Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Johan Botha as the Emperor in Die Frau ohne Schatten © ROH / Clive Barda 2014 Johan Botha (1965–2016) was one of the great dramatic tenors of his generation. After making his professional debut in Roodepoort in his native South Africa, Botha moved to Europe in 1990. Debuts followed with the Paris Opéra (1993), The Royal Opera (1995), Vienna State Opera (1996) and the Metropolitan Opera, New York (1997), establishing Botha as a leading figure on the international stage. Botha’s first role with The Royal Opera was Rodolfo in La bohème , singing across three casts with the role of Mimì shared between Angela Gheorghiu , Deborah Riedel and Amanda Thane , and conducted by Simone Young . He returned later in 1995 to sing Cavaradossi in Tosca , again conducted by Young and with Galina Gorchakova and Maria Ewing sharing the title role. He next returned in 2001 to sing the Emperor in Strauss ’s Die Frau ohne Schatten under Christoph von Dohnányi in a cast that also included Deborah Voigt as the Empress. The following year Botha returned for more Strauss, singing Apollo in two concert performances of Daphne with Alexandra von der Weth in the title role and conducted by Stefan Soltesz . In 2003 Botha sang Radames in Robert Wilson ’s new production of Aida , conducted by Antonio Pappano with Norma Fantini in the title role. Botha next returned to the Royal Opera House in 2009 to sing Calaf in Turandot opposite Jennifer Wilson in the title role, conducted by Nicola Luisotti . A few months later he was back to sing the title role in Lohengrin, conducted by Semyon Bychkov and with Edith Haller as Elsa. Botha’s final appearances with The Royal Opera were in new productions, again conducted by Bychkov. In 2010 Botha sang the title role in Tim Albery ’s new production of Tannhäuser , with a cast including Eva-Maria Westbroek as Elisabeth and Christian Gerhaher as Wolfram. Botha’s performances saw him acclaimed by The Telegraph as ‘that rare thing, a true Wagnerian tenor’ . His final role with The Royal Opera was singing the Emperor in Claus Guth ’s new production of Die Frau ohne Schatten. Botha was joined by a cast that included Emily Magee as the Empress, Johan Reuter as Barak and Elena Pankratova as Barak’s Wife, in what what The Independent called ‘an ideal cast’ . Beyond the Royal Opera House, Botha had a close association with the Vienna State Opera, where he was made a Kammersänger in 2004. His many roles with the Metropolitan Opera included the title roles in Don Carlo and Otello , Walther in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg , Canio in Pagliacci and Florestan in Fidelio. In his work Botha regularly collaborated with conductors including Claudio Abbado , Daniel Barenboim , Pierre Boulez , James Levine and Georg Solti . Kasper Holten , Director of The Royal Opera, paid tribute to Botha with the following words: ‘It is with great sadness we learn about the death of Johan Botha. Of course on this day we all think back to the many unforgettable moments this great singer gave us, most lately when he appeared with great success in Richard Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten at Covent Garden. The memory of this performance will always stay with us.’
One prize in each two-year cycle would be for Artistic Excellence; a second for Creative Innovation in the arts; and a third for Cultural Humanitarianism. Tripling the number of awards would help the Glenn Gould Prize meet its potential — “to become the world’s preeminent arts prize,” Brian Levine, the Gould foundation’s executive director, told the Star.
The beautiful opera singer Daniela Dessi died in Brescia on August 20. She was diagnosed with cancer and began treatment last month. Our hearts go out to her husband, the tenor Fabio Armiliato, and their family. Fabio messaged: ‘A short, horrible and incomprehensible illness has taken her away in these months. The greatest opera singer of the last 20 years has gone.’ Engaged by Claudio Abbado at La Scala in the early 1980s, she was quickly taken up by Muti, Mehta, Sinopoli and other leading music directors. James Levine brought her to the Met. She often appeared with her partner, Fabio Armiliato. The pair were singing Aida together in Berlin on the night in April 2011 when their friend Giuseppe Sinopoli collapsed and died in the pit. They never forgot the horror of that moment or the nearness of mortality.
The remarkable Russian pianist has signed a book contract with Orion publishers for a memoirs that he has written together with the St Petersburg writer, Marina Evreison Arshinova. The book, to be published in 2017, covers his early years and development in the Soviet Union, his debuts with Karajan, Giulini, Levine and other conductors, and his slowly-discovered love for the Yiddish language. Karajan’s daughter said Kissin’s debut was the only time she saw her father weep.
Stewart Pearce, who gave his entire working life to the Metropolitan Opera, has died after a brief illness. He was chief executive of the Met Opera Guild from 2010 to 2015. In his previous role, as assistant operations manager at the Met, he was helpful to many singers. Peter Gelb and James Levine have posted this notice: The Metropolitan Opera mourns the death of our dear friend and colleague Stewart Pearce, whose Met career spanned 39 years from 1976, when he began at the Metropolitan Opera Guild as an intern, to his retirement in 2015 as Managing Director of the Guild. From 1982 he worked for the Metropolitan Opera Association in various business-related capacities, and was Assistant Manager of the Met from 1997 to 2014. The wide scope of his experience with the company included finance and budgeting, marketing, fundraising, and operations management. Few administrators in the Met’s history have had such varied responsibilities, and Stewart’s knowledge of the Met and how it worked was second to none. He was tapped by succeeding general managers to tackle some of the company’s biggest administrative challenges, and he consistently carried out his tasks with efficiency, tact, precision, and an unflappable calm that earned him everyone’s admiration and affection. Stewart loved opera and loved the Met. He played one of the most important roles in the Met’s administration, perhaps invisible to the general public, but essential to making our company run smoothly. Stewart’s passing came much too soon, and his many friends and colleagues express their deepest condolences to his husband, Kevin, and to all those in and outside of the Opera House who will miss him dearly. Peter Gelb General Manager James Levine Music Director Emeritus
The Sony Classical label has drawn ink from Juan Duego Florez. It can now boast, with Kaufmann, Grigolo and Florez, to have the three hot males on the opera stage. Press release follows press pic. (New York / Berlin, June 20, 2016) Sony Classical is proud to announce a long-term exclusive contract with Juan Diego Flórez, one of today’s most prominent stars of the opera and concert stage. The tenor of choice for the world’s leading theatres in the bel canto repertoire and beyond, Juan Diego Flórez’s fluid, expressive singing and dazzling virtuosity have thrilled audiences and critics alike and earned him global acclaim. The Financial Times recently noted: “For a voice of high class and high Cs by the armful, Flórez is your man.” Born in 1973 into a musical family in Lima, Peru, the young singer studied at the National Conservatory of Music and with Peru’s Coro Nacional before winning a scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his deep love of opera was founded. Standing in for an indisposed colleague as Corradino in Rossini’s Matilde di Shabran in 1996 proved to be a turning point in what was to become a stellar career. After this triumph, Mr. Flórez was promptly offered his début at La Scala, Milan, under Riccardo Muti, and since then he has conquered all the world’s leading stages, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Royal Opera House in London, the Vienna Staatsoper, the Salzburg Festival, the Deutsche Oper in Berlin and the Zurich Opernhaus, to name but a few. He has worked with the best-known conductors of the day, including Riccardo Chailly, Gustavo Dudamel, Daniele Gatti, James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Antonio Pappano and many more. In 2007 Juan Diego Flórez made history at La Scala when he broke a 70-year-old taboo and gave the first encore in the theatre since 1933. The aria in question was “Ah! mes amis” from Donizetti’s La Fille du régiment, renowned for its nine high Cs. He repeated the feat a few months later, in 2008, at the Met, again after a number of years in which no encores had been heard, and in 2012 at the Opéra de Paris, where no encore had been heard since the theatre’s inauguration in 1989. Juan Diego Flórez has an extensive discography for which he has been honored with countless international awards. He is passionate about music education and through his foundations Sinfonía por el Perú and Friends of Juan Diego Flórez works to bring about social change through music both in his native country and beyond. Mr. Flórez is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. His first album for Sony Classical will be released in fall 2017. Mr. Flórez noted of his new contract with Sony Classical: “Recordings are such a different means of expression for an opera singer. Musically, they allow you to explore and try new and exciting things, such as new colours and ways of interpretation. Working in the studio has fascinated me for a long time and I am full of new ideas I want to realize with Sony. I look forward to working with its team to bring great recordings to music lovers around the world.” Bogdan Roscic, President of Sony Classical, said: “Seeing and hearing Juan Diego Flórez in full flight is one of the greatest experiences in today’s opera world. His personality, his immense musicality and the unmistakably individual sound of his voice have made him one of the few true superstars in the theatre but also beyond it. I look forward to working with him on adding exciting new recordings to what is already an outstanding discography.”