Tuesday, August 30, 2016
The beautiful opera singer Daniela Dessi died in Brescia on August 20. She was diagnosed with cancer and began treatment last month. Our hearts go out to her husband, the tenor Fabio Armiliato, and their family. Fabio messaged: ‘A short, horrible and incomprehensible illness has taken her away in these months. The greatest opera singer of the last 20 years has gone.’ Engaged by Claudio Abbado at La Scala in the early 1980s, she was quickly taken up by Muti, Mehta, Sinopoli and other leading music directors. James Levine brought her to the Met. She often appeared with her partner, Fabio Armiliato. The pair were singing Aida together in Berlin on the night in April 2011 when their friend Giuseppe Sinopoli collapsed and died in the pit. They never forgot the horror of that moment or the nearness of mortality.
At the Salzburg Festival this afternoon, Riccardo Muti gave both concertmaster Rainer Küchl (pictured) and first violinist Eckhard Seifert solo bows after the concert, which appears to be their last. The first half was Richard Strauss Le bourgeois gentilhomme, apparently programmed for Rainer to float his trademark solos. Second half was Bruckner 2nd symphony.
Crisis in the Middle East. The principal bassoonist in the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra has broken her finger hours before a major international tour. The orchestra is heading for a weeklong Buenos Aires residency with Martha Argerich as soloist, followed by visits to limelight festivals at Salzburg, Berlin, Lucerne and London(BBC Proms). Without a bassoon. Brains were racked, databases raided. Barenboim knew who he wanted. David McGill, former principal bassoon at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, now professor at Northwestern U. It so happened that David was home – just home, in fact. He had been playing the Mozart bassoon concerto with Riccardo Muti and his Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini in Italy. As we write this, David is repacking his bags. Then he will work on his reeds, ‘raising my pitch up to about A-444. Not easy for a 440 American player!’ And off to the airport. David adds: ‘I have often said that I would do this only for two people in the world, Muti and Barenboim. And they both requested me this summer!’
The symphony #5 by Franz Schubert has been one of my favorite works by this composer for many years. I find myself listening so closely, that I quickly become disappointed if an interpretation does not measure up to what I expect. My “gold standard” for this masterpiece is the performance by the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Georg Solti. The reason that I am stuck on this particular performance is how the performers do the second movement titled Andante con motto. Solti does this like a piece of chamber music. There is singing everywhere: In the flutes, in the strings, in the cello. And the players do a Tenuto here, or a diminuendo there, or a sight Riterdando. Each player is listening to someone else, and the results are astounding. I will illustrate for you: Here is Solti: Next, let’s explore Riccardo Muti. Finally, here is Lorin Maazel: Music interpretation is a highly personal thing. Please tell me your own preference…
Carlo Fontana, sovrintendente of La Scala from 1990 to 2005 until claiming that ‘Muti stabbed me in the back’, is still a player on the park. Today Fontana, 69 and looking good, was re-elected President of AGIS, the Italian Association of Performing Arts.
San Diego Opera has been notified by the family that the Italian conductor Edoardo Muller passed away yesterday at the age of 78. Edoardo Muller (or Müller) made his San Diego Opera debut in 1980, conducting the West Coast premiere of Giovanna d’Arco. Over the years he conducted over 30 San Diego Opera productions until ill-health forced his retirement in 2011. Trieste born, he made his way as assistant to Serafin, Gui, Votto, Böhm, Molinari-Pradelli, Abbado, Kleiber and Muti, getting his breakthrough jumping in for Georges Pretre in Rossini’s Mosè at the 1973 inauguration of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. He went on to conduct at La Scala, Paris, Munich, Barcelona, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago de Chile, Montreal and most Italian opera houses. In the US he worked at the Met, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, Seattle, Washington, Dallas, Detroit and more. He was a frequent recital partner with Renata Tebaldi, Carreras, Obraszova, Bruson, Bergonzi and Caballé. In San Diego he is remembered for his humour, warmth, passion, and incredible repertoire knowledge. He had been ill for some time, and was in a coma in his final days.