Around The Classical Internet: July 8, 2011

  • Another link to Romantic Bohemia is gone: Czech violinist Josef Suk has died at age 81 after a long illness. He was Dvorak's great-grandson and the grandson of composer Josef Suk.
  • Canadian composer Malcolm Forsyth has passed away at age 74 after suffering from pancreatic cancer. Born in South Africa, he went on to win three Junos for classical composition.
  • Tempest of the week: Opera North in Bridlington, UK had canceled the production of Beached, an opera it had commissioned by composer Harvey Brough and librettist Lee Hall (who also wrote Billy Elliot).
  • Nearly 300 schoolchildren were enlisted to take part in Beached, but school officials withdrew their pupils, saying a gay character and some language in the libretto weren't appropriate.
  • Hall shot back with accusations of homophobia.
  • But now the show's back on, after one word has been excised. Lee is still threatening legal action against the local government council, one of whose members claimed Beached featured a pedophile character.
  • More from the world of opera: Daniel Barenboim's just signed on for 10 more years as music director of the Berlin Staatsoper.
  • Here's an architectural review of Guangzhou's new opera house, designed by Zaha Hadid: "The most alluring opera house built anywhere in the world in decades is in a generic new business district at the outer edge of this city, has no resident company and a second-rate program." (And beware the random pipework sticking out.)
  • The artistic director of Opera Australia isn't interested in having outsized singers on his stage. Says Lyndon Terracini: 'If you're seeing a couple making out and one of them is obese, who wants to watch that? 'It's obscene. You just think, 'Jeez, for Chrissakes, don't let the children see that.'"
  • BBC Music Magazine has been soliciting nominations via Twitter for the most boring classical music: check out #boringclassical.
  • Over at the Guardian, Tom Service takes that opportunity to rail against Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." "It's there like a viral infection over orchestral programs from Bournemouth to Berlin, its parade of promenades, gnomes, cloying folk-legends, chicken-legged spectral grotesques, racially dubious musical caricatures, and clanging great gates squatting behemoth-like in the world's concert halls."
  • New York City Opera planned to announce its programming plans for its very fraught 2011-12 season next Tuesday, but a couple of insiders leaked the repertoire and venues to the New York Times. (And former longtime general director Julius Rudel is outraged that he was asked to give his blessing to the company's current endeavors.)
  • And more than 120 opera singers and other stars have signed a letter protesting NYCO's Lincoln Center leave-taking. Among them: tenors Plácido Domingo and José Carreras, mezzo-sopranos Joyce DiDonato and Regina Resnik and composers Jake Heggie and Carlisle Floyd. (Soprano Catherine Malfitano and NYCO's former dramaturge Cori Ellison penned the letter.)
  • In the Wall Street Journal, Terry Teachout says that NYCO has already lasted past its natural lifetime.
  • The redoubtable opera blog Parterre has already posted an obituary for NYCO: "[The Times] spilled enough details about NYCO's 'next' season to make it bleeding obvious 2011-12 will also be the last."
  • Pianists Martha Argerich and Evgeny Kissin, violinist Gidon Kremer, cellist Mischa Maisky and composers Giya Kancheli and Arvo Part were among the artists who took part in a French concert this past Tuesday night in Strasbourg organized to draw attention to the plight of Russian political prisoners.
  • Perhaps all is not so well at the recently reunited Detroit Symphony Orchestra: "In the first six months of this year, six musicians have resigned, and two more have retired. Musicians who left, as well as others who remain, cite a pervasive lack of trust in management, uneasiness about the debt-ridden orchestra's future and anger at music director Leonard Slatkin."
  • Meanwhile, the Detroit players' former home, the Ford Auditorium, is being razed today. The hall was built for them in 1955, but they returned to Orchestra Hall in 1989. The Ford facility had been vacant since then.
  • Surprise, surprise, some good orchestral news: the Toronto Symphony says that 35% of its audience is under the age of 35, thanks in large part to its "Tsoundcheck" program, which offers $14 tickets to almost all of its season to 35-and-unders.
  • Ever dream of joining a professional orchestra as a section player? Taking a page from rock-and-rollers and major league sports teams, the Minnesota Orchestra has announced that it will be running a fantasy camp for up to 50 amateurs this September that will culminate in a full concert with the symphony.
  • Weird item of the week: the self-declared "waltz king" Andre Rieu recently premiered a new waltz written by ... Anthony Hopkins. Yes, that Anthony Hopkins.

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