Over the past couple of days, I’ve had the absolutely incredible experience of attending two rehearsals led by Maestro Riccardo Muti, (who is my favorite conductor if that wasn’t clear already)! The first was an open rehearsal with the Civic Orchestra of Verdi’s ballet music (The Four Seasons) from his opera, I vespri siciliani, and the second was a rehearsal with the CSO of Verdi’s last opera, Falstaff. What makes these rehearsals even more exciting is that they both were of Verdi’s music, and with Maestro Muti at the podium, there is no doubt that each rehearsal becomes an even more valuable learning experience, not only for the musicians but for the observers in the audience (myself included!).
The Civic rehearsal, of course peppered with numerous jokes from Maestro Muti that probably shouldn’t be repeated here, gave a close look into how Muti meticuously examines Verdi’s music. Every single, minute detail of Verdi’s music was paid exacting attention by Muti – he catches everything. Whether it’s a missed note (and there were plenty that he caught) to slight nuances of rhythm (8th notes vs. 16th notes, quavers vs. semi-quavers) to how the (sometimes) simple orchestration of Verdi can create an entire environment, Muti makes sure that Verdi’s music is played absolutely perfect. There were a lot of people in the audience, as well as Mariss Jansons and Yo-Yo Ma! And another bonus – I got to meet Maestro Muti afterwards 😀
But it was the 3+ hour Falstaff rehearsal that was truly captivating – here I got to see first hand the legendary process in which Maestro Muti conducts Verdian opera.
I started off the day arriving at the Symphony Center lobby 15 minutes before the start time, which we were told to do, and guess who happened to walk in as I was waiting…Yo-Yo Ma!! He came in and shook everyone’s hands and was super cheerful – such a great way to kick off the rest of the day 😀
Anyways, the rehearsal of the entire opera (basically got a sneak preview of tonight) featured the entire CSO, chorus, and all the soloists – including the amazing Ambrogio Maestri, who’s playing the title role. The way he fills up the entire hall with his voice is breathtaking – the audience is going to love him in tonight’s first performance. Muti worked incredibly close with Maestri and each of the other singers, helping them shape certain phrases or making sure that they’re exactly together with the orchestra. It was incredible being able to be behind the scenes and witness all of this happen. Plus, during the breaks – Maestro Muti came down to the main floor to chat with everyone – he remembered me from Sunday’s rehearsal!! None of this wouldn’t have been possible though if Maestro Muti wasn’t inviting students to each of the 10 Falstaff rehearsals (sad I couldn’t make the other ones) – he is really a music director who is committed to bringing music to everyone. Anyways, I’m looking forward to the concert tonight – it’s going to be good! If you’re in Chicago, try and get a ticket because this something you don’t want to miss!!