating within sections of musicians and across the whole ensemble is a complex process that has traditionally been powered by human dialogue, pencil, and paper.

At the same time, the potential advantages to e-scores are numerous, so institutions are grappling with how to make the transition in a non-disruptive manner for musicians, librarians, and administration alike. As more orchestras have embraced tech due to the pandemic with streaming concerts, enhanced digital presences, and contactless ticketing, e-scores may be on the rise.  […]

Jumping into E-scores

How Operas are Going Green

Operas go Green

(New York Times) — The coronavirus
pandemic has challenged day-to-day norms in the opera industry. But while addressing those challenges, some houses have found new ways to tackle another crisis with potentially broader implications: climate change.

One of them is La Scala, in Milan, which will install solar panels on the roof of its new office tower in December 2022 while further digitizing operations to cut back on an estimated 10 tons of paper per year. The house has reduced carbon emissions by over 630 tons since 2010 through a partnership with the energy company Edison, which has been illuminating the theater since 1883 and now provides LED bulbs and smart lighting.

Those initiatives are part of a growing movement across the music industry. The Sydney Opera in Australia has been a front-runner internationally, having already achieved its aim of becoming carbon-neutral three years ago and having built an artificial reef alongside the house’s sea wall in 2019 (where eight new marine species have since been identified).  […]


(InsideOut Classical) — In January, Rebecca co-launched a podcast exploring stories behind classical music and media. For our first episode, the mandolinist Avi Avital spoke at his Berlin apartment about profiting from the time under lockdown while also reflecting on how his career built up to his latest album on Deutsche Grammophon. Upcoming installments will feature conversations with artists, managers, presenters, producers and other experts. […]

InsideOut Classical

Musical Gems From Vienna’s ‘Golden Hall’

Celebrating 150 years at the Musikverein

(New York Times) —  When the Vienna Philharmonic resumed concerts at the Musikverein in June, after shutting down for three months, it emerged from its longest period of silence in history.

Even near the end of World War II, the orchestra returned to the stage within a month of Austria’s liberation by Soviet troops in April 1945 — albeit to another hall, the Wiener Konzerthaus. The Musikverein, which had been slightly damaged by bombing, reopened that September.

With surprisingly few interruptions over the past 150 years, it is in the Great or “Golden Hall” that the Philharmonic has made history, whether performing Johann Strauss or John Williams. Here are some highlights.  […]

Changing the Channels

(Symphony Magazine) — When the corona virus brought activities to a lurching halt last March, classical music organizations adapted rapidly by investing in online content in order to stay engaged with audiences. At the same time, the deluge of free material on the internet raised questions about how to maintain a sustainable business model for live performance. But with most traditional fall seasons cancelled and health protocols evolving, digital channels remain a lifeline not just for sharing live or archived performances but creating opportunities for education and fundraising. For some industry experts, this is in fact an overdue development against the backdrop of a digital revolution that has been underway for over two decades.  […]

Going Digital

150000 Dollar für den Sieger

Competition in China

(das Orchester) — In China wächst die Leidenschaft für die klassische Musik so schnell, dass neue internationale Wettbewerbe die Ressourcen westlicher Institutionen überholen. Im November, ein halbes Jahr später als ursprünglich geplant, soll der China International Music Competition zum zweiten Mal in Peking stattfinden, diesmal als Wettbewerb für junge Geiger. Bei der ersten Ausgabe des CIMC im Mai 2019 wetteiferten Pianisten um die schwindelerregend hohen Siegprämien. […]

(A report about the first China International Music Competition in Beijing – available in print)

Christoph Waltz brings a hopeful realism to Theater an der Wien’s Fidelio

(Financial Times) — The coronavirus could not bring down Beethoven’s only opera. When performing arts activities came to a lurching halt last month, the Theater an der Wien transformed into a film studio to document its new Christoph Waltz production of Fidelio six days before it was to take the stage as part of celebrations for the composer’s 250th anniversary.

The broadcast, first aired on Austrian television, reached an international audience through the web platform on April 2. The opera about unjust imprisonment during the French Revolution premiered at this very theatre in 1805, although not to great success: Vienna was occupied by Napoleon’s troops, and the nobility — among them, Beethoven’s patrons — had fled the city. The conductor Manfred Honeck opts for the revised version which tightened the action and was unveiled the following year.

Waltz, an Oscar-winning actor in his third stint as opera director, creates a realist but understated dramatic tone that is well-suited to the camera. The imposing set of twisted, concrete stairwells designed by the German-American architects Barkow Leibinger has the potential to grow monotone but proves remarkably telegenic. […]

Vienna "Fidelio" triumphs over Lockdown