The European and American reactions seem very different as a number of upcoming performances in the US were cancelled as soon as the accusations appeared. Not in Europe.Plácido Domingo received a standing ovation as he took to the stage at the Salzburg Festival on Sunday, a concerted show of support at his first performance since nine women accused him of sexual harassment in a report by The Associated Press.Domingo and his co-stars in a concert of Verdi’s tragic opera “Luisa Miller” all shared in 10 minutes of applause at the end of the show -- but a standing ovation at the start of the show was for the 78-year-old opera legend alone. The singers walked out single file and the applause intensified as Domingo, second to last, appeared from behind the curtain, growing to a crescendo until most of the house was on its feet.
The Vienna State Opera has issued a statement (via Slipped Disc) which seems quite fair:
"Austria is a state governed by the rule of law; the facts presented to date tell me that a) no charges or police investigation currently exist against him; b) the Los Angeles Opera, where unlike the Wiener Staatsoper he plays a role in the decision-making, has launched an investigation; c) the presumption of innocence applies; and d) we know of no allegations in our area of responsibility. Indeed, Plácido Domingo is valued both artistically and as a human being by all in this house. We shall therefore honour our existing contracts with Plácido Domingo,” explained Staatsoper director Dominique Meyer.
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We live in a therapeutic era: even the mental health of musicians can be farmed out to professional care. The Globe and Mail has an article: How this music boss is boosting his artists’ mental health.
A few years ago, Menno Versteeg saw a therapist for the first time. A 20-year veteran of the music industry, both as frontman for the soon-to-be disbanded indie-rock group Hollerado and as head honcho at Toronto’s Royal Mountain Records, Versteeg had long bought into the conceit of the tortured artist – that great art needs to be suffered for. Mental health be damned, fist fights, addiction and extreme anxiety were the price to pay for the right to earn a meagre living as a touring musician. “I could never afford any type of professional help,” he says with a shrug.
On the one hand this seems like a good idea. On the other hand, I'm not sure I have enough faith in the wisdom of mental health professionals to want them in charge of my neuroses.
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Here's a little addendum to the Salzburg trip from Slipped Disc: Salzburg Scores 97%, meaning that 97% of the tickets available were sold, a total of 270,584. That's a lot of concerts!
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I've adapted to a lot of new technology and welcomed some of it with enthusiasm and gratitude, but I just haven't gotten into music streaming apart from YouTube. Maybe I will reconsider after reading this update in the LA Times about classical streaming services:
In 2012, the Los Angeles Philharmonic won a bewildering Grammy for a performance of Brahms’ Fourth Symphony, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. It was bewildering because there was no way for the jury to know how terrific a performance it actually was. The recording was released exclusively on iTunes as an mp3 download with all its acoustic life drained out of it. There was so little information about the recording that if you listened on your iPod, you hardly knew what in the hell you were hearing.Seven long years later, this Brahms’ Fourth, newly offered as an Apple digital master (and available now on other services as well), finally has acquired the proper sonic attire to deserve its Grammy. We’ve entered a new era, a world we need to learn how to negotiate and wisely manage, given its promises and pitfalls. The rewards are wondrous. The dangers may be worse than you might imagine.
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This is a weird story: British conductor Daniel Harding is taking a year-long sabbatical to fly airplanes as a commercial pilot: Conductor Daniel Harding to take sabbatical to fly planes.
‘I am fascinated by the feeling of flying a plane,’ he continued. ‘In the spring I will join Air France as a co-pilot and in the 2020/21 season I will take a sabbatical as an orchestra conductor…to dedicate myself to flying.’
In February of this year, Harding announced his intention to step down as Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris at the end of this current season. He also serves as Conductor Laureate with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and as Music Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony.Is this a sign of the changing values of our time? Didn't people in the professions, doctors and lawyers, take a year off to play music in the old days?
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The New York Times has an article about the new Berlin Phil conductor, Kirill Petrenko: The Berlin Philharmonic’s Anti-Anti-Maestro.
I also noticed a number of nasty comments about him over at Slipped Disc. The whole NYTimes piece is worth reading.The Philharmonic is a self-governing orchestra. When its players first met in 2015 to elect a successor to Mr. Rattle — who had pushed the orchestra to modernize with ambitious outreach initiatives and daring programming — they initially failed to reach a consensus. (The most discussed candidates, at least in public, included Christian Thielemann and Andris Nelsons, but Mr. Petrenko, revered for his way with the core Central European Romantic repertoire, was always in the running.)The players met again a month later and elected Mr. Petrenko — who had only performed with them three times, but wowed them. A sour note was struck when some German press accounts, noting that Mr. Petrenko would be the first Jewish conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, were condemned for including anti-Semitic stereotypes.
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I have a Pogorelich story. A music critic friend of mine attended two back-to-back performances of Pogorelich playing the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Vancouver Symphony at the exposition in 1986. After the first performance one newspaper critic sniffed that the performance was just not romantic enough. So the next night, he played it in a completely opposite interpretation, very romantic. So there! People are complicated. Creative artists are really complicated. Read the whole article, because it is an interesting example of different ways you can approach music criticism.Controversy has seemed to follow pianist Ivo Pogorelich at every move, even from the beginning. In 1980, when the 22-year-old whiz kid from Yugoslavia failed to reach the final round of the International Chopin Competition, the revered pianist Martha Argerich, who declared him a "genius," stormed off the jury in protest. Naturally, the dustup helped launch his career. With a brooding pout, movie star looks and a high-powered record deal, Pogorelich was an instant celebrity. He told one journalist he could get a review just by cleaning the dust off his piano.But Pogorelich became polarizing. Blessed with a dazzling, seemingly effortless technique and a searching mind, the pianist routinely gave eccentric performances, pulling familiar music out of shape. In 2006, New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini closed a Pogorelich review by saying: "Here is an immense talent gone tragically astray. What went wrong?"
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For our envoi today, here is Plácido Domingo with "Nessun dorma" from Puccini's Turandot.
Incidentally, Joseph Kerman selects Turandot as a particular example of a bad opera in his book Opera as Drama. He doesn't like much else by Puccini either. Or Richard Strauss.