So, if you had told me at the beginning of the quarter that I would get to meet Maestro Riccardo Muti sometime in the quarter, I would have said you were crazy. This guy is so popular in Chicago: there are posters and signs and pictures of him everywhere, ranging from CTA bus stops to lamp posts, etc. Even when he came to UChicago, there was a group of people just walking with him wherever he went – I thought it was impossible to meet him…but I made it my number one goal of the school year to meet him (in retrospect, maybe my number one goal should have been getting straight A’s, but let’s be honest, that was never going to happen this quarter, haha).
As mentioned in the previous post, Maestro Muti was in town for a rare one-week December residency, and I had gotten to see him conduct Beethoven’s 8th symphony (which was awesome)! Anyways, long story short, I spent my reading period downtown at the CSO (maybe I should have been studying for finals?), and with some luck, I ended up getting to meet Maestro Muti in his room, complete with his piano, his two Grammys (for the Verdi Requiem recording with the CSO) and photographs of him with other legendary individuals, like Pierre Boulez.
Maestro Muti signed a La Scala program of the 1986-87 production of Nabucco that he conducted, which is literally the best Christmas gift I could have ever, ever, ever gotten. I mean, Muti was at La Scala for 19 years, the most famous opera house in the world! This was the place where Verdi/Toscanini/Abbado/etc. worked – just full of rich Italian operatic history. And the fact that the program was of his conducting of Verdi’s Nabucco made it even better. Muti is most associated with the music of Verdi’s, known as one of Verdi’s best interpreters. And I got a photo with him, which was the best way to end autumn quarter and kick off finals week. (Next goal is to get a selfie with him.)
Hopefully I get another chance to meet Muti again…he is not only a legend in the world of opera and classical music, but he has done so much for the city of Chicago in that he makes classical music more accessible with the free concerts and open rehearsals, in addition to his strong message of the importance of the orchestra/culture to a society that he pushes in each of his speeches. His work with the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra in Italy is also inspiring…plus he’s super funny. What more could you ask for in a music director? Grazie Maestro Muti!