All change at La Scala – but will Chailly take over when Barenboim departs?
Change is on the horizon for La Scala, Milan, with the news that music director Daniel Barenboim is to leave his post earlier than anticipated and rumours rife surrounding his replacement. At the end of October it was announced that Barenboim would step down from the opera company at the beginning of 2015 – two years before his contract expires in January 2017. Although important in itself, the information was made more pertinent by unconfirmed reports that had circulated in the Italian press the previous week – namely that Riccardo Chailly was being lined up as the company’s next music director.
Always intended as a stopgap head of house, Barenboim was appointed to his post in 2011. While the departure of the conductor was described by current La Scala intendant Stéphane Lissner as ‘the end of an era’, it has long been known that the great Italian house has desired an Italian as its musical boss. Comments by incoming general director Antonio Pereira to the effect that the next music director of La Scala would indeed be an Italian have therefore added much fuel to the fire.
Chailly, who was born and trained in Milan, is certainly a natural fit. At the age of 20 he served as assistant to La Scala’s then music director Claudio Abbado, and it was at La Scala that he made his conducting debut. Chailly’s operatic experience was later developed
‘It has long been known that the great Italian house has desired an Italian as its musical boss’
when he served as music director of the Teatro Comunale in Bologna (1986-93) and as head of the Opera in Leipzig (2005-08) – a role he gave up when extending his contract as music director of the Gewandhaus Orchestra to 2015.
For the time being, however, word of Chailly’s forthcoming La Scala leadership remains unconfirmed. Meanwhile, Barenboim – who turned 71 in November – will conduct Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tsar’s Bride, Mozart’s Così fan tutte and Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra at La Scala in 2014, and will open the company’s 2014-15 season with Beethoven’s Fidelio.
the lives of children,’ said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. ‘I am pleased that you will now be promoting global education, a key driver of human progress and well-being.’
Two key violins were put up for sale during October – each renowned for more than a notable maker and superb sound. First up was a 1750 Michele Angelo Bergonzi violin belonging to leading soloist Leila Josefowicz, which was sold through Ingles and Hayday at Sotheby’s in London on October 29. The instrument had been Josefowicz’s only concert violin since 2001, playing ‘an important role’ in her ‘musical identity worldwide’, according to the artist. The violin eventually sold for £156,000, exceeding its auction estimate.
Also making auction news was Min-Jin Kym, whose £1.2m Stradivarius violin was famously stolen at London’s Euston Station in November 2010. Although Kym was only reunited with her precious instrument earlier this year following a two-and-a-halfyear police investigation, the violinist has decided to sell the Strad through string-instrument auctioneers Tarisio on December 18 with an estimate of £2m. ‘This violin was a faithful friend for many years and I was devastated by its loss,’ said Kym, who has since acquired another Stradivarius. ‘Its recovery is an absolute relief. I am eager to hear the violin on stage once more and I wish its next owner all the best of luck and success.’
Superstar pianist, global recording artist and musical icon Lang Lang is hardly a low-key performer, and as if this superlative list of accolades isn’t enough, the Chinese musician has recently been named a United Nations Messenger of Peace, with a special focus on global education. A UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for the past 10 years, Lang Lang now joins 11 other UN Peace Messengers (including Daniel Barenboim and Yo-Yo Ma), all recognised names in the fields of art, film, literature, music and sports, who help to raise awareness of the body’s work and ideals through public appearances and humanitarian activities.
‘As Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, you have used your unique ability to inspire audiences around the world to help improve
Universal Music Group is embarking on a ‘revitalised commitment’ to its classical department in the US by launching Universal Music Classics. Formerly the Decca Label Group, the new Universal Music Classics encompasses the Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Mercury Classics and Panorama imprints, while continuing its relationship with the ECM label. The rebranded division will be headed by Elizabeth Sobol, who was appointed its president by Universal Music Group International chairman and CEO Max Hole earlier this year. UMC will seek to cultivate new American artists and forge partnerships with organisations which share its goal of ‘engaging with a younger and wider audience for classics’. Charlotte Smith
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12 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2013