Crisis at Scottish Opera?
To launch our new season Music Matters reports on recent events at Scottish Opera. Due to the financial pressures facing the company the management have been in negotiations with the Musicians Union regarding the ‘under-utilised’ orchestra. This week the players voted narrowly in favour of becoming part time employees.
Tom talks to Scottish Opera’s General Director, Alex Reedijk, and the Glasgow Herald’s Michael Tumelty about what this means for the future of the company.
The Bach Dynasty
History’s most important musical family – the Bachs – dominated German musical life for almost 300 years. Though Johann Sebastian is the undisputed giant of the dynasty, his ancestors were renowned in their time as instrumental players, church organists, instrument makers and composers. Such was the family’s reputation that when, in 1693, a musical vacancy occurred at the court in Arnstadt, the court called urgently for ‘a Bach’. Johann Sebastian’s many children maintained the family traditions.
Conductor and harpsichordist Richard Egarr talks to Tom about the significance of this great dynasty and his plans to highlight the music of JS Bach’s predecessors and progeny with the Academy of Ancient Music.
J.S. Bach © Palm/Rsch/Redferns
Niobe, Regina Di Tebe
Italian composer Agostino Steffani was widely acclaimed in his own day and admired by his contemporaries including Handel. First performed in Munich in 1688, his opera Niobe, Regina Di Tebe remained neglected until 2008, when it was staged at the Schwetzingen Festival. The piece tells the story of the mythological Niobe, who scandalises the gods by saying her offspring are worth more than the deities’; her children are slain, and she turns to stone with grief. The libretto adds subplots of intrigue, love and lust, which paint a picture of Niobe as more monster than victim.
Tom visits rehearsals for the UK premiere at the Royal Opera House and meets conductor Thomas Hengelbrock, director Lukas Hemleb, and Niobe herself, Veronique Gens.
Noibe, Regina Di Tebe © Monika Rittershaus
One of the most successful film composers of all time, Nino Rota scored some of the greatest films of the twentieth century - Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, Francis Ford Coppola’s first two Godfather films, and Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. Steeped in classical music (he was Director of the Bari Conservatory of Music for most of his life), he drew also on a vast range of popular, traditional, jazz and folk styles in his scores.
Tom is joined by writer Richard Dyer, film composer Miguel Mera and Bruno Moretti, Rota’s last student, to discuss why his music is still among the best ever written for cinema.
Nino Rota © BFI
Iranian Shardad Rohani is guest conductor with the Tehran Symphony Orchestra - an ensemble with a rich distant past, a tortuous recent history (classical music was banned after the revolution in 1979), a complex present, and a hopeful future.
Shardad talks to Tom about the popularity of classical music in Iran and his hopes for the future of the Tehran Symphony Orchestra.