Tag Archives | Opera Australia

Save Us From Any Further Opera Company Crises

Can you imagine telling internationally renowned theatre director, Peter Sellars, that he is wrong?  Well I am about to.  But read this first:


Forget the out-of-context number reporting.  It’s not salient to the real issue.  Sure, it’s bad that ENO’s income is down £6 million pounds year-on-year and that the previously reported ad nauseum financial fortunes of the opera company have been pretty dire for a long period. But that’s not the point.  This is: it’s not about classification Mr. Sellars, or whether or not you ascribe to the spurious notion that “There’s not one theatre or opera company that can sell out anything anymore.”  Actually lots of things ‘sell out’ but only when you create demand. To understand what drives demand in delivering entertainment, you have to ascribe to the theory of recursion – in this sense: the process of repeating success in a self-similar way. Which is why Mr. Sellars’ observation is so interesting – because his work is so successful on so many levels. If you have ever seen this luminary director’s Mozart opera productions, or his vision for György Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, you’ll know what I mean.

So to this news clipping. What is causing the problem with ENO – and any other number of opera companies around the world – whose efforts are desultory at best a lot of the time or, at worst, uninformed (and out of touch) with the changing face of media and entertainment?  It’s the people, of course, making the decisions.  They don’t use any meta-data analytics or other research tools to inform them about what audiences want (and DEMAND), they just make ‘artistic decisions’ based on ‘knowing’ what is right for their company or organisation.  THEY DON’T KNOW!  Ignorance is absolutely not a virtue.  It never was, but now it’s just downright irresponsible. Continue Reading →

Myer Fredman (1932-2014): The Passing of A Very Great Conductor and Musician’s Musician

Myer_Fredman_British_ConductorIt was with real sadness, that I was informed of Myer’s sudden passing from his sons, Nicholas and Jonathan, as I was entering the foyer of a theatre here in New York just before curtain up on July 5.  I wept copious, silent tears throughout the performance that, at the time, seemed to go on interminably.  The performance’s final curtain only exacerbated the terrible loss I still feel today.

I first came to know Myer Fredman as a youngish conducting student at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 1993.  At the time, I moved to Sydney having been given a scholarship opportunity to study with the maestro at Opera Australia and, specifically, with the intent of studying the operas of Mozart and Britten.  Myer’s expertise in these works was well-known – especially the works of Mozart – through his long association with Glyndebourne, but little did I know at the outset of his passion and finely detailed knowledge of the operatic canon (especially in the works of Verdi and Strauss).  It was like heaven!

Myer was a brilliant but uncompromising teacher.  His tolerance for lazy musicianship was well-known (if not legendary) and, as a student, I did ‘cop’ it on a few occasions for singing wrong notes and less than perfect rhythm when being required to sing and conduct simultaneously every part in whichever opera was under current study.  Lessons were of such length (almost inevitably without a break) that suddenly 3-4 hours had passed unnoticed.  I was exhausted, Myer was ebulliant.  His energy and enthusiasm for the task unstoppable. Continue Reading →