INTO THE UNKNOWN REGIONS
By the Editor
Some news too new for this month’s Newsdesk. Writing this on our press day am happy to report on a venture that in these unsettling and straitened times FEDORA was reconstituted in January 2014, reviving an idea set up 20 years ago by humming one of Giordano’s best tunes, it should be explained that FEDORA is the catchier name of The European Circle of Philanthropists of Opera and Ballet, and under the presidency of Jérôme-François Zieseniss, the prizes look to encourage new ways of presenting opera and ballet, rather than recognizing past achievement. Identifying creativity before the act of creation has taken place is not easy, which is why the chairman of both juries, Nicholas Payne (FEDORA is working in close collaboration with Opera Europa), quipped that they could be ‘dangerous prizes’; but as a member of the opera jury I can testify to the thoroughness of the process and the care with which the many excellent applications were considered.
And the winners? The €150,000 Rolf Liebermann Prize for Opera is shared between the Teatro Sociale di Como for its new work Milo and Maya Around the World (by the composer Matteo Franceschini and librettist Lisa Capaccioli), being developed jointly with theatres in Liège, Magdeburg and Rouen; and Muziektheater Transparant for Private View from Antwerp, Bergen, Berlin, Bruges, Luxembourg and Rotterdam. If these projects represent a step into the unknown, FEDORA is also ushering in a possible new age of philanthropy, in that anyone wanting to contribute to the future of opera can join from as little as €750. With the old-style certainties of social-democratic state funding now looking sadly and increasingly like a thing of the past, FEDORA’s mission is enlightened
A different sort of generosity comes to mind now. It is my sad duty to report the death of one of our best-loved writers, Michael Kennedy, in Manchester on December 31 at the age of 88. When I say ‘our’, he served on the editorial board and appeared regularly in Telegraph critic who devoted the whole of his long career to that paper, as a postgraduate student visiting from South Africa, and it was a privilege to succeed him ten years ago on the Sunday Telegraph. Michael was the gentlest of gentlemen, but with strong passions and views always expressed in memorably elegant turns of phrase, including his unforgettable description of Delius’s Mass of Life as ‘A very long walk to the paradise garden’. His walk will surely be shorter. We are fortunate to publish his last review (see p. 228 for his notice of the RNCM’s Merry Widow). Our thoughts are with his widow Joyce, and next month’s issue will include a full obituary and tribute.
Opera, February 2015