Opera Houses around the World Show Support for Humanitarian Crisis in Ukraine
In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis that has unfolded since, a number of opera companies around the world put on concerts in benefit of Ukraine. Leading the way was the Opernhaus Zürich, which presented a concert on March 11, 2022, featuring such artists as Thomas Hampson, Benjamin Bernheim, Rebeca Olvera, Lawrence Brownlee, George Petean, and members of the International Opera Studio.
That was followed by a benefit gala by the Deutsche Oper Berlin on March 13, featuring Maritina Tampakopoulos, Samuel Park, Mané Galoyan, Andrei Danilov, Valentyn Dytiuk, and Flurina Stucki. The Metropolitan Opera then presented a concert on March 14 that featured performances by Elza van den Heever, Jamie Barton, Piotr Beczała, and Ryan Speedo Green, and Lise Davidsen.
The Opéra National de Paris presented a similar gala on March 27 at the Palais Garnier with such artists as Liudmyla Monastyrska, John Daszak, Russell Braun, Marie-Andrée Bouchard-Lesieur, and Emanuela Pascu. Glyndebourne presented a benefit gala on April 3, followed by the Teatro alla Scala’s “Concert for Peace” showcase on April 4. Rossini’s “Stabat Mater” was performed for the occasion, with soloists including Rosa Feola, Juan Diego Flórez, and Alex Esposito. The Royal Opera House also presented a concert for Ukraine on April 15, featuring such artists as Yuriy Yurchuk, Pretty Yende, Freddie De Tommaso, Dymtro Popov.
Adolphus Hailstork’s A Knee on the Neck Gets Its World Premiere
The National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale, The Washington Chorus, and The Howard University Chorale joined forces to present the world premiere of Adolphus Hailstork’s A Knee on the Neck. The world premiere—which took place on March 26 and 28, 2022, at The Music Center in Strathmore and Capital One Hall—featured an all-star cast headlined by J’Nai Bridges, Norman Shankle, and Kenneth Overton. Piotr Gajewski conducted the performance. The event also featured a performance of Mozart’s Requiem with Janai Brugger as the soloist.
The work was composed as a tribute to George Floyd, whose murder in May 2020 by a police officer in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests. Hailstork said of his new work, “What can an artist do? I can speak on the issues and put them in my work. These are the tragedies and triumphs of a people who have been beaten up for 400 years. Does anyone speak for them? Who writes pieces that speak for the existence of African Americans in the United States? I’ll take on that job.”
Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall to Open in October 2022
Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall will reopen in October 2022, a year-and-a-half ahead of schedule. The project leaders also announced that they had raised the $550 million cost to cover the renovations and that the project has created over 6,000 jobs, many of which have gone to women and members of racial and ethnic minorities.
Among the major changes to the hall will be a decrease in seats from 2,738 to 2,200 to provide a more intimate feel and improved acoustics. The stage will also be moved up 25 feet to bring audiences closer to performers. Additionally, the hall’s lobbies have been reimagined, and the main lobby has been doubled in size to include a lounge, a bar, and a restaurant.
New York State Governor Kathy Hochul said, “Lincoln Center is a central piece of New York’s cultural heart and the new David Geffen Hall, complete with expanded public and community spaces, will make that heart beat even stronger. New York’s comeback is just getting started and this project is a crucial part of that comeback, creating jobs and giving New Yorkers and visitors from across the globe the opportunity to experience world-class entertainment in a state-of-the-art venue. I look forward to seeing this magnificent facility introduce the next generation to the joy of the arts.”
The Opera Society Honors Soprano Diana Soviero
The Opera Society hosted a luncheon to honor soprano Diana Soviero on March 19, 2022. The organization presented the famed soprano with the Dr. Arturo di Filippi Founder’s Award, which recognizes the outstanding individuals, who through their generosity and dedication, have contributed greatly to the success of the Florida Grand Opera in Broward and Dade Counties.
Soviero made her Metropolitan opera debut in 1986 in a production of Roméo et Juliette and would go on to over 100 performances with the company; her final performance would take place in 1997 in a production of Pagliacci. In addition to the Metropolitan Opera, Soviero has performed with such companies as the New York City Opera, Paris Opera, Royal Opera House, Teatro alla Scala, and Opernhaus Zürich.
Additionally, she is a renowned voice teacher who has worked with such artists as Kathryn Lewek, Christine Goerke, Michelle Bradley, and Jennifer Johnson Cano and is part of the faculty at Mannes School of Music. Soviero also served as co-artistic director of Florida Grand Opera’s Young Artist Program between 2016–2018.
Musicians Present Free the Sky in Front of Odessa Opera House
On March 12, 2022, the symphonic orchestra and choir of the Odessa Opera House joined forces to present a concert for peace in front of the opera house. The performance, entitled Free the Sky, featured the Ukrainian national anthem as well as the famed “Va, pensiero” from Verdi’s Nabucco. The showcase was conducted by Igor Chernetsky, the opera house’s music director.
In a Facebook post, the musicians noted that the event was intended to “support the call to Western countries and other countries of the world to close the sky over Ukraine from enemy planes, missiles, and bombs that daily destroy human lives.”
“It was this powerful piece of music that terrorized the enemy during the Second World War. So today the musicians of the Odessa Opera use[d it as] their musical weapon,” continued the post. “We believe we will be heard! After all, we are protecting our land. We want to live in our blooming land, and for that today we must fight for our future.”