Between the glossy pages of Corriere della Sera's April 2009 ~Style~ magazine comes a portrait of Maestro John Axelrod. *scratches turntables with one hand & adjusts headphones with the other*
The piece recounts how at 16-years, piano prodigy Axelrod was accepted as a pupil by Lenny Bernstein; how after graduating from Harvard, he worked in the music industry out West, and then for the Mondavi Winery in the Napa Valley, where his epicurean appreciations blossomed. Lucky for us, he came back to the classical music world. After assisting Christoph Eschenbach at Bayreuth, he worked his way up, and with tenures mostly in Europe, he just finished his post as Musical Director at Switzerland's Luzerner Theater. He debuted Candide at Scala and Opéra de Paris.
Though born in Houston, Texas, he's cultivated a passion for Italian cuisine (loves burrata, cotoletta alla milanese, and pizza napoletana) and excellent wines (his favorites are Brunello di Montalcino and Amarone, Barolo and Barbaresco and Nero d'Avola). You can find a few essays about his culianary adventures on his website
He's also an admirer of Italian culture. One time in Venice, he convinced a gondolier to give him lessons. They redressed him in the typical gondolier outfit, put him adrift on a gondola, and he recalls singing "O Sole Mio" to Japanese and German tourists armed with video recorders.
Impressions of his fellow colleagues? He loves Dudamel (don't we all), Anna Netrebko, Magdalena Kožená more than Elīna Garanča, and he says Jonas Kaufmann has less ego than Roberto Alagna (in fairness, everybody has less ego than Alagna -- well, almost).
Axelrod's dream? To become the director of the Boston Symphony which he admits is because his mom always listened to the BSO on the radio (and in mom-worshipping Italy, few things can give you more credibility than this).