Falstaff in Frankfurt on September 23, 2016

operfrankfurtlogoFalstaff

Giuseppe Verdi 1813-1901

Commedia lirica in three acts
Libretto by Arrigo Boito based on Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor (1597) and King Henry IV (1597)
first performed February 9th 1893, Teatro alla Scala, Milan

Sung in Italian with German surtitles, c. 2hrs 45 mins, including one intervalfalstaff6

Sep 2016
Friday 23; Thursday 29.
Oct 2016
Sunday 02; Friday 07; Sunday 09; Saturday 15.

ARTISTIC TEAM

Conductor Julia Jones

Director Keith Warner

Revival rehearsed by Dorothea Kirschbaum

Stage Designer Boris Kudlička

Costume Designer Kaspar Glarner

Lighting Designer Davy Cunningham

Chorus Master Markus Ehmann

Dramaturge Norbert Abels

Cast

Sir John Falstaff Željko Lučić
Ford James Rutherford
Fenton Martin Mitterrutzner
Nannetta, Elizabeth Reiter/Kateryna Kasper
Alice Ford Jessica Strong
Meg Page Paula Murrihy / Claudia Mahnke
Mrs Quickly Anna Larsson
Dr Cajus Hans-Jürgen Schöpflin
Bardolfo, Falstaff’s servant Ralf Simon
Pistola, Falstaff’s servant Barnaby Rea

It is hard to believe: with his 28th, and last opera, 80 year old Verdi reinvented himself again. Leaving all 19th century Italian operatic conventions behind, he had fun with them and quotes from his own works and some of his antipode, Richard Wagner. Seven years earlier Verdi had allowed himself to be seduced by Arrigo Boito into composing another opera based on Shakespeare – Otello. Keith Warner directed the work with light hand in a versatile stage design based on the Globe Theatre on the banks of the Thames. In the end the fat knight Sir John, who was made to look a fool to pay him back for trying to court two married ladies in the hope of getting himself out of a tight financial corner, starts off the closing fugue: »Everything in the world is a joke.«

GALLERY

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zeljkoŽeljko Lučić

Željko Lučić, a native of Serbia, continues to garner acclaim for his performances of the dramatic baritone repertoire in the world’s leading opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, San Francisco Opera, and L’Opéra National de Paris. For his appearance in La forza del destino with San Francisco Opera, the Financial Times declared, “with this Don Carlo, Željko Lučić served notice that he is one of today’s pre-eminent Verdi baritones.” In the 2015-16 season Lyric Opera of Chicago audiences will hear him in the title role of Nabucco, and he returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Scarpia in Tosca, Iago in Otello (also HD broadcast) and the title role of Rigoletto. In summer 2015 he sang Scarpia at Teatro alla Scala.  zeljko1

In season 2014-15 he reprised the title role of Macbeth and sang Amonasro in Aida at the Met; reprised the role of Gérard in David McVicar’s new production of Andrea Chénier at the Royal Opera House, broadcast cinematically worldwide; and stepped into the title role of Nabucco with Wiener Staatsoper. His 2013-14 season engagements included Germont in La traviata with Diana Damrau, also Amonasro in Aida in returns to Teatro alla Scala; and his return to the Metropolitan Opera as Gerard in Giordano’s Andrea Chénier. Other European engagements included Scarpia in Tosca and the title role in Nabucco with Wiener Staatsoper; Iago in Otello with Opernhaus Zurich; the title role in Falstaff with Stadtische Bühnen Frankfurt; the title role in Simon Boccanegra with Semperoper Dresden; and Scarpia with Bayerische Staatsoper. In 2012-13 he sang the title role in Rigoletto for the Metropolitan Opera’s new production, for San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Teatro all Scala, title roles in Simon Boccanegra and Macbeth in returns to Bayerische Staatsoper, and Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera in a return to Teatro alla Scala.

In Otello at the Metropolitan Opera. Photo by Ken Howard

In Otello at the Metropolitan Opera. Photo by Ken Howard

Recent successes include Rigoletto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, under Gustavo Dudamel, his return to the Metropolitan Opera in the title role of Nabucco; to Stadtische Bühnen Frankfurt as Scarpia in Tosca and Iago in Otello; to Opéra de Paris in the title role of Rigoletto, also to Oper Köln in the same role; to Bayerische Staatsoper (Munich) as Miller in Luisa Miller; to Wiener Staatsoper as Germont in La traviata and Scarpia in Tosca; and making his Salzburger Festspiele debut in the title role of Macbeth in a new production directed by Peter Stein, conducted by Riccardo Muti. After his monumental success as the title role in the Metropolitan Opera’s live, international HD broadcast production of Macbeth, Željko Lučić returned to sing the title role in Rigoletto, Germont in La traviata, Di Luna in Il trovatore, the title role in Rigoletto, Enrico in the company’s Japan tour of Lucia di Lammermoor,and Michele in Il tabarro.

Internationally, he has performed the role of Scarpia in Tosca at Teatro alla Scala, Don Carlos in La forza del destino with Wiener Staatsoper, Miller in Luisa Miller with Bayerische Staatsoper, the title role in Nabucco with both Wiener Staatsoper and Oper Frankfurt; Don Carlo in Ernani with Asociacíon Bilbaína de Amigos de la Opera; the title role in Simon Boccanegra with Oper Frankfurt; Iago in Otello with Deutsche Oper Berlin; and Germont in La traviata with Royal Opera House: Covent Garden. Other successes include the title role in Macbeth, Miller in Luisa Miller, and Germont in La traviata with the Bayerische Staatsoper; a return to Oper Frankfurt to perform as Rodrigo in Don Carlo in a gala concert, as well as Zurga in Les Pêcheurs de perles; and the title role in Rigoletto for Teatro Real in Madrid. He has also performed at the annual Richard Tucker Gala in New York City.

Mr. Lučić’s many return engagements in recent seasons included the Wiener Staatsoper to sing the role of Germont; Staatsoper Dresden as the title role in Rigoletto; and Oper Frankfurt as the title roles in Simon Boccanegra and Macbeth, Iago in concert performances of Otello, Michele in Il tabarro, and the title role in Gianni Schicchi. He also performed the title role in Macbeth at both Bayerische Staatsoper and Amigos de la Opera in Coruña, Spain and performed the title role in Nabucco in Zagreb.zeljko2

Other successes include his Metropolitan Opera debut as Barnaba in La Gioconda, his performance with Dallas Opera as the title role in Nabucco, with Bayerische Staatsoper as Don Carlo in La forza del destino and with Wiener Staatsoper as Germont in La traviata. He appeared with Oper Frankfurt as the title role in Simon Boccanegra, Renato in Un ballo in maschera, and Yeletsky in Pique Dame. In the summer of 2007, he made his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut at Tanglewood as Rodrigo in a concert performance of Don Carlo under James Levine, and sang Amonasro in Aida for Staatsoper Dresden.

Mr. Lučić made an unscheduled debut with L’Opéra National de Paris singing Count di Luna for the opening of the new Francesca Zambello production of Il trovatore. He has also sung at Bregenz Festival, Hamburgische Staatsoper, and with Oper Frankfurt. He returned to San Francisco Opera to sing Don Carlo in La forza del destino after his debut with the company as Germont in La traviata – a role he has also sung at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, the Grand Théâtre de la Ville de Luxembourg, and the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.  zeljko-lucic

Željko Lučić’s extensive performance repertoire also includes Lescaut in Manon Lescaut with Bayerische Staatsoper; Guy de Montfort in Les Vêpres siciliennes with Radio Filharmonisch Orkest at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw; Sharpless in Madama Butterfly at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, Semperoper Dresden, and Oper Frankfurt; and both the title role in Eugene Onegin, and Graf von Nevers in Les Huguenots with Oper Frankfurt. He has also appeared with many orchestras, including the Hessischer Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra, Belgrade Filharmony, and RTB Symphony Orchestra.

(Biography by Barrett Artists)

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La Traviata at the Estonian National Opera on September 10, 2016

traviataEstonia

An opera by Giuseppe Verdi

Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, based on the play by Alexandre Dumas fils La dame aux camélias
Revival on October 29, 2009

traviataEstonia1The timeless opera classics La traviata has become one of the most beloved operas in the whole world. It is also one of the most frequently performed operas at the Estonian National Opera to which the audience has applauded in seven premieres within nearly a hundred years.

The play by Dumas fils was published in 1849 and staged in 1852. Giuseppe Verdi, who attended the premiere, was so fascinated by the play that he based his opera La traviata on it. La traviata premiered the next year. It is a moving love story haunted by the morality of society and Violetta’s past. Ephemeral happiness ends in tragedy.

  • Sung in Italian with subtitles in Estonian and English (available in the Estonia Theatre Hall)
  • Approx. running time 3 h, two intermissionstraviataEstonia2

Staging team

Conductors:conductors

Stage Director: Neeme Kuningas

Designer: Anna Kontek (Finland)

Lighting Designer: Esko Suhonen (Finland)traviataEstonia3

DATES

10 September 2016 / 19:00
 2 October 2016 / 17:00
3 November 2016 / 19:00
7 June 2017 / 19:00
20 June 2017 / 19:00

Synopsis

ACT ONE

In the Salon in the house of Violetta Valéry, a fascinating and much-wooed courtesan in fashionable Parisian society, a sumptuous reception is in progress. Among the last guests to arrive, after gambling at cards in the house of Flora Bervoix, Viscount Gaston de Letorières introduces Violetta to Alfredo Germont, who is a fervent admirer of hers: so deeply in love, confides Gaston, that when she was recently ill he came each day to enquire secretly after her health. Violetta, touched by this unusual devotion, amiably dispels the young man’s shyness. Encouraged by his friends, Alfredo improvises a toast to beauty and to the joy of life. After supper, as the guests move off towards the ballroom, Violetta has a sudden fit of coughing. Alfredo, who is alone with her, begs her fondly to take more care of her health, assuring her that he would know how to look after her jealously. And tenderly he declares his love to her. Violetta is surprised and feigns indifference, replying that he will receive only friendship from her. Inwardly, however, she is perturbed by this confession. Plucking a flower from her bosom, she offers it to Alfredo for him to bring back when it has withered. Exultantly he takes it to mean an invitation to return the following day. Dawn has risen and the guests take their leave after the dancing. In solitude, Violetta ponders over Alfredo’s words of love. For the first time, someone has expressed a sincere affection for her. Accustomed to spend her life among fleeting joys and worldly pleasures, should she take him seriously, and change her way of life? No, she resolves not to pursue this foolish illusion. Though deep in her heart she feels that their love must be true.

Caramba (Luigi Sapelli, 1865-1936), figurini (Violetta, Alfredo) per la ripresa scaligera del 1906, la prima in costumi moderni. Cantavano Rosina Storchio (Violetta; 1876-1945; la prima Mimì e Zazà per Leoncavallo, e la prima Butterfly), Leonida Sobinov (Alfredo; 1872-1934), Riccardo Stracciari (Germont; 1875-1955).

Caramba (Luigi Sapelli, 1865-1936), costumes (Violetta, Alfredo) for the Verona premiere of 1906, the first one with modern costumes. The performers were Leonida Sobinov (Alfredo; 1872-1934), Riccardo Stracciari (Germont; 1875-1955), and Rosina Storchio (Violetta; 1876-1945), who was the first Mimì, but also the first Zazà for Leoncavallo, and the first Butterfly.

ACT TWO

Scene one

In a country house near Paris Violetta and Alfredo are spending an idyllic life together, far from the social whirl of the capital. Alfredo expresses the fullness of his joy at this delightful situation, which has lasted now for three months. But the spell is unexpectedly broken by Annina, the maid, who tells him she has been to Paris upon Violetta’s orders, to sell jewels, horses and property to pay for the expenses of their stay in the country. Alfredo’s pride is hurted and he decides to leave at once in order to settle these affairs personally. Violetta enters. She is reading a letter from Flora, who has discovered the lovers’ retreat and invites her friend to a reception that same evening. Let her wait in vain, smiles Violetta. In the meantime a visit is announced. Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father, introduces himself to Violetta with a contemptuous air, convinced that the woman is being kept by his son. Proudly Violetta shows Germont the deed of sale of her estate. Germont is favourably impressed by this gesture. However he asks her on the strength of her affection, to renounce Alfredo in order not to ruin the happiness of another member of his family, his daughter, whose marriage with a young man «of good family» is liable to fall through unless her brother’s scandalous liaison is broken off. Violetta claims the rights of her love, telling Germont of her serious state of health, and desperately resists his pressing requests. But in the end she yields. In resignation she agrees to sacrifice her own happiness for the sake of Alfredo and his loved ones. She promises Germont, who is deeply moved, to face her immense sorrow alone and never to reveal to Alfredo why she has deserted him so precipitately. She is on the point of writing him a farewell letter when Alfredo himself appears and asks the reason for her strange uneasiness. Violetta answers with a heartrending cry of love, before hastening away. Later she sends him a note saying that she has decided to return to her former society life and old friends. Alfredo is deeply shaken. Germont arrives, but his fond words of consolation are of no avail, even though he reminds his son of the peaceful times spent in their native Provence, where he invites him to savour once again the warmth of family affection.

Scene two

In a hall in the house of Flora Bervoix. A masked ball is in full swing. Violetta is in attendanceon the arm of Baron Douphol, her former protector. Not expecting to find Alfredo there,she is upset on seeing him, but he pretends to take no notice. He makes for the card tables, wherehe wins with shameless luck, while provoking Douphol’s resentment with vague allusions. The announcementof dinner prevents a quarrel, and the guests move into the dining room. Alfredo re-entersimmediately, having received an invitation from Violetta to talk with her. She implores him to leave and not to incur the baron’s wrath. Also, she confesses, if he would but realize, she fears most of all for his own life. But Alfredo replies that he will leave only if she will follow him. Violetta is compelled to reveal that she has sworn never to see him again. But since Alfredo insists on knowing who has had the right to impose this oath upon her, she allows him to understand that it was the Baron. Beside himself with jealousy and despair, Alfredo summons the guests. Confessing his shame at having allowed a woman to squander her fortune for him, he flings at Violetta’s feet a purse full of money, proclaiming that he has thus repaid her. Violetta faints, while Alfredo’s gesture is received with general indignation. Germont, who is arrived in the meantime, reproaches his already humiliated and repentant son, and drags him away, followed by Douphol who demands satisfaction for the insult to his partner.

ACT THREE

Violetta, whose illness is by now beyond hope, is being looked after by the faithful Annina. It is a grey winter’s morning. Doctor Grenvil arrives and tries so instil hope and courage into his patient, but confesses to Annina that the end is near. Violetta once again re-reads the affectionate letter received from Germont, in which he thanks her for having kept her promise. He also informs her that the Baron was wounded in the duel and that he has at last revealed the truth to Alfredo, who is now on his way to visit her to beg forgiveness. A echo of carnival music and revelry rise from the street, Violetta gazes mournfully her pale image in the looking-glass and her heart breaks when she remembers the happy months spent with her lover. But now Annina enters to prepare her for a great emotion, followed at once by Alfredo, who throws himself into Violetta’s arms. Together they dream once again of a radiant future. Blissfully happy, Violetta would like to get dressed and go out into the festive city. But her strength fails her and she realizes she has not much longer to live. As Germont, who has joined his son, now clasps her to his heart like a daughter, she gives Alfredo a portrait of their happy years, begging him to keep it in memory of her who has loved him so deeply, and to offer it one day to the young woman who will be his future wife: on the stage Annina and Doctor Grenvil too. Suddenly she feels lifted by a mysterious force. Rising in one last longing for life, she falls back dead in Alfredo’s arms.

GALLERY

FOCUS ON:

velloVello Pähn,   Conductor

Estonian-born conductor Vello Pähn studied at the Tallinn Conservatory in St. Petersburg. During that time he was also engaged at the Estonian State Theatre where he conducted a broad range of operatic repertoire including Carmen, Madame Butterfly, La Traviata, Hovanštšina, L’Elisir d’amore, Duenja, Eugene Onegin  and  Le  Nozze  di Figaro, before launching an international career.
Vello Pähn’s collaboration with the legendary dancer Rudolf Nureyev and the choreographer John Neumeier led to invitations from the world’s leading theatres and ballet companies. His command of the standard ballet repertoire, Cinderella, Le sacre du printemps, Othello, Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Onegin, and so on, has made him a house favourite at the Paris National Opera and Hamburg Ballet for over  two  decades.  In  autumn  2010,  he  conducted  Swan Lake at the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen and Finnish National Opera in Helsinki. In Copenhagen he returned with the opera Carmen in autumn 2012. Equally in demand as an opera conductor, Mr.  Pähn  made  his  debut  at  the  Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finland with Flying Dutchman and went on tour with this production in Spain. Vello Pähn returned to Savonlinna to conduct Gounod’s opera Faust. He has recently worked at the Berlin State Opera with Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly, Donizetti’s Elisir d’Amore and in Yekaterinburg with a rare Rimsky-Korsakov opera Snow Maiden.

For many years Maestro Pähn has been frequently  invited to many major German opera houses, including the Dresden Semperoper, Berlin State Opera, Stuttgart and Leipzig opera houses and of course not excluding elsewhere in Europe – the Vienna State Opera and La Scala in Milan. His engagements included performances in St. Petersburg with the Hamburg Ballet as well as a production based on Sergei Prokofiev’s Ivan le Terrible in Paris. He also led the revival of Savonlinna Opera Festival’s Flying Dutchman on a tour to the Hedeland Festival in Denmark and was invited back to Vienna for Manon.

Maestro Pähn started as the Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Estonian National Opera in fall 2012, where his first engagement was Faust by Charles Gounod followed by Wagner’s Tannhäuser.
In autumn 2013, he conducted the world premiere of Butterfly by the Estonian  composer  Tönu  Körvits,  in  Tallinn.  His  recent  work  in  Tallinn  include Gounod’s Romeo  et  Juliette, Cardillac by  Paul  Hindemith  and  Mozart’s The   Magic Flute and this season he will  conduct Arabella and Aida at  the  Estonian  National  Opera. This season at the Paris National Opera he will conduct over 30 performances of La nuit transfiguree and Le Sacre du printempts. His work as a ballet conductor will continue withsome new projects at the Zurich, Vienna and Paris opera houses.                 [www.opera-connection.com]

 

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La Scala’s production of Simon Boccanegra at the Bolshoi

 

Simon Boccanegra

Opera in three acts with a prologue
Teatro alla Scala scala_logo
International Chereshnevy Les Open-Art Festival presents

Historic Stage
September 10, 13, 16
Teatro alla Scala and Staatsoper, Berlin co-productionPremiered at theTeatro alla Scala on October 31, 2014Running time: 3 hours General Sponsor of the Tour

Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave and Arrigo Boito

Conductor: Myung-Whun Chung
Director: Federico Tiezzi
Sets: Pier Paolo Bisleri
Costumes: Giovanna Buzzi
Lights: Marco Filibeck
Chorus Master: Bruno Casoni

Simon Boccanegra – Leo Nucci
Jacopo Fiesco – Mikhail Petrenko
Paolo Albiani tba
Pietro – Ernesto Panariello
Maria Boccanegra – Carmen Giannattasio
Gabriele Adorno – Fabio Sartori
Captain of the Crossbowmen – Luigi Albani
Amelia’s maid – Barbara Lavarian

Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro alla Scalasimon2

SYNOPSIS

Prologue

A square in Genoa, near the palace of Jacopo Fiesco and the Church of San Lorenzo. Around 1339.

The silversmith Paolo Albiani obtains support from Pietro for the election of the pirate Simon Boccanegra as the new doge, in exchange for some kind of recompense. Reluctantly Boccanegra accepts this position, hoping it will enable him to become reconciled with his enemy Jacopo Fiesco, as he is in love with his daughter Maria. The couple has a daughter, whom old Fiesco intends to bring up.

Simon runs into Fiesco and tries to convince him that they should forget the confrontations they have had in the past. Fiesco, visibly mourning Maria’s sudden death (which he hides from his rival), is inflexible to any reconciliation. Only if Simon gives him his granddaughter will he agree to it. The pirate explains that the little girl has disappeared and therefore he cannot do as he asks. Fiesco leaves and Simon enters the palace to meet Maria. He is horrified when he discovers Maria’s body. Dawn breaks. The crowd proclaims Simon Boccanegra doge of Genoa.

Act I, Scene I

Twenty-five years have passed. Jacopo Fiesco has changed his name to Andrea Grimaldi to hide his identity, and has brought up and adopted an orphaned girl -of unknown origin- with the name of Amelia Grimaldi. The girl is really Maria Boccanegra, the daughter of Simon Boccanegra and Jacopo Fiesco’s granddaughter.

In the gardens of the Grimaldi Palace, overlooking the sea, Amelia has an amorous rendezvous with the nobleman Gabriele Adorno. She tells him that the doge is about to arrive at the palace to ask for her hand in marriage on behalf of Paolo Albiani, a man trusted by the doge who finds Amelia attractive. So Gabriele gets in before the doge and asks Fiesco for permission to marry Amelia, to which the old man agrees. The doge arrives with Albiani. During his conversation with Amelia, Simon discovers to his surprise that she is his daughter, and that she is in love with Gabriele. He understands the young girl’s feelings and decides not to go ahead with the marriage proposal he had in mind. Albiani is not at all pleased and begins to plot to kidnap Amelia.
Scene II
A chamber in the doge’s Palace in Genoa. The doge, sitting on his throne, presides over a meeting attended by advisers, consuls and condestables from the military. Gabriele bursts into the room, accuses the doge of being responsible for Amelia being kidnapped, and confronts him. But the young girl has managed to escape and she interrupts the meeting to tell her side of the story, clearly proving that Simon has had nothing to do with the matter. All eyes turn to Albiani.

The doge brings order to the disrupted meeting and orders for Fiesco and Gabriele to be sent to prison. At the same time, he exhorts Albiani, who has been his right-hand man up until then, to curse the person guilty of kidnapping Amelia (who is none other than himself).

Act II

A chamber in the doge’s Palace. Albiani, who is planning to kill Simon, offers to set Fiesco and Gabriele free from prison if they help him commit the crime. Fiesco refuses and goes back to prison. Albiani pours poison into the doge’s drink in case his initial plan fails. Really, he wants Gabriele to kill the doge, so he locks him in the chamber so that he will surprise Simon when he enters and kill him. He has previously led Gabriele to believe that Amelia and Simon are lovers. Amelia enters and tries to convince her sweetheart that his suspicions are unfounded. The doge is heard approaching and Gabriele hides on the balcony. Amelia begs her father to forgive Gabriele, the man she loves. The doge agrees and, feeling tired, drinks from the poisoned bottle and falls asleep. Gabriele takes advantage of the situation and tries to kill him. But Amelia stops him, telling him that Simon is her father. The doge forgives his future son-in-law and they go out together to calm the rebellious mob that is gathering at the palace gates.

Act III

The doge has managed to calm the mob and forgives all the conspirators, except for Paolo Albiani, who is sentenced to death. Albiani tells Fiesco that the doge will die within a few hours because he has poisoned him. Simon enters weak and ill. Fiesco reveals his identity and is pleased he can get his revenge at last. When the doge tells him that Amelia Grimaldi is his granddaughter, Fiesco becomes emotional and is reconciled with him. The poison has taken effect, however, and the doge dies, but first he is able to bless the union between his daughter Amelia and Gabriele, and name his son-in-law as the new doge of Genoa. Fiesco goes onto the balcony and tells the crowd that Gabriele Adorno is the new doge, while they all join in prayer for the death of Simon Boccanegra.

GALLERY

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nucci_boccanegra

Leo Nucci is an Italian operatic baritone, particularly suited to Verdi roles. Born at Castiglione dei Pepoli, near Bologna, he studied with Giuseppe Marchese and made his stage debut in Spoleto, as Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, in 1967, he then joined the chorus of La Scala in Milan, and made his solo debut there in 1975, again as Figaro.

He is also a movie actor, known for Macbeth (1987), La traviata (1994) and I vespri siciliani (1986).

 

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Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice at the Norwegian National Opera

Irpheus_titleOrpheus_TOrpheus

logonorway2 hours and 30 minutes/ 1 intermission

  • Performed in Italian/ Texted in English and Norwegian
  • 8 productions / From August 27. to October 9.
  • Premier August 27. 2016 / Main House / Opera

 

Choreographer Jo Strømgren debuted as an opera director in 2013 with Christoph Willibald Gluck’s beautiful version of the myth of giving everything for love. “An exceptionally expressive and beautiful combination of opera and ballet – give us more!” exclaimed VG’s reviewer.

In the autumn of 2016 the successful collaboration between the Norwegian National Opera and Norwegian National Ballet returns, along with conductor and baroque specialist Rinaldo Alessandrini. The role of Orpheus is sung by countertenor David Hansen, who with his crystal-clear and bright male voice pulls Eurydice back from the realm of the dead.

“Simply put, Orpheus is a guy who is truly in love,” says Jo Strømgren. “It’s about making a choice; about going for something.” Orpheus refuses to compromise and dares to give everything.

Life, death and love take concrete forms in Strømgren’s production, in which we join Orpheus on a journey that is simultaneously mental and physical – and which includes a full size Boeing 737.orpheus2

The art of the impossible

The myth of Orpheus has been used by countless composers throughout musical history, from Monteverdi to Terje Rypdal. It is therefore no surprise that this is the opera genre’s favourite story; the myth of Orpheus, who goes to the underworld in order to save his love Eurydice, is about music and the transgressive power of love – about singing so beautifully that the impossible becomes possible.

Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice premiered in Vienna in 1762, as part of the composer’s persistent attempts to reform the opera genre, which he felt had become more about putting on a show and less about true drama. Gluck wanted to get back to the core of what he felt the opera should be – the art of telling stories through music. One of his methods of achieving this was to allow this story of the power of song to be supplemented by dance. The bodies of the dancers are thereby dressed in the music, and the music becomes a narrative in movement. This demonstrates the similarities between opera and ballet – as art forms that we hear with our eyes and see with our ears.orpheus1

CAST

cast1 cast2

cast3

SYNOPSIS

Act 1

Orfeo grieves before the tomb of his wife, Euridice, as a group of mourners place tributes on her grave. Orfeo is touched by their laments, but his sorrow is acute and he asks to be left alone. He calls on the spirit of his beloved wife to hear his despair; then, cursing the gods for having taken Euridice from him, he resolves to descend to Hades and brave the Furies to find her.

As he speaks, Amor, the god of love, appears and announces that the other gods, moved by Orfeo’s despair, will allow him to reclaim his wife from the underworld. There is one condition, however: He must not look at her until they have returned to the upper world. Alone once more, Orfeo can scarcely believe what has happened, but, conquering his fears, he sets out for the infernal regions.Orpheus3

Act 2

At the entrance to the underworld, the Furies who stand guard demand to know the identity of the bold intruder. Orfeo begs them to take pity on his tears. At first they refuse and try to frighten him away. But the Furies at last respond to his eloquent song; when Orfeo repeats his request, they recede, allowing him to approach the gates of hell.

In the Elysian Fields, a group of blessed spirits dances serenely. They depart, and Orfeo enters searching for his wife. Though he pauses to delight in the scene, he says that only the sight of Euridice can ease his grief. The Shades, hearing his plea, lead in Euridice. Orfeo grasps her hand and, taking care not to look at her, begins the journey back to the upper world. Orpheus4

Act 3

Orfeo urges his wife to hurry as he leads her toward the upper world. He has obeyed the gods’ injunction that he must not look at her throughout their journey. Euridice, stopping for a moment to celebrate her reunion with her husband, soon becomes anxious. Why will Orfeo not look at her? Has death faded her beauty? With difficulty Orfeo keeps his face turned away and exhorts his wife to have faith and continue their ascent. Euridice laments that she has been liberated from death only to face the colder fate of unrequited love.

Unable to resist her anguished pleas, Orfeo defies the gods’ command and turns to embrace his wife, who at once breathes a farewell and dies. Overcome with grief and remorse, the Orfeo cries that life has no meaning for him without Euridice. Preparing to take his own life, he resolves to join his wife in death. Before he can do so Amor appears and announces that Orfeo has passed the tests of faith and constancy and restores Euridice to life. The happy couple returns to the upper world, where they are greeted by friends, who perform dances of celebration. Orfeo, Amor and Euridice praise the power of love.

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The Mastersingers of Nuremberg at the Munich Opera Festival

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Opera in three acts

Composer Richard Wagner · Libretto by the composer
In German with German surtitles | New Production

Munich Opernfestspiele (Munich Opera Festival)
Thursday, 28. July 2016
05:00 pm – 10:30 pm
Nationaltheater

Duration est. 5 hours 30 minutes · Intervals between Act 1 and Act 2 (estimated 06:15 pm – 06:55 pm ) between Act 2 and Act 3 (estimated 07:50 pm – 08:30 pm )

Introductory Event: 04:00 PM

Premiere on May 16, 2016

Musical Direction Kirill Petrenko

Production David Bösch

Stage Direction Patrick Bannwart

Costumes Meentje Nielsen

Video Falko Herold

Lights Michael Bauer

Dramaturgy Rainer Karlitschek

Choir Sören Eckhoff

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Hans Sachs
Wolfgang Koch
Veit Pogner
Christof Fischesser
Kunz Vogelgesang
Kevin Conners
Konrad Nachtigall
Christian Rieger
Sixtus Beckmesser
Martin Gantner
Fritz Kothner
Eike Wilm Schulte
Balthasar Zorn
Ulrich Reß
Ulrich Eißlinger
Stefan Heibach
Augustin Moser
Thorsten Scharnke
Hermann Ortel
Friedemann Röhlig
Hans Schwarz
Peter Lobert
Hans Foltz
Dennis Wilgenhof
Walther von Stolzing
Jonas Kaufmann
David
Benjamin Bruns
Eva
Sara Jakubiak
Magdalene
Okka von der Damerau
Nachtwächter
Tareq Nazmi
Extra-Chor
Extra Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper
  • Bayerisches Staatsorchester
  • Chorus of the Bayerische Staatsoper

GALLERY 1 (Photo copyright Bayerische Opera)

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SYNOPSIS

Act One

Eva, the daughter of Veit Pogner, a rich goldsmith, has fallen in love with the young knight Walther von Stolzing. The latter initially came to Nuremberg to do business with her father and has now also fallen deeply in love with her. At the moment, however, there seems to be no chance of them marrying: in order to be accepted into society in the town, Stolzing would have to becomea master in a guild. Without further ado he has therefore decided to join the mastersingers, the guild richest in tradition. However David, Hans Sachs’ apprentice, points out to him just how complicated it is to understand and apply all the rules of composition of a mastersong.
There is a conflict smouldering within the guild of the mastersingers,which has long since passed its heyday: Sachs has been pleading for sometime for the decision about the winner of the annual competition to rest with the people at the festival. This would promote the acceptance of the guild. The majority of the masters, however, led by Fritz Kothner and Sixtus Beckmesser, fear that the strict rules would then be of little value and oppose Sachs’ suggestion.
Pogner suggests another way in which to make the mastersingers more popular: he has decided that his only daughter, Eva, will marry the winner ofthis year’s competition. Beckmesser, the town clerk, already sees himself as the winner – thinking that he will be the only participant in the competition. Stolzing, however, now becomes a further candidate. In order to be allowed to marry Eva, he wants to audition to become a member of the guild by performinga song. It is, however, up to Beckmesser, the mastersingers’ marker,to judge Stolzing’s song and thus decide whether he should be allowed to join the guild. Before the knight has even finished singing, Beckmesser, obviously biassed, has convinced the other mastersingers that Stolzing’s song has been faulty. Stolzing’s singing is completely lost against the background of the commotion caused by Beckmesser’s strict insistence on abiding by the rules. Only Hans Sachs, the cobbler, supports Stolzing’s song. He points out that Stolzing has sung in accordance with new rules, entirely his own, but that his song was by no means faulty. Stolzing is nevertheless rejected.

Act Two

In the evening, Hans Sachs reflects on the song Stolzing sang – he does not knowof any rules in accordance with which he could have assessed the song. He doesnot only recognise what is new in Stolzing’s singing but also the love which exists between him and Eva. Sachs himself feels he is too old to marry Eva.
Pogner is also brooding over the muddled situation. Although he would have nothing against the knight as a son-in-law, he cannot grant his daughter her wish. He is bound by his own promise in connection with the competition. He hopes that Sachs will come up with a way out of the dilemma. Eva and Stolzing, meanwhile, are considering how they can make a future together at all possible.
Supposedly their only chance is to elope.
Sixtus Beckmesser still has hopes of marrying into the goldsmith’s family.He comes to Eva’s window to sing to her the song he will be performing at the competition. But the woman he thinks is young Eva is in fact Eva’s companion Magdalene in disguise. Whilst the town clerk falls into raptures to the accompaniment of his lute, his song is interrupted by Hans Sachs at his cobbling. In return for Beckmesser’s behaviour towards Stolzing at the audition, Sachs now comments on Beckmesser’s verses by beating the soles of the shoes with a hammer. The sound of the lute, the singing and the beating of the hammer bring people on to the scene who begin to quarrel. It soon turns into a general melée in which Hans Sachs is able to prevent Eva and Stolzing from eloping and Beckmesser is beaten by the apprentice David, Magdalene’s suitor. Only when the nightwatchman’s call is heard is order restored to the town.

Act Three

Next morning, Sachs is reflecting on the ‘madness’ of the world. During the night he has rescued Stolzing, of whose talent he is convinced, from the fightingand taken him home. When Stolzing tells him about his dream, Sachs encourages him to use it to create a mastersong which will stand firm against the rules of the mastersingers. After some initial hesitation, Stolzing begins to sing and, as if by itself, the right form emerges. Sachs is delighted and writes the notes down immediately, seeing straight away that the song is in accordance with the rules.
Beckmesser, however, coming to complain to the cobbler about hisshoes, discovers the pages in Sachs’ handwriting and accuses Sachs of being his rival for Eva’s hand. Sachs assures him that this is not the case and lets Beckmesser have the song. The marker leaves, delighted, as he thinks that he can no longer lose with a song by Hans Sachs.
Eva also comes to see the cobbler and asks him for advice. Although Sachs has feelings for her he renounces them in favour of the love that binds Eva and Stolzing. When the knight also comes in and performs yet another verse of his mastersong, Sachs organizes a symbolic christening of it. In a peaceful moment Sachs, Eva, Stolzing, David, who has quickly been named a journeyman, and his future bride Magdalene give voice to their happiness in song.
Meanwhile the people have gathered for the competition on St John’s Day. Beckmesser starts to sing the song Sachs gave him but is unable to read Sachs’ handwriting. He mangles the words, alters the meaning, imposes his own melody on the song and thus becomes a figure of fun for everyone. He throws the paper down angrily and explains that Sachs is the composer ofthe song. The cobbler rejects the reproach and calls for Walther von Stolzing, who will show by singing it correctly that he is the composer of the song. Stolzing’s performance wins the approval of both the people and the mastersingers. The latter solemnly announce that the knight has been accepted as a member of the guild, but he wants to decline the offer. Sachs urges the young poet not to forget the importance of tradition and to respect the experience of the masters. The scene ends with all the people and the mastersingers acclaiming Hans Sachs.

GALLERY 2 (Photo copyright Bayerische Opera)

FOCUS ON….:

krillKirill Petrenko was born in Omsk in 1972 where he studied piano at the College of Music. At the age of eleven he gave his first public performance as a pianist with the Omsk Symphony Orchestra. In 1990 his family (his father a violinist and his mother a musicologist) relocated to Vorarlberg where his father worked as an orchestra musician and music teacher. Petrenko first continued his studies in Feldkirch before moving to Vienna to study conducting at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts.

His first job after graduation took him directly to the Vienna Volksoper where he was hired by Nikolaus Bachler as Kapellmeister. From 1999 until 2002 Kirill Petrenko was General Music Director at the Meininger Theater. It was in 2001 in his role as conductor of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, in the production by Christine Mielitz and with scenery by Alfred Hrdlicka, that he first achieved international acclaim. In 2002 Kirill Petrenko became General Music Director of the Komische Oper Berlin where, until 2007, he was credited with a series of highly significant productions.Kirill-Petrenko1

During his time in Meiningen and Berlin his international career also began to flourish. In 2000 Kirill Petrenko made his debut at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, in 2001 at the Vienna Staatsoper and the Dresden Semperoper, in 2003 at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, the Opéra National de Paris, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, the Bayerische Staatsoper, the New York Metropolitan Opera and in 2005 at the Oper Frankfurt. In Lyon, in collaboration with Peter Stein, he conducted all three Pushkin-inspired operas by Tchaikovsky (Mazeppa, Eugene Onegin and Pique Dame) from 2006 until 2008, which were also performed as a cycle in early 2010.krill2

After moving on from the Komische Oper Berlin Kirill Petrenko worked as a freelance conductor. During this period his projects included conducting a new production of Leoš Janáček’s Jenůfa (Production: Barbara Frey) at the Bayerische Staatsoper in 2009. In Frankfurt he conducted Pfitzner’s Palestrina (Production: Harry Kupfer) and Puccini’s Tosca (Production: Andreas Kriegenburg). In 2011 he worked on two new productions of Tristan and Isolde at the Opéra National de Lyon and at the Ruhrtriennale.

krill3To date, the most important orchestras Kirill Petrenko has been invited to conduct include the Berlin Philharmonic, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the BR Symphony Orchestra, the Bayerische Staatsorchester, the WDR Cologne Symphony Orchestra, the Hamburg Philharmonic and the NDR Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, the Frankfurt Opern- und Museumsorchester, the Amsterdam Concertgebouworkest, the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome, the RAI National Symphony Orchestra in Turin and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Kirill Petrenko has also conducted concerts at the Bregenz and Salzburg Festivals. From 2013 to 2015 he swung his baton for the new production of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen during the Bayreuth Festival.

Since September 2013 Kirill Petrenko has been General Music Director at the Bayerische Staatsoper. He will be working in this position until the end of the 2019/20 season. Since 2013, he has taken to the rostrum for premieres of Die Frau ohne Schatten, La clemenza di Tito, Die Soldaten, Lucia di Lammermoor and Lulu as well as a revival of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen among other works. In June 2015, Kirill Petrenko was named future Chief Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, starting this position in autumn 2019.

In the current season at the Bayerische Staatsoper Kirill Petrenko led the world premiere of Miroslav Srnka’s South Pole, next up is a new production of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in May 2016. Furthermore, Kirill Petrenko conducts revivals of Lulu, Tosca, Ariadne auf Naxos, Die Fledermaus and Der Rosenkavalier, as well as three Academy Concerts with the Bayerische Staatsorchester.

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Carmen at the Hungarian State Opera with Rinat Shaham

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carmen20Opera in two parts, four acts, in French with Hungarian prose and surtitles

“Her eyes were obliquely set, but large and full; her lips rather thick, but well cut, and permitted the teeth – white as blanched almonds – to be seen. Her hair was perhaps a trifle coarse, but had a blue sheen running through it, like that one sees in a raven’s wings, and was long and luxuriant. She was of a strange and savage beauty – a face which at first surprised you, but it was one you could never forget. Her eyes especially had an expression at once voluptuous and fierce…I stabbed her twice. She fell at the second thrust without a cry. I can still fancy I see her splendid black eyes regarding me steadily; then they became troubled and closed.”

Details

Location:  Veszprém Aréna
Date: July 9, 2016
Start time: 20:00
End time: 23:00

Cast

Conductor Gergely Kesselyák
Don José Zoltán Nyári
Escamillo Károly Szemerédy
Dancer Zoltán Bátki Fazekas
Remendado József Mukk
Zuniga Géza Gábor
Moralès András Káldi Kiss
Carmen Rinat Shaham
Micaëla Gabriella Létay Kiss
Mercédès Éva Várhelyi
Frasquita Ildikó Szakács

ARTISTIC TEAM

Director
Pál Oberfrank
Set designer
László Székely
Costume designer
Márta Pilinyi
Choreographer
Marianna Venekei
Head of the Children’s Chorus
Gyöngyvér Gupcsó
Chorus director
Kálmán Strausz
Featuring
Honvéd Male Choir

GALLERY (Photos by Rákossy Péter)

SYNOPSIS

Act I
On a square in Seville, a troop of dragoons are keeping watch next to the tobacco factory, where they pass the time by watching the passers-by and chatting. A pretty girl named Micaëla appears, clearly searching for someone. Morales and the other soldiers address her: she reveals that she is looking for a corporal named Don José. Morales informs her that the corporal will be coming to the square when the guard changes. The soldiers urge the girl to wait for Don José there with them, but she shyly tells them she will come back later.
Presently, the new guard arrives, with Lieutenant Zuniga and Don José among them. The latter is informed by Morales that a pretty girl has been looking for him, and that she said she would return shortly. Based on the description of the young woman, Don José immediately realises that they are talking about Micaëla, the young orphan girl his own mother has been raising in the countryside. The bells of the tobacco factory ring out, and the men of Seville gather to admire the beautiful young women from the factory as they come out to the square – especially the sensuous Gypsy girl, Carmen, who appears last of all, singing a song of love. All eyes cling to her, except for Don José’s. Carmen tosses him a flower, and laughingly returns to work. Without knowing why, Don José pockets the flower in his tunic. Micaëla returns, and before quickly departing gives the corporal a letter and money – and a kiss – sent from his mother. Don José is overcome by homesickness.
Suddenly, a fracas breaks out in the factory. Lieutenant Zuniga sends Don José in to find out what is going on. The factory girls rush out and, forming opposing sides, relate to Zuniga two different versions of what happened: Carmen and another girl had got into an argument. Knives came out, and Carmen slashed the other girl’s face. Don José takes Carmen out to the square, but she refuses to say anything about the matter. Zuniga orders that Carmen be taken to the gaol, and Carmen, finding herself alone with Don José, attempts to convince him to let her free. She sings an erotic Seguidilla to him, offering her love in exchange for freedom. As Zuniga returns with the warrant, Carmen knocks Don José down and runs off.

Act II
At Lillas Pastia’s inn in Seville, Carmen and her compatriots are enjoying themselves in the company of Lieutenant Zuniga and the other officers. The girls perform a dance for the soldiers. Lillas Pastia is preparing to close the establishment for the night, but Zuniga is still flirting with Carmen. It emerges that Don José has been demoted and locked up in the stockade for allowing Carmen to escape. From outside, the sounds of a festive crowd grow louder and louder. A growing clamour is heard from outside: Escamillo, the famous toreador from Granada is being cheered by the crowd on the street. The bullfighter and his companions enter the inn, where his audience is delighted to hear a true celebrity describe the matador’s life. His eyes fall on Carmen, who returns the attention. Escamillo departs with the crowd in tow, leaving only Carmen, Frasquita and Mercédes. Finally, it emerges why Lillas Pastia was in such a hurry to close for the night: the inn is a secret base for smugglers, and Dancaire and Remendado are coming to recruit girls for their smuggling operation. Frasquita and Mercédes agree to the task, but Carmen, prevented by love, is unwilling to go along… Don José’s singing is heard in the distance. The smugglers withdraw, leaving Carmen alone with the corporal. José had been freed earlier that day and had immediately set out to find Carmen. The girl begins to dance for him, but soon a bugle sounds calling the soldiers back to the barracks for the night: Don José must leave if he’s not to wind up in even more trouble. Carmen grows angry and mocks him. The man professes his love for her, revealing the flower that she had thrown to him, which he has guarded ever since their first encounter. For the gypsy girl, however, his words are not enough: she wants José to desert and choose the life of freedom, to become one of them. Don José rejects this, and Carmen sends him away. Just then there’s a banging at the door: it’s Zuniga, who has slipped back to see Carmen. The two men start to fight, until Dancaire and Remendado pull them apart. José now has no other choice than to join Carmen and the smugglers.

Act III
The band of smugglers are encamped beside a mountain road. Carmen and José quarrel: the girl has started to grow tired of the man’s constant fits of jealousy. Frasquita and Mercédes draw from a deck and amuse themselves by contemplating what fate the cards have in store for them: one of them will have a handsome young lover, while the other’s will be old and rich. Carmen lays out her own cards: they prophesy death for her and José. Dancaire takes the three girls off with him to help him come to an arrangement with the customs officer to admit the goods into the city. Micaëla appears in the deserted camp. She has worked up her courage to confront the woman who has turned her beloved, José, into a villain. Hearing men’s voices suddenly cry out, she hides in fright. Don José, left to keep watch, has called out to an approaching stranger. It is Escamillo, who tells José that he has come to find a beautiful gypsy girl with whom he has fallen in love. When it turns out that he’s talking about Carmen, the two men go at each other. The returning smugglers separate them. Escamillo elegantly invites everyone to his next bullfight in Seville, and then departs. Micaëla emerges and begs José to return home, as his mother is dying. José agrees, but before he departs, he warns Carmen that they will meet again.

Act IV
Before the bullfight in Seville, the throng cheers the procession of picadors and toreadors. Arriving on Escamillo’s arm is Carmen, whose girlfriends warn her to take care, as they’ve spotted Don José in the crowd. The girl, however, is not deterred. The crowd makes its way into the arena, but Carmen remains outside the entrance to await Don José. He soon appears and starts pleading with Carmen to come back to him, since he cannot live without her. The gypsy girl calmly replies that everything is over between them, and she now loves someone else. Inside, the crowd cheers Escamillo. José attempts to convince the girl, but she cannot be swayed, exclaiming that she “was born free, and free she’ll die.” She returns the ring that José had given her earlier. José draws a knife and stabs his beloved.

FOCUS ON:

rinat_shaham2Rinat Shaham

Opera Singer
mezzo-soprano
Israeli born mezzo-soprano Rinat Shaham is internationally recognized as one of today’s finest interpreters of Bizet’s Carmen, she first performed the role at the 2004 Glyndebourne Festival. She has since portrayed Carmen in Vienna, Rome, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Cologne, Baden Baden, Lisbon, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, and the United States. Born in Haifa, Rinat Shaham completed her musical studies in the United States at the Curtis Institute of Music. While still in school, Shaham was invited to make her professional operatic debut as Zerlina with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the same role she performed for her debut in New York City and Pittsburgh.

rinat1Shaham made her European operatic debut as Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at the Aix en Provence Festival. She sang the title role of Massenet’s Cendrillon in Brussels, Mélisande in Pelléas et Mélisande in Berlin under Michael Gielen, and Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia for the National Theatre in Tokyo and the Teatro La Fenice in Venice.

carmen-handa-opera-on-sydney-harbour-rinat-shahamrinat-shahamEqually acclaimed as an orchestral soloist and recitalist, Rinat Shaham has collaborated with some of the most eminent conductors of our day, including Simon Rattle, Andre Previn, Christoph Eschenbach, Leonard Slatkin, William Christie, and David Robertson. Rinat Shaham has recorded excerpts from operas by Lully under William Christie for Erato as well as a solo CD of Gershwin and Purcell. She made her feature film debut as the ‘Jazz Singer’ in the István Szabó film, ‘Taking Sides‘, with Harvey Keitel. Her performance as Carmen from the Australian Opera has also been released on DVD.

 

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Conductor, TV Presenter, writer…: Exclusive Interview with Matthieu Mantanus

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INTERVIEW BY SALVATORE MARGARONE (as translated by Tiziano Thomas Dossena)

Tell us a little about yourself. When did your passion for music born?
My passion for music was born when I was a little kid: I was fascinated by the sound of the organ, but I was only five years old and my mother explained to me that I was not tall enough to reach the pedals! So, I started with the piano, and later on I also studied the cello with it for over ten years. And maybe it’s this instrument, instead, which opened up for me the door to the orchestra.

Which one was the turning point of your career?
My pivotal points were the meetings with various important maestros. First it was with Aprea, then with Sinopoli, Gelmetti, Panula and last with Maazel: important milestones in an artistic growth that, however, never ends. Life for me it’s like a hike in the mountains. While you walk you don’t realize how much you are climbing; it’s only when you stop to rest and you look down that you realize of the long path you walked. And anyhow, when you look upward, the peak never looks any closer.MM_portrait-480x320

copertina_libroMMAs a young conductor, tell us what you feel when you direct and when you meet new talents.
To conduct an orchestra can be at times the most fulfilling experience ever lived, and at times the most frustrating, since it is now based more upon human relations than the technical and musical preparation. The conductor, and it’s something that I tried to explain in my book “Beethoven e la ragazza coi capelli blu” (Beethoven and the girl with the blue hair), does not have any divine power, but has foremost to create the conditions for the musicians who play with him to perform at their best. From that point on, if there is trust, he can give suggestions with his gestures. If there is no trust, the conductor is the most useless person in the orchestra.
Talents, instead, I meet plenty, and usually I am tempted to share with them special music moments, one way or the other, because musicality, the real one, unites; and as I see it, humanity in a musician matters a lot.

unagiornataHow are your relations with young musicians?
I think that in the next few years I will dedicate myself more to “young people”, also considering the fact that I am also getting older…. I believe it’s important to make them reflect upon their role in today’s society: what is the point to study music in 2016? What sense does music have in our society? They are questions that until ten years ago one could avoid easily asking oneself since the method was exact, the professional structure proven. Today, the patterns are evolving because society itself is evolving. It’s fundamental then, to get back to our roots and give ourselves some answers to make sense of the most beautiful profession in the world. Also for the reason that if in the course of our training we tend, correctly, to act according to whoever is teaching us first and whoever judges us second, when we start the profession we have to turn around and look at the audience in the eyes and remember that it is for them that we perform, and it’s thanks to them that we are allowed to operate in this field.

Do you believe that in Italy, today, there is space for young people? Under what conditions?
Little; very little. From one standing point it’s normal, since in Italy, as in other countries, the “market” is shrinking visibly. It’s logical that being there fewer opportunities, young people are not capable to enter in a system that is not really working any more, but in my opinion this reaction is extremely dangerous because in a society evolving this rapidly, in which, being 38 I have a hard time understanding an 18 years old, what I would call the “generational contamination;” a correct amount of openness among generations would be useful to the evolution of musical offering…

What is your advice to young musicians?
First of all to study, study, and study again, because a real musician has to strive for perfection, then to play always with others, because music is sharing, and finally to travel around the world: courses, masterclasses, competitions, youth orchestras… to compare ourselves with others, since to find a job they will need to enlarge their horizons a lot and not expect to find it at home….

Let’s talk about your collaboration with channel Rai5. How do you stand in the shoes of a TV presenter? Do you like it? Do you believe it fits you?
I enjoyed myself a lot, since TV is a particular medium that I am discovering in the last few years, first with the program Che Tempo Fa, then with the live programs of Rai5… We really have to reflect on new ways of transmitting music to society: the TV is an important tool to which the music world compares with difficulty. I am working on so many ideas!Mantanus1

Among your projects we find “Jeans Music”. Could you explain how it was born and what it is about?
My “Jeans Music Lab” is a type of lab in which I experiment new formats to introduce the classic repertoire in live version. I believe the concert, in its current form, is functional for the public that follows it, but it does not have the capacity to attract new audiences. The first step, for me, is to call into question the formalism which reigns in the concert halls. The last project, for example, “Intimacy,” experiments the relationship with the video format: how to use the most recent art to which society is more sensitive, to transmit music.

Milano, Matthieu Mantanus © Cristian Castelnuovo

Milano, Matthieu Mantanus © Cristian Castelnuovo

Are there any limits, in your opinion, to the music world? As of today, should we dare more in our musical proposals? Or maybe we should stay within the limits, if any?
Limits in Art should not exist because the relationship between the artist and society is one of action-reaction. The artist has to be free to express himself and propose his thoughts, his sensibility. The only rule, which we often forget, is that the public has also to be free not to appreciate it and express that feeling. It’s this dialectic that allows art to assume all its importance in society.

What work did you want to do when you were a kid?
I used to tell my mom in the morning that I wanted to be a pilot and then at night to be a musician. I was always versatile; besides music, I loved physics, economics, diplomacy… Nevertheless, at the moment I had to really choose I asked myself whether I could live far from music, and since the answer was no, I chose this profession.

The strangest thing about you?
Paradoxically, maybe just my normality…

Are there any other projects at which you are working?
I am investing a lot in my lab Jeans Music and we have a lot of projects within it to be developed, all projects that aim to find broadcast techniques for the classic repertoire. Often, I hear cultural leaders who complain that to the activity of “approach to new audiences” is not followed by a growth in subscriptions, but it is very normal! If you change the format—let’s call it like that—and you can attract new audience, but you should not think that the same audience would love the preceding format: that usually means that it was that format they did not like! We have to look for different ways, sustainable through time, to do our cultural work; and upon that, my attention for the future concentrates.

The most embarrassing situation in which you found yourself?
Ahem, there are so many…. Usually given to the fact that I am not good at remembering faces, and there are so many instances in which I have long conversations with people I absolutely can’t remember, and then I discover that I met them quite a few times, and also with pleasure! I am a disaster!Mantanus2

Is there something that you want to say to our readers?
Yes. I hear too much, in my world, that society “does not understand music anymore,” that “it’s not like in the old times”, that “the government should…” or that “politics…”
I think, instead, that the time has come for us to realize that our society, paradoxically, is the one that has the most access to culture and knowledge that man could ever imagine in the past 10000 years, that our society is different from the one of our parents, and the one of our children is even more different from ours, but that different does not mean worse, and to complete our mission we have to have the courage to immerse ourselves in society, understand it, and place ourselves in a contemporary mode and without any prejudice. After all, society has a great need for music and especially of good music, and we can be the ones to bring it to it; wherever it is and with whatever means we can use, as long as we respect its substance.

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