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July 28, 2021

"The Life of Brian"...Opera Edition

Brian Dickie

My summer is rather different this year - I was expecting to be travelling for Neue Stimmen auditions around Europe and also to South Africa.  But Covid has meant that I have been stuck in England since I returned from the USA and Paris on March 12 last year. Moreover, Neue Stimmen’s finals week has been postponed to March 2022 with live auditions, all being well, this coming October, November and December to select the about 40 wonderful final round participants who will be invited to Gütersloh.

Meanwhile we have changed the format of Neue Stimmen in response to the uncertainty generated by the pandemic.  Along with the online application each applicant had to upload two audition videos.  We had about 1400 applicants, so that is 2,800 videos - shock, horror! ;)  This has taken time - but there are three of us, Sophie Joyce and Evamaria Wieser also sharing the burden.  But that is still more than 900 videos each - imagine!

There were also some changes made for the next round: there are only 12 cities for live auditions this year but many good singers – which means we are forced to reduce the numbers of singers to a manageable level. I guess we will end up hearing about 700 singers live - already a lot since we can only welcome about 40 talents for the finals. Sopranos beware - it is going to be tough!

Meanwhile the plan for the rest of my summer are: performances at Glyndebourne, Garsington, and the Snape Maltings in Suffolk, the performance centre for Benjamin Britten’s Aldeburgh Festival. The British summer is always full of great opera and music. And all institutions have got up and running again after the disaster of 2020.

I was so happy this weekend to have seen the Royal Opera’s Jette Parker Young Artists in an outstanding show. Maybe some of them will come to Gütersloh next March?! The summer highlights have been four outstanding productions at Garsington: Der Rosenkavalier, Eugene Onegin, Handel’s Amadigi, and Le Comte Ory. Moreover, I am looking forward to a new production of Katia Kabanova at Glyndebourne as well as Luisa Miller to come in August. Alas I cannot get to Aix en Provence, Erl, Salzburg, or Bayreuth. Travelling is out of the question for the time being…so sad!

But Garsington in particular is giving me great pleasure. I am a member of their Artistic Advisory committee, as well as being part of the casting team, especially for singers from outside the UK! So, Neue Stimmen candidates - I will be watching you all very carefully!

Meanwhile we were enjoying temperatures of 30 degrees in London during the last days. On top of that I had a beautiful weekend with my huge family of 4 children and 11 grandchildren to celebrate my birthday. Life has never been better. But next year it will be better still!

What inspired me lately...

William Shakespeare

Sonnet XVIII


Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate.

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimmed;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,

Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,

When in eternal lines to Time thou grow'st.

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


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