Monday, 23 November 2015

The Jonas Kaufmann Lottery

This is the fifth time, that Jonas Kaufmann has cancelled his participation at a performance that I have had tickets for. He is the greatest tenor in the world these days and when he does appear, it is a wonderful experience. But, buying a ticket for an opera, in which he is meant to sing, is like buying a lottery ticket. And, as lotteries go, there is no transparency. 

What’s wrong with that man and his “viral throat infections”?

The only reason, I’ve booked tickets for Carmen was because Kaufmann was to sing Don José. And then the bas**** cancels yet again. Covent Garden does not refund the expensive ticket price, one does not even get the surcharge – that they levy when they have superstars in one of their productions – back.

All they offer – if one does not want to hear the second rate replacement they had arranged – is an exchange within the same season. That is up to mid-March with very little choice.

Neither Kaufmann, nor Covent Garden should be allowed to get away with this shoddy way of treating the public of opera lovers. Sadly, we are a captive audience and are being treated as such.

Shame on Covent Garden Opera Director Kasper Holten.Mr. Holten - the least you can do is give customers a 12 months period to exchange the tickets. 

Barenboim - Go Home

Daniel Barenboim has been Music Director of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, the Berlin State Opera since 1992. In addition to this job, and to performing as a concert pianist and to various appearances as guest conductor around the world, Barenboim is also music director of Milan’s La Scala. Barenboim also runs the West Eastern Divan, the orchestra that brings together young Arab and Israeli musicians. This year, he opened his very own music academy in Berlin, the Barenboim-Said Academy. It seems that this, a third musical university in Berlin, was established at great cost to the taxpayer mainly to flatter Barenboim’s ego. 

Barenboim had really done much to develop, maintain and nurture the Staatskapelle orchestra, but now he has either grown tired or simply lost interest. He should let go and let someone else take over. The decline in the quality musically, (The new production of Figaro conducted without inspiration by Gustavo Dudamel, is a case in point.), is not aided by the bad productions of Jürgen Flimm, the Staatsoper’s Intendant.

Fortunately, Flimm will be leaving next year; unfortunately, he is stocking up the opera company with his own productions that are likely to stay as the house productions for years to come. Not to be unmentioned is the fact, that Barenboim should not have invited Flimm - with his terrible track record at the Salzburg Festival - to become Intendant of the Berlin State Opera.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Refugees and German Girls

“I will not allow anyone to say that I am a Nazi. My father was in a concentration camp because of the Nazis.” Without going into the question whether the speaker’s father had indeed been imprisoned by the Nazis and for what reason, that fact alone would not automatically immunize the son from becoming a neo-Nazi.

It appears that Jürgen Mannke, head teacher in a gymnasium and the head of a teaching union in the German state of Sachsen Anhalt, has warned - in an article in his union’s magazine - of the danger posed to young German girls by Muslim male immigrants.

“Many young, strong and mostly Muslim men… not always with the most honourable intentions…often uneducated” are coming to Germany, and have a desire for sexuality, the authors of the article explain and ask, “How shall we form sexual education for our girls, 12 years and older, so that they do not let themselves into superficial relationships with the often attractive Muslim males.”

It is curious how the sexual fantasies of right-wingers worldwide drive them insane when they imagine the always-attractive outsider male screwing their women. 

Worryingly, Mannke claims to have received 90 per cent positive reactions to the article.

Bush (41) speaks out – Finally.

Finally, but 14 years too late, Bush the father has openly said what everyone has known since day one about his son’s closest political partners:

Vice president Dick Cheney, an “iron ass…knuckling under the real hard-charging guys who want to fight about everything, use force to get our way in the Middle East” and

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the “arrogant fellow… with a lack of humility, lack of seeing what the other guy thinks” .

Cheney’s wife, Lynne, Bush added, an “iron-ass, tough as nails, driving… was very much the eminence grise.”

The world would have been rather different, had the father told his son (albeit the President) in no uncertain terms, what he is saying now.