(If you are looking for the latest-breaking Teatro alla Scala news, go here and here for the most recent thang: Robert Carsen's production of Lenny's Candide ousted from its future billing at Teatro alla Scala.)
My dear lovely readers, how I've missed you all! I shall nev4r abandon you again!
This Christmas holiday, Opera Chic found herself among gracious company in Cortina, Italy, high on the fresh and frigid Dolomite air, wrapped in the warmest of warm M. Bardelli cashmere, and practicing her (horribly rusty) German.
I hope that everyone's holiday wishes came true and you were all treated to a lovely end-of-the-year orgy of food and gifts. My Xmas gifts were pretty :coal: because I got a wii, an xbox 360 *and* a ps3. ha ha j/k.
One of my actual, IRL, for real gifts was the Fall CD release (from BBC Legends) of Giulini's London Philharmonic performances of Hindemith, Dvorak, and Beethoven. After just one listen, it was apparent that Giulini successfully washed each performance in that dark, creamy, emo sound that only he was capable of mastering. And while I enjoy Giulini's embrace of symphony, I am more about his opera, and his recordings get heavy rotation in the Opera Chic house. Favorites? Giulini's 1961 EMI Le Nozze di Figaro with Taddei, Moffo, Schwarzkopf, and Cappuccilli; his 1955 EMI Live La Traviata with Callas and Di Stefano; and his 1982 Deutsche Grammophon Live Falstaff with Bruson, Nucci, and Ricciarelli.
Giulini's presence remains palpable throughout Milan (especially nella zona where I live, which is coincidentally where Giulini himself lived for decades), and his reputation as an enormously talented and distinguished gentleman continues. After Giulini retired, he devoted his leisure time to instructing the young musicians of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, which is comprised of the student orchestra that hails from Conservatorio di Milano. He doted on them sweetly with rehearsals and master classes. His care towards nurturing the students was lauded and recognized.
One of the stories from the witnesses who were with Giulini during his later years is that during his very last rehearsal with the laVerdi Orchestra (before he passed away in the summer of 2005), he took more than twenty minutes to individually tune each players' instrument within the orchestra. Aside from watching Barenboim with his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (I was at the September 1, 2006 concerto at La Scala, where Barenboim individually congratulated each and every player for close to fifteen minutes during the final applause), there is no other conductor that doted so lovingly and with such great patience on their orchestra.
Giulini perpetuates an honorable legacy throughout the music scene in Milan, where he has been duly sanctified; and if you have the occasion to go to Auditorium di Milano, you can find in the lobby, both his first violin (it's so tiny!), along with one of his treasured batons that he donated (and then came back to the foundation via auction) to the Auditorium. Here's an image of his baton from the lobby, which I took almost one year ago, while I was in attendance of the Capodanno concerto at Auditorium on Largo Gustav Mahler for the Blomstedt Beethoven's Ninth.
Giulini wrote: Ho sempre avuto un legame affettivo e scaramantico con le mie bacchette. Ne ho possedute poche, ma le ho custodite con grande cura ed attenzione. Questa è una di esse.
Ne faccio dono all’Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi con l’augurio di continuare l’importante lavoro di divulgazione musicale in questa Città e nel mondo.
C M Giulini, Marzo 2004
Translation: I have always had a link of love/affection towards my batons, as well as attributing to them the power of lucky charms. I have only had a small amount [of batons], but I have kept them each with great care and attention. This is one of those.
I give it to the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi with the wish that they continue the important work of spreading music in both this city and in the world.
C M Giulini, Marzo 2004
How kewl is that? Here is a picture of his violin, but the quality is pretty shady. But nevermind that...I will be returning to Auditorium this upcoming Capodanno concerto to hear Maestro Slatkin conduct Beethoven's Ninth, and will snap a better picture...
Anyway, before I left Milan for the holiday, I made a trek down to the Teatro alla Scala bookstore, and witnessed that lo spirito musicale of Giulini still thrives.
The La Scala bookstore contains two large albums, filled with 8x10 glossy press-shots of the musical geniuses that have graced the La Scala stage, that one can buy and frame. Between the portfolios, filled with popular artists, conductors, and ballet dancers, there remained only one photograph that had been sold out. That glossy was the capture of Maestro Carlo Maria Giulini. FINITA!
Another marvelous trinket this holiday season was a gift subscription to Classica satellite channel so during this long, grey, cold winter, I can watch awesome things on the plasma. Already, the channel is teh r0x0r.
But they've been looping Nikolaus Harnoncourt's conducting of Nozze di Figaro from earlier this year at the Salzburg Festival, and aside from Ildebrando D’Arcangelo and Anna Netrebko, it's an embarrassing disaster. Tommasini panned it in a NY Times review, as did every music critic in Italy when it ran. And I can bear witness that it really does suck.
Before I embarked on the journey to the heart of the Dolomites, I caught the ending of a HD Renée Fleming holiday special, and she's all decked-out in festive gear. She was singing among a nativity scene, but I was too lazy to check the credits. Here's a screenshot:
Okay, luckily during my holiday, Alagna didn't show up in Milan playing his tiny little violin that weeps canzonette about his low blood pressure and conspiracy theories. I returned to Milan full of frico, crespelle, and stinky truffles. And a new pair of puma kicks to herald a newly-invoked (and much needed) schedule of exercise.