Tuesday, January 31, 2006

No holds barred

Here's my piece about David McVicar in today's Independent. He has plenty to say, on the day of the State of the Union address, about the State of the Art of opera here in the UK and he doesn't mince his words. How some of his comments got past my editor, I'll never know. So far there hasn't been nuclear fallout...not yet...

You can also read/download a PDF the article at my online archive on main website.

I'm going to see the resulting production next week & will report back then.

Meanwhile computer nightmares continue, but there are some exciting things happening later this week...more soon...

Friday, January 27, 2006

Mozart day

It's the Big Birthday: Mozart is 250 today. Happy birthday, Wolfie.

BBC news is marking the occasion by showing all the kitsch for sale in Salzburg and interviewing Lesley Garrett. Kenneth Branagh is making a film of the Magic Flute with a text by Stephen Fry setting the whole thing around the era of the First World War. Channel 5 is the only terrestrial TV station that's shown anything like a celebratory documentary. Norman Lebrecht is busy slagging WAM off again (it's clear, from what he writes, that he's never heard the Serenade for 13 Wind Instruments) and Ian Bostridge in The Guardian penned something about how Idomeneo contains the only interesting tenor role Mozart ever wrote. David McVicar, who is directing Figaro at Covent Garden, decided, when I interviewed him the other day, to be incredibly outspoken about all of this. All being well, the piece should be appearing next week (fingers crossed). My feature on why this anniversary is not likely to be the greatest thing since sliced bread seems to have missed its sell-by date, gazumped by something in the news section that covered some of the same ground.

While despairing over the state of music and attitudes towards it, I'm simultaneously gob-smacked by the levels of artistry that still exist among today's greatest musicians, and especially by a new DVD that I watched yesterday: Thomas Quasthoff and Daniel Barenboim performing Winterreise from the Philharmonie in Berlin. Words fail in the face of such musicianship, and musicianship doesn't even begin to describe what they do. It's staggering. Try and see it. Yes, we live in an age of appalling Philistinism, but if Quasthoff and Barenboim are in the world, it can't be all bad.

3.40pm UPDATE: Nice to see that Google has joined the celebrations.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


I'm feeling too ill to think creatively and my Internet Explorer keeps crashing now. This is the third time I've started writing this post to explain that I have removed all my articles from further back than October from the sidebar. This is because I now have a snazzy web archive of articles on my permasite (good word, that?), which you can find here. It's not complete, but has a good selection and will be updated periodically, once I have the capability to scan articles and send them to my webmaster.

Gig of the week: Tasmin Little joins the Britten Sinfonia for her 1000th concert. She'll be playing Mozart and Bach and the programme also includes plenty of Shostakovich. Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


I'd been planning to regale you all with the musical and Terpsichorean delights of my trip to South America, but I'm still fighting with my computer. I have lost all e-mails from the last three and a half year and my entire address book. I am planning to go out and buy an old-fashioned paper address book in which you write your info by hand and which can be stored safely in a drawer. Still, I need info to put in it.

Therefore, please can I issue an appeal to all my friends & family who are reading this to please, PLEASE email me with all your contact details?!?

Thank you!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Back. Sort of.

I'm home again, but not sure I'm really back, if you get my drift. I'd hoped to kick off a new year of blogging with a stunning photo of myself sipping a green coconut through a straw on Copacabana Beach - and yes, I have such a photo - but I arrived home after two glorious weeks in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires to find major computer problems waiting for me. Partly the result of abruptly dead Entourage, partly too the result of outdated operating system.

To mend or not to mend, that is the question. Whether tis better in the end to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous Microsoft Entourage, pay someone to come out & try to mend it & buy an upgrade to newer operating system, or to take arms against a sea of computer problems and by buying an entirely new machine, end them?!

Anyway, I have had the most wonderful holiday of my life, so I shouldn't complain. If I can find some way of loading the pictures onto my outdated computer, I will post them...Here's a quick summary.

In RIO, we:
Ate a lot of tropical fruit;
Sipped caipirinhas by the beach, watching the sunset;
Went up Sugarloaf Mountain, started chatting to a fellow English speaker at the top & then discovered he was Nitin Sawhney;
Walked around Santa Teresa and almost didn't return, it was so beautiful;
Went to intimate venue in Ipanema to hear bossa nova singer Ricco Duarte, who has a voice like a bass saxophone;
Felt safer than in New York or even London.

Had two tango lessons;
Bought leather jackets & the most sensual of all tango shoes, in multiples of 3 (Argentina is cheap leather land);
Ate steak, steak and more steak;
Drank fabulous local red wine;
Met up with some friends whom Tom got to know during his tour there a couple of years ago & went with them to a real tango Milonga, where we watched the experts and realised that none of them were doing the one basic move we'd mastered...
Walked around La Boca, where the tango was born;
Poked about the antique shops of San Telmo;
Were glad to escape with our lives from the taxis....

That's the summary. Off to solve computer situation now. Don't forget that Solti is blogging too! Go to my website's Links page and click on the Solti blog box to access Paws for Thought.

Sunday, January 01, 2006



I'm celebrating the new year by launching, today

my new permanent website, www.jessicaduchen.co.uk

There you will find:

All the latest news about forthcoming events, including the imminent publication of my novel RITES OF SPRING;
Details and reviews of my books, with links to Amazon in case anyone wants to buy them;
A large selection of my articles in downloadable PDF format in the Archive;
Links to friends and favourite websites;
Unique access via the Links page to a new blog, PAWS FOR THOUGHT...? chronicling the tribulations of a certain resident ginger feline...

Business here at JDCMB continues unimpeded, of course, but I will be rationalising the sidebar a bit.

I am, however, decamping for a short break. While I'm away, please have a dekko at the new site and enjoy exploring some of the links and the blogroll!

All the best to everyone for 2006!