Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Scandinavia Takes Center Stage in May’s Opera News

May Issue Includes Annual Summer Festivals Preview; and Opera News and Frommer’s Announce “Top Ten Destinations for Opera Lovers”

Featuring Interviews with Opera Company Directors and Visits to Opera Houses

It’s time to look toward to summer opera festivals, and what’s going on in Scandinavia’s active opera world takes center stage in the May 2009 issue of Opera News.

Birgitta Svendén, a busy mezzo-turned-opera-impresario, runs the Swedish Royal Opera, the country’s largest opera company. At the Met she was part of Otto Schenk’s “Ring” cycle onstage, on recordings, and on DVD. This month she is Opera News’s cover story, interviewed by Sofia Nyblom. Also featured this month is Sweden’s “second” opera company, Malmö Opera – separated from Copenhagen by a 5-mile bridge, Malmö is on the narrow strait between southern Sweden and Denmark.

Although very small, Sweden ’s beloved Drottningholm Opera – also in Stockholm – is far from being the least valued of Sweden ’s opera houses. Not only was it named Sweden’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was also chosen as one of the “top ten destinations for opera lovers” in the collaboration between Opera News and the world-famous travel book publisher, Frommer’s. The publisher asked the editors of Opera News to come up with the top ten destinations that should be included on every opera lover’s itinerary this year – and in time for the May issue’s survey of summer festivals. Opera News editor-in-chief F. Paul Driscoll was the lucky man who visited the tiny jewel of 18th-century theater design to write this month’s article.

Denmark and Norway both have spectacular new opera houses, and Opera News visits both. Matthew Gurewitsch interviews Kasper Holten, artistic director of the Royal Danish Theatre since 2000, when he was still in his 20s. He has staged more than 50 operas, musicals, and plays in Europe and the U.S. , and between 2003 and 2006 directed the first integral production of Wagner’s “Ring” at the Royal Danish Theatre in almost a century; it’s now available on DVD. Oslo ’s state-of-the-art house is even newer than Copenhagen’s, and Andrew Ferren takes Opera News readers on an exploration of its wonders.

Scandinavia has sent a disproportionate share of fine singers onto the world’s stages, especially in the Wagner Fach. Ira Siff writes about four singers who were part of a golden age of Wagner singing at the Met, and, in a companion article, Ingrid Gäfvert applauds seven young Scandinavian singers on the rise. Elsewhere in the magazine, Steven Blier – pianist, vocal coach, and co-artistic director of the New York Festival of Song – succumbs to the beauties of Scandinavian song).

In addition to the many reviews of performances, recordings, videos, books, and more, the May issue of Opera News sports an article by Philip Kennicott that poses the non-Scandinavian conundrum: why did famed opera conductor Gustav Mahler never compose an opera of his own? And Mr. Kennicott even offers some answers.

Visitors to www.OperaNews.com can listen in to an audio survey featuring recorded highlights by the Scandinavian singers who lit up the Met’s Wagner wing in the 1930s. There are always additional features at the Opera News website – many of them available exclusively to subscribers and Guild members.

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