Bulletin Board : News, Tidbits, Musings, and more

New Conductor Bites Off More Than He Can Chew

Conducting the Oslo Philharmonic, Vasily Petrenko won excellent reviews for his season-opening performances, but comments the 37-year-old Russian later made to the newspaper Aftenpost disturbed many of its readers. He told the Oslo newspaper that orchestras “react better” to male conductors. He said that when women have families, it becomes difficult for them to maintain dedication to their careers. “Men,” he explained, “often have less sexual energy and can focus more on the music.” In Oslo, Petrenko’s comments were swiftly branded as outdated, shocking, offensive, and ridiculous.

As a result, Petrenko later told Aftenpost that what he said was meant to be a description of the situation in Russia. He said that he has the utmost respect for female conductors such as the extraordinarily talented conductor Marin Alsop and the famous Veronika Dudarova. “I’d encourage any girl to study conducting. How successful they turn out to be depends on their talent and their work, definitely not their gender.”


Gelb Reveals Vision for Future of Met

In an interview with Bloomberg.com, Peter Gelb, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, stated that “in order to avoid becoming a cultural dinosaur, opera must continue to attract an audience that will not only buy expensive tickets but also make generous donations.” It’s a tall order, but last year the Met raised $150 million in contributions. He added that he also hoped tax benefits for donors would continue at the current level.

He described Met performances as extravagant yet sophisticated entertainment, saying that it is possible for a work to achieve success on more than one level. He finds that opera can appeal to both experienced opera lovers and newcomers when the story is well presented. One of his examples was his company’s updated Rigoletto, which played to packed houses in New York and was seen in HD around the world. Gelb described it as high-minded entertainment for a 21st-century audience.


Joyce DiDonato Interviews Dame Janet Baker

Today’s star coloratura mezzo-soprano spends 30 minutes talking with the great mezzo of a few years ago who had just celebrated her 80th birthday. They speak of their interpretations of various roles, their exploration of characterization, and how they have dealt with the unexpected on stage. They agree on the necessity for a complete commitment to the text and the music, which allows the magic of the music to come through the singer to the audience.


City Opera Announces Kickstarter-Based Fundraising Appeal

The New York City Opera, which has been in financial distress for several years, needed to raise $7 million to complete its 2013-2014 season, according to the New York Times. The company reached out to its fans across the country though a grass-roots campaign that hoped to raise $1 million of that money using an online Kickstarter campaign.

If City Opera could not raise $7 million by the end of September, it would suspend the balance of the 2013-2014 season that was scheduled to follow the production of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s new opera Anna Nicole. The drive failed and City Opera announced on October 1 that it would file for bankruptcy and close its doors.


Music Lessons Have Wide-Ranging Intellectual Benefits

In a study described in the journal Behavioural Brain Research, Dr. Leonid I. Perlovsky of Harvard University led a team that studied 180 secondary school students in Quebec, Pacific Standard Magazine reports. The team found that among a group of high-performing students, those youngsters who studied music for five years had consistently higher grades in all subjects than those who dropped music after two years in favor of drama or painting.

Perlovsky and his team noted that each year the mean grades of the students that had chosen a music course in their curriculum were higher than those of the students that had not chosen music as an optional course.


Inflatable Concert Hall Provides Shelter and Reliable Acoustics

Ark Nova, designed by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki and British artist Anish Kapoor, will provide a temporary concert space in the region of Northeastern Japan affected by the major earthquake in March 2011, according to Eyesin.com. Ark Nova is an inflatable hall with the lightest possible shell, a modular skeleton, and a flexible layout. It was designed to have adequate acoustics for classical concerts. As a 500-seat temporary building, its first outing was in Matsushima, where it housed the Lucerne Festival Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado.


Mehta’s Concert in India Draws Protests

Zubin Mehta conducted the Bavarian State Orchestra in a program of music by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Haydn, and modern Indian composer Abhay Sopory in early September.

One would think that was a rather innocuous undertaking, but because it was held in Indian Kashmir, there were threats from terrorists. When German ambassador Michael Steiner proposed the concert, he never dreamed that it would draw opposition. There were protesters, however, and they were given permission to hold their own concert at the same time in a neighboring park.


Maria Nockin

Born in New York City to a British mother and a German father, Maria Nockin studied piano, violin, and voice. She worked at the Metropolitan Opera Guild while studying for her BM and MM degrees at Fordham University. She now lives in southern Arizona where she paints desert landscapes, translates from German for musical groups, and writes on classical singing for various publications.