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Operatic Opportunities

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Categories: contemporary classical music, eclectic music

Summer is here and open-air opera is upon us – Glyndebourne, Garsington and W11 to name but a few, but let me cast back a little – nominations in the ‘Best new opera production’ category for the UK’s Olivier Awards were announced just before Easter this year and it’s interesting to observe that three of the four nominated works were ENO productions. One of the three, Caligula, was by a living composer – Boosey & Hawkes published, German composer, Detlev Glanert.  The fourth nomination, also by a living composer, was staged at The Barbican – Philip Glass’s, Einstein on the Beach.

It’s a little surprising that nothing was nominated from that other great London operatic institution, Covent Garden, particularly George Benjamin’s highly acclaimed new work, Written on Skin.  The Royal Opera House is devoting ever more resources to contemporary work and that may be down to the outlook of the current Director of Opera, Kasper Holten, who is reported as saying, “New work is not and should not be at the periphery of our programme, but right at the core of what and who we are.”  Bravo!

Casting back even earlier, at the beginning of this year ROH announced an impressive set of plans for 2013 to 2020 amounting to 15 new works in both the main house and the more experimental Linbury Studio.  Forth-coming productions will include in the near future, work by Australian, Ben Frost, and by British composers Julian Philips, Luke Bedford and Matthew Herbert.  Looking further ahead, there are new commissions for Mark-Anthony Turnage and Judith Weir (follow the link on Judith’s name for a tantalising taster of the ENO production of Judith’s Blond Eckbert). There is lots more on offer for composers from Denmark, Finland, Italy and Germany, too.

Not to be out-done, ENO also raised the curtain on its latest commission which was styled as an “enthralling multimedia ‘occult mystery’, combining live performance, music, 2D and 3D film.”  A collaboration with the Barbican, all performances of Sunken Garden by composer, director and film-maker Michel van der Aa take place there and it opened on the 12th April.

Opera has always been wonderfully eclectic, gloriously international and fiercely innovative.  Here’s hoping that we can add ‘boundlessly contemporary’ to the accolades.  A living composer did win that Olivier Award so that is a step in the right direction.

If you type ‘opera’ into the tutti searchbox, I hope you will be intrigued at what turns up – never the predictable!

Aah, I’ve just caught the final moments of a fiery Norfolk sunset from my studio window – you can see more of the moments I’ve managed to capture posted on the Music at tutti timeline on facebook.

Sarah Rodgers



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