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Classical Crib Sheet: Top 5 Stories This Week

The real Joyce Hatto, pre-scandal, with condutor Martin Fogel and composer Walter Gaze Cooper at the piano in 1954.
Fred Ramage
Getty Images
The real Joyce Hatto, pre-scandal, with condutor Martin Fogel and composer Walter Gaze Cooper at the piano in 1954.
  • This week, BBC One premiered a made-for-TV treatment of the Joyce Hatto scandal called "Loving Miss Hatto," with Francesca Annis and Alfred Molina as the leads. Remember her? Her husband/maybe mastermind/maybe accomplice, William Barrington-Coupe, released scores of "her" piano recordings that were actually stolen from other, better-known artists, but trumpeted her as an unknown master. Five years ago, the whole scam began unraveling when one of my old Gramophone colleagues popped one of the "Hatto" CDs into iTunes — and Gracenote revealed that it wasn't her playing at all. Hooray for technology. If you're in the UK, you can watch the whole thing online until Dec. 30.
  • My old boss at Gramophone, James Inverne, has a piece about the incident in the London Times that's stuck behind a paywall. In the meantime, however, James would very much like you to know that in the BBC prod he's played by Young Sherlock Holmes, aka Nicholas Rowe. (They do look a bit alike.)
  • What's the best classical music app? Over at Slate, Seth Colter Walls says it's the Philharmonia Orchestra's plainly named The Orchestra: "At $13.99, it's not only one of the best albums — you know, a longish compilation of music — you could purchase for someone this holiday season; it's an app that could easily change how you consume classical music outside of the concert hall. Or how we introduce new listeners to symphonic works in the first place ... the best thing about the app is its synchronous way of making you feel and see various musical values at once."
  • After a rather alarming showing in his third night at the Met singing Berlioz' epic Les Troyens, tenor Marcello Giordani announced that he was retiring the role of Aeneas, effective immediately. Bryan Hymel will be taking over for the rest of the run, including the Jan. 5 matinee that will be simulcast to movie theaters around the world.
  • The CBS affiliate in Minneapolis has a report that local lawmakers are calling for a hearing into the truthfulness of the Minnesota Orchestra's claims that they were financially stable — and to discern whether or not any government money has been used to fund the musicians' lockout.
  • Classical geek? Keep going...

  • After 17 months of looking for a buyer, Steinway is off the market, says Reuters. However, Steinway Hall is still up for grabs.
  • Also on the real estate front: Elliott Carter's Greenwich Village apartment. And speaking of Steinways, Carter's piano may be included in the sale, according to the New York Daily News.
  • A new biography of Benjamin Britten reveals that the original version of his opera The Rape of Lucretia was deemed obscene, says the Telegraph. Wrote a government censor in 1946: "I most certainly think we should draw the line at the somewhat transparent effort by the Chorus on page 5 of Act II to wrap up an ugly fact in pretty language. It is little better than the obscenities in Lady Chatterley's Lover." (The passage in question diverged from Britten's Shakespeare source, and implied that Lucretia was not actually raped, but was a willing participant.)
  • And since we're only now on the fourth day of Christmas, here's an All Things Considered piece you probably missed on Christmas Day, regarding the darkness of the original Nutcracker before it acquired its candy sheen. No sugar plums here.
  • Rob Deemer has a piece on NewMusicBox about a current mini-campaign to get a searchable classical composers field inside the Spotify database. (Good luck with that, because this essay and the effort itself both ignore one huge, fundamental and still totally unsolved problem in classical music digital sales that would preclude Spotify from following through: the lack of good metadata, which remains a much bigger problem.)
  • The music director and prioress on the best-selling Advent at Ephesus album, made by a group of Benedictine nuns from Missouri, is a former French horn player for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.
  • This doesn't need to exist but does anyway: an operatic treatment of "Gangnam Style," courtesy of Radio-Television of Slovenia.
  • Speaking of which, and admittedly only tangentially music-related: the populace of Hong Kong is gearing up — or bracing — for the arrival of something called a "Cheesy Opera Pizza" at the local Pizza Huts. It's a pizza atop another pizza, and The Huffington Post tells us much more: "[It's] a doozy, so pay close attention. All versions of the offering feature a pizza base with a 'Twisted' cheese crust topped with chicken, ham, beef, pork, tomato, oregano with a red onion on tomato, which is then topped with a smaller, thin crust pizza with one of two topping combinations. One is the 'Cheesy Opera Pizza,' which comes with smoked Canadian ham, beef, pork, pepperoni, Japanese cucumber, mushroom, pineapple, green pepper and black olives on tomato sauce. The other, the 'Cheesy Opera Pizza with Scallop,' sounds a bit funkier to us — it comes topped with scallop, clam meat, Japanese cucumber, mushroom, peach and red pepper on pesto sauce with a swirl of honey mustard sauce. Do either of those options sound appetizing to you? We're not so sure they do to us. And why are they called "Cheesy Opera" pizzas? We're at a loss." What could make this better? Special guacamolito sauce.
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    Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.
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