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.
Milnes was 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.
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.
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.
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:
Milnes translated opera librettos under his original name, including Rusalka , The Jacobin , Osud , Don Chischiotte, Pollicino, Undine , Giovanna d'Arco , Die drei Pintos and Tannhäuser .
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.
The Mikado; or, The Town of Titipu is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert, their ninth of fourteen operatic collaborations. It opened on 14 March 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances, the second-longest run for any work of musical theatre and one of the longest runs of any theatre piece up to that time. By the end of 1885, it was estimated that, in Europe and America, at least 150 companies were producing the opera.
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.
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.
Owen Brannigan OBE was an English bass, known in opera for buffo roles and in concert for a wide range of solo parts in music ranging from Henry Purcell to Michael Tippett. He is best remembered for his roles in Mozart and Britten operas and for his recordings of roles in Britten, Offenbach and Gilbert and Sullivan operas, as well as recordings of English folk songs.
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 was a French operatic baritone. One of the leading baritones of the 20th century and particularly associated with the French and Italian repertoires, he was considered a fine singing actor equally at home in dramatic or comic roles and gave regular song recitals. He was a long-term member of the Opéra-Comique and the Paris Opera, but forged a long career internationally at leading opera houses in Europe and the U.S. His large discography spans five decades, and he was considered as “the ambassador of French song”.
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.
Christopher Webber is an English musicologist, dramatist, actor, theatre director and writer.
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.
Jane Marian Manning OBE was an English concert and opera soprano, writer on music, and visiting professor at the Royal College of Music. A specialist in contemporary classical music, she was described by one critic as "the irrepressible, incomparable, unstoppable Ms. Manning – life and soul of British contemporary music".
Rupert Christiansen is an English writer, journalist and critic.
Andrew Brian Porter was a British music critic, opera librettist, opera director, scholar, and organist.
Lucy Arbell, was a French mezzo-soprano whose operatic career was mainly centred in Paris and who was particularly associated with the composer Jules Massenet.
Dennis Drew Arundell OBE was a British actor, librettist, opera scholar, translator, producer, director, conductor and composer of incidental music.
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.