Rodney Milnes Blumer OBE (26 July 1936 – 5 December 2015) was an English music critic, musicologist, writer, translator and broadcaster, with a particular interest in opera. He wrote under the professional name of Rodney Milnes.
Born in Stafford, where his father was a surgeon,He learnt the piano as a child, to the level of playing the early Beethoven sonatas, and later recalled accompanying a fellow Oxford student in Winterreise at the Holywell Music Room.
Stafford is the county town of Staffordshire, in the West Midlands of England. It lies approximately 16 miles (26 km) north of Wolverhampton, 18 miles (29 km) south of Stoke-on-Trent and 24 miles (39 km) north-west of Birmingham. The population in 2001 was 63,681 and that of the wider borough of Stafford 122,000, the fourth largest in the county after Stoke-on-Trent, Tamworth and Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Ludwig van Beethoven wrote his 32 piano sonatas between 1795 and 1822. Although originally not intended to be a meaningful whole, as a set they compose one of the most important collections of works in the history of music. Hans von Bülow called them "The New Testament" of the piano literature.
Winterreise is a song cycle for voice and piano by Franz Schubert, a setting of 24 poems by Wilhelm Müller. It is the second of Schubert's two great song cycles on Müller's poems, the earlier being Die schöne Müllerin.
Milnes attended Rugby School and studied history at Christ Church, Oxford University.He was a member of the Oxford University Opera Club, taking part in The Fair Maid of Perth in 1955 (with Dudley Moore among the first violins and David Lloyd-Jones in the chorus), and Smetana's The Secret in 1956, which featured the debut of Janet Baker as Panna Róza, both conducted by Jack Westrup. He also sang Ko-Ko in a concert performance during his Oxford days.
Rugby School is a day and boarding co-educational independent school in Rugby, Warwickshire, England. It is one of the oldest independent schools in Britain. Its re-establishment by Thomas Arnold during his time as Headmaster, from 1828 to 1841, was seen as the forerunner of the Victorian public school. It is one of the original seven Great Nine Public Schools defined by the Clarendon Commission of 1864. Total enrolment of day pupils from forms 4 to 12 numbers around 800.
Christ Church is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Christ Church is a joint foundation of the college and the Cathedral of the Oxford diocese, which serves as the college chapel and whose dean is ex officio the college head.
The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's second-oldest university in continuous operation. It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled north-east to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two 'ancient universities' are frequently jointly referred to as 'Oxbridge'. The history and influence of the University of Oxford has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
He undertook National Service after Oxford, serving in the Education Corps in West Germany, and finishing with the rank of sergeant. The years also enabled him to hear opera around Germany. From then during the 1960s he worked in several publishers.
The Royal Army Educational Corps (RAEC) was a corps of the British Army tasked with educating and instructing personnel in a diverse range of skills. On 6 April 1992 it became the Educational and Training Services Branch (ETS) of the Adjutant General's Corps.
West Germany is the common English name for the Federal Republic of Germany in the period between its creation on 23 May 1949 and German reunification on 3 October 1990. During this Cold War era, NATO-aligned West Germany and Warsaw Pact-aligned East Germany were divided by the Inner German border. After 1961 West Berlin was physically separated from East Berlin as well as from East Germany by the Berlin Wall. This situation ended when East Germany was dissolved and split into five states, which then joined the ten states of the Federal Republic of Germany along with the reunified city-state of Berlin. With the reunification of West and East Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany, enlarged now to sixteen states, became known simply as "Germany". This period is referred to as the Bonn Republic by historians, alluding to the interwar Weimar Republic and the post-reunification Berlin Republic.
Milnes was the opera critic for Harpers and Queen (1970–90), opera critic of The Spectator (1988–90), Evening Standard (1990–92), and Chief Opera Critic The Times (1992–2002).He was associate editor of Opera from 1976, deputy editor from 1984, and editor between 1986–99. There he honed his reputation as a "trenchant and entertaining writer, with a strong background in literature and theatre, and wide musical sympathies". In his final editorial for Opera, Milnes wrote:
The Spectator is a weekly British magazine on politics, culture, and current affairs. It was first published in July 1828. It is owned by David and Frederick Barclay who also own The Daily Telegraph newspaper, via Press Holdings. Its principal subject areas are politics and culture. Its editorial outlook is generally supportive of the Conservative Party, although regular contributors include some outside that fold, such as Frank Field, Rod Liddle and Martin Bright. The magazine also contains arts pages on books, music, opera, and film and TV reviews.
The Times is a British daily national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register, adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers, since 1981 a subsidiary of News UK, itself wholly owned by News Corp. The Times and The Sunday Times do not share editorial staff, were founded independently, and have only had common ownership since 1967.
Opera is a monthly British magazine devoted to covering all things related to opera. It contains reviews and articles about current opera productions internationally, as well as articles on opera recordings, opera singers, opera companies, opera directors, and opera books. The magazine also contains major features and analysis on individual operas and people associated with opera.
Milnes translated various operas under his original name, including Rusalka , The Jacobin , Osud , Don Chischiotte, Pollicino, Undine , Giovanna d'Arco , Die drei Pintos and Tannhäuser .
Rusalka, Op. 114, is an opera by Antonín Dvořák. The Czech libretto was written by the poet Jaroslav Kvapil (1868–1950) based on the fairy tales of Karel Jaromír Erben and Božena Němcová. A rusalka is a water sprite from Slavic mythology, usually inhabiting a lake or river. Rusalka is one of the most successful Czech operas, and represents a cornerstone of the repertoire of Czech opera houses.
The Jacobin is an opera in three acts by Antonín Dvořák to an original Czech libretto by Marie Červinková-Riegrová. Červinková-Riegrová took some of the story's characters from the story by Alois Jirásek, "At the Ducal Court", but devised her own plot about them. The first performance was at the National Theatre, Prague, 1889. Červinková-Riegrová revised the libretto, with Dvořák's permission, in 1894, notably in the last act. Dvořák himself revised the music in 1897.
Destiny is an opera in three acts by Leoš Janáček to a Czech libretto by the composer and Fedora Bartošová. Janáček began the work in 1903 and completed it in 1907. The inspiration for the opera came from a visit by Janáček in the summer of 1903, after the death of his daughter Olga, to the spa at Luhačovice. There, Janáček met Kamila Urválková, who had been the subject of an opera by Ludvík Čelanský, Kamila, where she felt that Čelanský had falsely depicted her personality. After learning that Janáček was a composer, Urválková persuaded Janáček to write another opera to counteract Čelanský's portrait of her.
Milnes contributed entries on Massenet and his operas in the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians . He was consultant editor for the Viking Opera Guide, and revised and updated A Concise History of Opera in 1987. He was a contributor to Opera on Record Vol 1 ( Carmen ), Vol 2 ( Thaïs and Don Quichotte ) and Vol 3 (The stage works of Weill).
For BBC radio he was a regular contributor to the Building a Library feature in Record Review; in Just the partand In Repertory he talked to opera singers about particular roles they have made their own, and in 2001 introduced a 14-part series Performing Verdi .
Milnes was a Knight of the Order of the White Rose; in January 2002 he was awarded an OBE for services to journalism and music. He spent his final years in Gloucestershire to live near his sister. He was unmarried.
Jules Émile Frédéric Massenet was a French composer of the Romantic era best known for his operas, of which he wrote more than thirty. The two most frequently staged are Manon (1884) and Werther (1892). He also composed oratorios, ballets, orchestral works, incidental music, piano pieces, songs and other music.
Charles Louis Ambroise Thomas was a French composer and teacher, best known for his operas Mignon (1866) and Hamlet (1868).
The history of opera in the English language commences in the 17th century.
The Opéra-Comique is a Parisian opera company, which was founded around 1714 by some of the popular theatres of the Parisian fairs. In 1762 the company was merged with, and for a time took the name of its chief rival the Comédie-Italienne at the Hôtel de Bourgogne, and was also called the Théâtre-Italien up to about 1793, when it again became most commonly known as the Opéra-Comique. Today the company's official name is Théâtre national de l'Opéra-Comique, and its theatre, with a capacity of around 1,248 seats, sometimes referred to as the Salle Favart, is located in Place Boïeldieu, in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris, not far from the Palais Garnier, one of the theatres of the Paris Opéra. The musicians and others associated with the Opéra-Comique have made important contributions to operatic history and tradition in France, and to French opera. Its current mission is to reconnect with its history, and discover its unique repertoire, to ensure production and dissemination of operas for the wider public. Mainstays of the repertory at the Opéra-Comique during its history have included the following works which have each been performed more than 1,000 times by the company: Cavalleria Rusticana, Le chalet, La dame blanche, Le domino noir, La fille du régiment, Lakmé, Manon, Mignon, Les noces de Jeannette, Le pré aux clercs, Tosca, La bohème, Werther and Carmen, the last having been performed more than 2,500 times.
Sir Geraint Llewellyn Evans was a Welsh bass-baritone noted for operatic roles including Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, and the title roles in Falstaff and Wozzeck. He sang more than 70 different roles in a career that lasted from his first appearance at Covent Garden in 1948 to his farewell there in 1984.
Stanley John Sadie was an influential and prolific British musicologist, music critic, and editor. He was editor of the sixth edition of the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980), which was published as the first edition of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
Don Quichotte is an opera in five acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Henri Caïn. It was first performed on 19 February 1910 at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo.
Le Cid is an opera in four acts and ten tableaux by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Louis Gallet, Édouard Blau and Adolphe d'Ennery. It is based on the play of the same name by Pierre Corneille.
Antony and Cleopatra, Op. 40, is an opera in three acts by American composer Samuel Barber. The libretto was prepared by Franco Zeffirelli. It was based on the play Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare and made use of Shakespeare's language exclusively.
Harold David Rosenthal OBE was an English music critic, writer, lecturer, and broadcaster about opera. Originally a schoolmaster, he became drawn to music, particularly opera, and began working on musical publications. On the foundation of Opera magazine in London in 1950, Rosenthal was assistant editor, and became editor in 1953, retaining the post until 1986.
Gabriel Bacquier is a French operatic baritone. One of the leading baritones of the 20th century and particularly associated with the French and Italian repertories, he is considered a fine singing-actor equally at home in dramatic or comic roles.
Julian Medforth Budden was a British opera scholar, radio producer and broadcaster. He is particularly known for his three volumes on the operas of Giuseppe Verdi, a single-volume biography in 1982 and a single-volume work on Giacomo Puccini and his operas in 2002. He is also the author of numerous entries in the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
Mosco Carner was an Austrian-born British musicologist, conductor and critic. He wrote on a wide range of music subjects, but was particularly known for his studies on the life and works of the composers Giacomo Puccini and Alban Berg.
Christopher Webber is an English actor, dramatist, theatre director, writer and music critic.
John Barry Steane was an English music critic, musicologist, literary scholar and teacher, with a particular interest in singing and the human voice. His 36-year career as a schoolmaster overlapped with his career as a music critic and author of books on Elizabethan drama, and opera and concert singers.
Andrew Brian Porter was a British music critic, scholar, organist and opera director.
William Somervell Mann was an English music critic. Born in India, he was educated at Winchester and Cambridge, studying music with several prominent composers, before taking up a career as a critic.
John Cox is an English opera director. Born in Bristol, he was educated at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and trained at Glyndebourne as assistant to Carl Ebert, and then at the York Theatre Royal and BBC television, made his directing debut with Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges for the Sadler's Wells company in 1965.
Sonya Haddad was a libretto translator and surtitler for the Metropolitan Opera in New York.