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Sony’s next opera has gone for a Perm

We hear that a Sony crew has turned up in Perm, central Russia, to record Cosi fan tutte.

Where on earth?

Well, the artistic director in Perm is an entrepreneurial Greek conductor, Teodor Currentzis, and it looks like he has some deal going with Sony as they have already recorded a Rameau gala and a Marriage of Figaro in Perm. Probably, they get the orchestra and chorus for free.


Right now, they are back in Perm with a hot cast of Simone Kermes, Christopher Maltman and Malena Ernman to record Cosi. The opera house will be shut to the public for ten days, from today. Here’s Malena’s view from her hotel window, published on her Facebook page.


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  1. Gary Carpenter says:

    The other famous entrepreneurial son of Perm was Diaghilev.

  2. That photo is from Wikipedia. I was wondering why there wasn’t any snow . . .

  3. Who is supposed to buy this repertoire with this cast ??? We already have great Figaro´s, Cosi´s and Rameau pieces with the best orchestras and singers in a higher artistic league.
    it just shows how desparate the big labels are.

    • From a business point of view, this does indeed only make sense as an absolutely low cost production. But well, why not?

    • I’m sure I will buy the Cosi precisely because ot the cast. Simone Kermes, Malena Ernman and Christopher Maltman are three of the most exciting singers of our times. In 2010 I saw Simone and Christopher in Don Giovanni in Cologne and they were outstandig. So I’m really looking forward to get a CD where they sing together, even if it is “only” Cosi, which is not my favourite Opera.

  4. Martin Bookspan says:

    What a fascinating history you have shared with us, Reiner. Thank you!

    • DrewLewis says:

      If you can get the download link to work, the Russian site, which provides excellent and free video transmissions of concerts, operas and ballets from Russia, offers videos of Currentzis conducting Mahler 2 and a programme from the Philharmonic Hall in Perm combining Dido and Aeneas with Michael Nyman’s Prologue. The orchestra is MusicAeterna.

  5. Grigory Volkov says:

    By the way if you would really know who is who in russian rheater life, you would know that Perm opera is not provincial if comparing it with Novosibirsk opera. It celebrated 140th birthday last year and admitted by many critics as a best opera house in russian province. I think, 17 nominations for Golden mask (the most prestigious theatre award in Russia) – more than any another theatre, excluding Stanislavsky – is a nice proof of Currentzis talents

  6. Thanks moderator, for letting, some, people speaking their mind…
    Sadly, i suspect that all this is more about fabrication than commentary.
    I guess mudslinging is not considered offensive in your blotter

  7. Maria Forsström says:

    I have done six productions with Teodor Currentzis in a little over 18 months. I am conductor, pianist, church musician and singer myself, having the luck of becoming a professional singer during the last years. I am not famous at all, and I’d assume no one outside Sweden would by a cd just because my name is on it, yet.

    I can assure you all that Teodor is absolutely brilliant as a conductor. His gestures are exact, his musical intentions are crystal clear. He is also has a very warm, generous personality. I have never seen such dedication as his – of course he is young and fiery, of course he can drive us all mad, of course I can get irritated at times. But he achieves splendid results. No one ever has put so much attention to detail, to clarity, to every little semiquaver in an ensemble. I was invited to sing a Pergolesi Stabat Mater together with Deborah York and Teodor’s orchestra Musica Aeterna in April 2011. This little piece was given four days of rehearsals. It was a revelation to hear how the music got off the page under his hands. I was stunned by the result. The musicians chose to leave Novosibirsk with Teodor, when he was invited to Perm. They all took their families with them. I know these people and I know their stories. They are proud to work with him.

    Then I was invited to sing Dorabella in the stage production of Così 2011, which now has been recorded by Sony this month with Malena Ernman, my collegue, who also worked before with Teodor. The theatre got 17 nominations for the “Golden Mask Festival”, among them nominations for Così as “Best conductor”. We are singing Così in Perm and in Moscow, at the Novaya Opera on the 18th of Feb. It is a kind of Mozart I never experienced before, either.

    We also did a Mahler 2 last year with some brass musicians from the Vienna Phil, Bavaria Symphony and Graz, all going to Perm for this project. It was also on Paraclassics. I did a tour with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, a Phaedra by Britten and Luciano Berio’s Folk Songs with Teodor. Fantastic conducting and just before the concert in Berlin, I asked him backstage – “Teo, will you give me an extra glance on that little beat in Britten you know?” And he answered, kindest on earth, knowing this was a big moment for me: “Of course! I will always help you, you know.” And he did – very reliably on stage.

    We did a “Le Nozze di Figaro” on stage last Autumn, recording afterwards for Sony in September-October. Extremely demanding. I was exhausted after singing Marcelling with original coloratura in fast tempo, but so proud of achieving something that required accuracy and some quite tough conductorship.

    He chooses singers not because they are famous, but of what they are capable of doing with their voices. I can understand if singers who are not willing to compromise with what they already think about themselves and their voices, reject working with Teodor. But personally, I have found that he is one of the few conductors who dares to challenge musicians to “jump out of the box”, since he has a rare ability to understand what they really are capable of doing.

    I am one of these happy singers, whose voice and life has been deeply enriched with this meeting with this passionate conductor. It will be very exciting to see how he will develop during the next decade. Time will tell, but I will always be grateful.

  8. And let’s not forget the “deep forests of Perm” (Boris Godunov Act II)

  9. “It’s unclear if Mikhail ever realised he had became, de facto, the Tsar.”

    He hadn’t. Tsar Nicholas had abdicated in 1917, so he was the last Tsar, de facto and de jure. Mikhail was the next in line, but he had decided to wait and see what would happen before accepting the throne at that point. He never got there. So he was never the Tsar, neither de facto nor de jure. And he was survived by a son, too, but since there was no more Tsarship (is that the right word?), he was not a successor to it either. I think there was also someone from the last Tsar’s family who declared himself Tsar, “Tsar Cyrill”, but I may not remember that correctly. It’s pretty irrelevant anyway. The rule of the Tsars ended in 1917, no matter what they and their family thought.

  10. So much bias & hatred, for someone who most probably ignores your existence. It’s pathetic…But then it seems to me that trolling, is what you do best. I guess the way you talk about Currentzis, is a perfect reference point for your altruism, nobility and professional kudos. Get a life man

    Good luck with anonymity

  11. I can not agree with you. As a native russian who keeps an eye on theatre life in our country and espesially St.Petersburg I know that he as not fired from Novosibirsk or Bolshoi or other theaters. May be he was fired from Mariinsky but only for personal squabbles with other musisians. I wouldn’t like dig in other people’s quarrels but just remember thw words of Theodor’s teacher-ilia Musin^ he said that he had a lot of tallented students (Gergiev,Temirkanov- both from Mariinsky), but only one genius- Currentzis

  12. I think it’s disingenuous to imply the Bolshoi has withdrawn a STAGE PRODUCTION because of a conductor. Unless he was also the stage director, that makes no sense, and you must know that as well, being a stage director.

    I also can not agree with you about him being a bad accompanist. I did a great concert with him, in which he was an exemplar accompanist and could tell me the reasoning for every musical choice he made.

    He is not always sarcastic, nor nasty with colleagues: I can imagine this coming out when he is forced to work with people who are either not on-board with his vision or who are musically or intellectually lazy. I’m sorry to hear that other singers have had bad experiences with him, as my own experience was wonderful.

    As for his hopping around, I’m sure it can be distracting sometimes for the audience ;-) , but I have never seen a conductor be able to transmit so much with every fibre of his being like Currentsis. It is specifically his unorthodox manner that is able to impart his vision of the music, even if you don’t like that interpretation. (!) Hopefully he will learn from his personal mistakes and continue to develop as a great artist. Nobody’s perfect! With charisma, you usually get a lot of ego. He’s no exception; but at least the talent (at least in my taste) backs up this self-confidence.

    That said, he can be someone’s taste or not. I guess we all see he is not to your taste.

  13. Hi, Reiner,
    I certainly don’t want to get into any kind of fight here online, and I understand you don’t like Currentzis, which is definitely your prerogative. There is no reason to get sarcastic with people who question conclusions which could seem like 2+2=9 to some of us.

    We’re all on this blog because we’re interested in the arts and the furthering of opera and classical music, hopefully. I hope you’ll respect differences of opinion without making personal attacks. I certainly don’t mean a personal attack on you if I refute a few of your points; this is not about “winning” but just about being clear about what is opinion and what is fact. You treat your conclusions as facts sometimes, but they remain your own conclusions; I think these can be questioned without implying you are stupid or anything else!! I would hope to have the same courtesy from you, please.

    I do stick to my observation that it’s disingenuous to state that an opera house cancels or no longer does a STAGE production because of the CONDUCTOR who was initially involved with it. I’m refuting that one thing, as it seems to be the anchor of your argument that he’s being fired left and right. He’s not the only conductor in the world that knows Wozzeck, and he didn’t create the staging, did he? The Bolshoi could always invite any other conductor to conduct their Wozzeck production, so their lack of a reprise never could have anything to do with him and whether they liked him.. He already came back to revive both Wozzeck and Don Giovanni at the Bolshoi, so I would think this would have changed before a second run if he were so objectionable.

    There are always many other factors to take into account for someone not being re-invited to a theater – their availability, first of all, the repertoire being done in a theater and their affinity for it, the right conditions/collaborators for their productions (cast, director, etc.. to their liking) and whether or not they are in favor with whomever is making the artistic decisions . Any one of these can preclude them being at a certain theater at any moment, and don’t necessarily have anything to do with their artistic merits.

    In any case, Currentzis’ not working at the Bolshoi is a moot point – there could be many reasons, and they doesn’t necessarily reflect on his value as a conductor. He probably has bigger fish to fry and is trying his luck in the rest of the world. I notice that Currentzis is with IMG Artists, who certainly will not be making huge efforts to book him in Russia (which is a bit off the map in most people’s minds as far as classical capitols go, unfortunately.) I back up this observation with his bookings since starting with IMG – Madrid, Paris, NDR Hamburg; Munich Philharmonic Orchestra; Bregenz Festival with the Vienna Symphony, Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg Mozartwoche, Zurich Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, Royal Opera Covent Garden, etc… He’s Principal Guest of SWR Baden-Baden, too, so obviously someone likes him. At this rate, who has time for the Bolshoi?

    Again, this forum is for all kinds of opinions, but based on facts and not unsubstantiated conclusions and hearsay. None of us can claim to be “the” hotline to the facts since we are not behind the scenes in every opera house and orchestra…

    If we’re going to talk about under-deserving conductors having overblown careers, I’d love to hear your opinions on other people, too! There are a few people out there that really bug me that they continue to have big careers, as well: I’m curious if you and I probably agree on more than we disagree! ;-)

    All my best!

  14. What about all the other engagements with renowned orchestras and theaters Grigory mentioned in his last paragraph? If those are true, then it does look like Mr Currentzis is quite successful.

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