December 3, 2013
It was exciting to be there at the promising beginning of Hamburg's fairytale Herzog & de Meuron concert hall almost five years ago, but until last week, there was nothing but trouble there and talk about a scandalous white elephant, with three years of delay (three more to go) and a cost overrun of 500% — to about $770 million.
The project was at a standstill for a half-year over a three-way dispute between the city, the construction company, and architects. Work is ongoing again, and one day the project may be completed.
But meanwhile: Miniatur Wunderland, a miniature version of Elbphilharmonie, has been created, and after troubles of its own, "after just 364 days of construction, and mere 350,000 Euro building costs, the Elbphilharmonie and 10 selected buildings in the HafenCity can be marvelled at on an area of 70,000 square centimetres."
If and when the real thing is completed, it will serve as the main venue for Hamburg's associated Opera and Philharmonic. And there we will find million-mile flyer maestro Kent Nagano, 62, from Morro Bay, San Francisco, and Berkeley, most recently of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. He is named Hamburg State Opera's general music director and chief conductor, effective with the 2015-2016 season, after current General Director Simone Young (who is in charge of both organizations) leaves.
Meanwhile, Nagano remains music director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, with a new position in Sweden as principal guest conductor and artistic advisor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, a position filled until last year by Gustavo Dudamel. The orchestra does not have a music director.