The Washington Post has a long, fascinating piece on Dietmar Machold, the 63-year-old violin dealer/con man who went on trial in Vienna this week: "It is the largest fraud case in the history of a trade that goes back to at least the middle of the 18th century: Apart from criminal charges, Machold faces civil claims estimated at $200 million. ... A New Money kid with world-class collections of coins and antique cameras, and a frequent-flier account to rival Henry Kissinger's, Machold bought a 14th-century castle near Vienna and filled the courtyard with 44 cars, including 14 Bentleys, 10 Rolls-Royces and six Aston Martins, many of them leased for clients."
Soprano Anna Netrebko says her ingénue days are behind her: "I'm a different person. I look different, and I'm different in my mind. Well, I'm 41 years old — time to grow up. The last two or three years, I was trying to figure out where I'm going. I tried to postpone heavier repertoire. But now I'm saying goodbye to -inas [a name suffix that often denotes ingénues in opera] — and I'm very happy about that."
Remember the days of six major labels (Sony, BMG, Warner, EMI and Universal)? Looks like we'll very soon be down to just two "majors": today, regulators in Europe approved Universal's takeover of EMI. What does this mean for classical music in particular? Actually, a lot: the deal calls for Universal to sell off both EMI Classics and Virgin Classics.
Sorry to say that there's rumblings of a work stoppage at yet another American orchestra, this time in Florida, after management made an offer that included nearly a 20% salary cut for players. "With the orchestra's finances 'on life support right now' because of ongoing budget deficits, the Jacksonville Symphony Association board declared an impasse Tuesday in its negotiations with its musicians. ... 'We are not going to lock them out,' said Martin Connor, board chairman-elect and a member of the board's negotiating team. 'We're going to implement our proposal. Then it's up to them. ... We are still planning to go ahead with opening night. But we are not optimistic.'" Their season is scheduled to begin September 28.
As anticipated, the "official" 50 Shades of Classicalcompilation, born of novelist EL James' smash 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, has taken the No. 1 spot on the Billboard classical chart upon release. (Insert S&M joke of choice here.)
Do you recall the Oregon-based tenor who was randomly shot on his way home from choir practice half a year ago? Well, he's happily backed to singing and choir directing — watch him in a KPTV video.
Houston Grand Opera is bringing Siegfried and the Valkyries to Texas, while Ebenezer Scrooge and George Bailey are due up, too.
24-year-old Italian pianist Federico Colli just won first place in the Leeds Piano Competition in Britain. Pianist Kathryn Stott told BBC 3 that Colli "completely reinvented" Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto: "It was fresh. He's a superb pianist." (And is that a silver lame ascot he's wearing in his press photo? Apparently so. The BBC says he is "instantly recognizable by his curly hair and his luxuriant cravats.")
Dogs, Dvorak and the dead in D.C.: A group of dog owners trying to raise money for Washington's deteriorated Congressional Cemetery — where they walk their canine friends — are putting on a series of fundraising chamber music concerts at the cemetery's chapel, featuring musicians from the National Symphony. The first concert is this weekend; no word on whether or not pups will be allowed.