In This Programme
La voix humaine
Opera North open their new season this weekend in a newly refurbished Grand Theatre in Leeds. Tom went to Leeds to meet the principal players in a new production of Poulenc's La voix humaine that opens there next month. It's an opera like no other: a 45 minute scene for soprano, telephone, and orchestra. Yes you did read that right - the woman, Elle, spends the whole opera on the phone to her lover, who has just split up with her. Tom talks to Joan Rodgers, who's singing Elle, conductor Paul Watkins, and director Deborah Warner, who all joined him on the bed that dominates the set for the show.
La voix humaine travels to Newcastle, Nottingham, Manchester and London between November 3rd and 22nd.
Deborah Warner is directing La voix humaine, and is as famous now as an opera director as for her work in the theatre. She's transformed how we think of the classics, whether Shakespeare or Beethoven. But her first opera was also one of the most challenging in the whole repertoire - Berg's Wozzeck, which she staged for Opera North in 1993. She tells Tom how her relationship with opera and theatre has changed in that time, and how she feels excited by being an outsider in the opera world.
Orchestral playing and management consultancy seem to have little in common. But conductor Benjamin Zander is one of the most sought after motivational speakers to gigantic corporations - as well being as a busy guest conductor, especially with the Philharmonia in London. He uses the power of music to transform the way companies think about their staff, and to motivate the employees to be more creative and productive. Tom finds out how Zander relates big business to Beethoven.
The Art of Possibility is published by Penguin at £8.99 paperback.
Stravinsky: The Second Exile
31 years after his death, Stravinsky is still a controversial figure. He was legendary for his meanness and autocratic manner as well for the power in his music. Author Stephen Walsh has tried to set the record straight. The second volume of his huge biography of the composer has recently been published, charting the story of Stravinsky's final years in Paris and decades in America, until his death in 1971. It's full of the detail of Stravinsky's life - the legal wrangling, the endless travelling, and of course the music. Stravinsky's relationship with Robert Craft, the composer's assistant and who has written volumes of memoirs comes under close scrutiny. Tom asks Stephen about Craft, and composer Julian Anderson and critic Stephen Pettitt will be telling him whether this really is the definitive word on Stravinsky.
Stravinsky: The Second Exile - France and America, 1934 - 1971 by Stephen Walsh is published by Jonathan Cape, an imprint of Random House . HB £30
Producer: Jeremy Evans
Researcher: Cameron Smith