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.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Why did they not boo Netanyahu off the stage?

Netanyahu in a speech he gave last week to delegates of the Zionist World Congress in Jerusalem, invented the following dialogue that he claimed took place between the Palestinian Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini and Adolf Hitler during their 1941 meeting in Berlin in:

"He flew to Berlin. Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, 'If you expel them, they'll all come here.' 'So what should I do with them?' he asked. He said, 'Burn them'."

What accusation can be worse than to have instilled Auschwitz in Hitler’s mind? Propaganda must be simple and I just love the idea of Hitler – in typical Hitler manner - sitting there and asking the Mufti advice or even instructions: “so what should I do?” In his desire to blame Palestinians, Netanyahu almost whitewashed Hitler. The world has stopped listening to his ranting about Iran as the perpetrator of the next Holocaust and now it’s the Palestinians who are and always have been out to annihilate the Jews.   

Does Netanyahu believe the bullshit he utters? Did the former President of Iran, Ahmedinejad, believe his claim that the Holocaust is a myth? Did promoters of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” believe them to be true or was political expediency behind their emergence and re-emergence?

Netanyahu has form. He has form as a liar and as an inciter to hatred. This is what Israelis evidently want or at least are willing to accept. Otherwise, he would not be prime minister. But Diaspora Jews must also carry some of the blame. 60 per cent of the 525 delegates represent Diaspora Jewry and they sat and listened to Netanyahu’s speech. They should have booed him off the stage. Instead they stood in line for a photo opportunity with him. 

A Letter to Germany

100 Briefe an Deutschland  that was published a few weeks ago includes a letter from me. It is in German. S0 read it, if you can…

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Say YES to UN observers in Jerusalem

The 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine foresaw a special status for the greater Jerusalem area, as a corpus separatum, under a special international regime and administered by the United Nations. Unfortunately, this resolution was never implemented.

Now, because of the current tension in Jerusalem, France is promoting a plan to deploy international observers at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

Sounds like a good idea to me. But, Israel objects.

Having one-sidedly annexed East Jerusalem, Israel wants to avoid any act that might question its self-declared sovereignty over the city that contains sites holy to all three monotheistic religions. Sadly, the US will side with Israel on this matter and thereby prevent the necessary Security Council resolution.  

“How do I become a damn good writer?”

Years ago a German friend of mine stayed as a house guest in a beautiful country house in England. When he entered the room he had been allocated, he found a book on Nazi atrocities on the bookshelf. He was and still is convinced that the book was placed there by his hosts and friends on purpose, especially for him.

Recently, a friend of mine very kindly allowed me to use her apartment in a small town in Germany. Was the book “How do I become a damn good writer?” that I found on the coffee table in the living room, left there especially for me?

Friday, 9 October 2015

Back from Malta

Just back from a week in Malta.

This has now been taken care of. You do not need to go there. 

Cameron: I’ll Build a Stronger Society

First headline I saw when I arrived in the UK, a couple of days ago:
Cameron: I’ll Build a Stronger Society

Anyone buy that? I suppose that with his track record, pigs can fly would not be appropriate.