After conducting an impressive Salome here at la Scala, almost-honorary-Milanese Daniel Harding came back to London where he's all over his new "irresistible if obscure" gig as guest conductor of the LSO. And Comrade Harding will be soon flying, together with the LSO, to China. Where he will hold concerts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
But the fun part is that
As part of the tour, LSO and its sole sponsor Rolls Royce plc, a world-leading provider of power systems and services, will hold, in partnership with a Chinese company Poly Culture and Arts and the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, a Masterclass, during which three students will have the opportunity to conduct members of the LSO under the guidance of Daniel Harding. The Masterclass will be held in Beijing from April 19 to 20.
Now isn't that cool.
Anyway: Opera Chic was delighted to read in the Independent our intrepid Daniel Harding sensibly point out that
We have spent so much time re-evaluating 18th-century performance practice, but what about the 19th and 20th centuries?
The point being that the opera-as-funeral-like-event-for-teh-rich-peoples attitude needs a bit of readjusting, as of 2007. La Scala itself was a famous venue for card-playing, the Ridotto dei Palchi a sort of casino, where fortunes were literally made and lost by Rawdon Crawley-esque opera fans. And operas, of course, were performed with the house lights always on, burning bright. And silence-in-the-audience was of course a very relative concept in those unruly times.
It was of course the great Maestro Toscanini to change everything -- lights out, absolute silence, no encores, no applause even after very popular arias. Now, here at Opera Chic Headquarters (it's like the BatCave, only not underground, and in a 200-year-old Milanese palazzo) -- we're not nostalgicks for the opera-as-Moulin-Rouge distant past, and we like to listen in peace, but there's no denying that the stony looks one gets for shifting in one's seat or, gawd forbid, eating some candy really really need to go. The authoritarian streak -- audio fascism? -- inherent in nowadays symphony halls or opera houses is a thing of a distant, way-too-Prussian past.
So give it up for maestro Harding and his new ideas and his China-bound team, the LSO (by the way their new box set, Beethoven 1-9 conducted by Haitink, looks pretty yummy -- even if, of course, our favorite LSO performance ev4r is the old Beethoven 9 conducted by our beloved Maestro Giulini in the 1960s).