This just in from La Scala rehearsals for the upcoming Madama Butterfly: Opera Chic hears that maestro Myung-Whun Chung's conducting seems to be heart-breakingly beautiful, leaving many professori d'orchestra and the famously jaded rehearsal hanger-ons from La Scala's staff completely spell-bound. As former assistant of our beloved Carlo Maria Giulini in Los Angeles and frequent guest conductor at La Scala, the soft-spoken Chung is well-liked by the orchestra (in the photo above, the maestro is wearing the official badge of our GIULINI4EVAR fan club).
Not nearly as convincing, at least in these early rehearsals, is Cio Cio San (a fact that in Madama Butterfly could create quite a few problems, especially with the loggionisti all too eager to hurl a few verbal spitballs against a soprano who, OMG, dares to sing Tebaldi's and Kabaivanska's and Freni's role: things could get ugly). Things, for poor Fiorenza Cedolins -- a.k.a Bocelli's Tosca -- could get ugly. Let's hope they don't, because Opera Chic won't be in Milan to report.
Everybody seems to like Venezuelan Aquiles Machado as Pinkerton -- vocally, he seems to be quite right for the role. Of course, Opera Chic hears, the stout, round-faced young man seems to lack a certain, um, physical grace, but Karajan himself, after all, cast, "Big Luciano" Pavarotti in the same role with pretty cool results. Lucky for Machado, it's only great awesome female singers who get fired for their size, and it was poor, great Violeta Urmana who (last December) got a lot of grief from her Aida director who imagined a svelte Aida in his feverish dreams.
So the Machado gentleman's job is safe -- he can enjoy the great ossobuco and cassoeula and pork chops that are so deliciously seasonal this time of the year in Milan, without fear of ending like Voigt. Or having to go to the gym every night after dinner (there's a very cute one right behind La Scala anyway).
Anyway, here's Giulini on Chung, from 1994:
"A conductor produces a sound without physical contact. Mr. Chung had a capability to produce this and have contact, musical and human, with the orchestra. I believed in him. He is a great talent, a deep musician and a marvelous human being."
You can't say it any better than that, can you.
The excellent GTL Torn T, Liceu blogger with a name as cool as a rapper's, has more on Cedolins; his blog is already a favorite here at OC's headquarters, even if our horribly rusty high school Spanish is clearly in need of a masterclass, or twenty.