Corriere della Sera ran a full-page article with Maestra Xian Zhang, the new MD of Orchestra Verdi, which was announced in April. The 36-year-old Chinese conductor is the first female music director in the illustrious history of la Verdi, an orchestra that has been past guided by Muti, Chailly & Giulini.
She's decided to change her home base to Milan for the next three years (she lived in NYC since 2002 where she worked alongside Lorin Maazel for the NYPhil), which will coincide with the duration of her new position in Milan.
Out of all the gorgeous neighborhoods in Milan, she's looking for a house in the Navigli section (OC's not a huge fan of the Navigli area, although its charming streams, elevated bridges and rowdy night life lure many -- OC instead goes to Navigli for many of the prive' sample sales she's invited to). Zhang likes Navigli because it's close to Auditorium di Milano (home venue of her orchestra) and she finds it full of life. She'll be living with her 42-year-old, stay-at-home/work-from-home husband and her 11-month-old son (who she famously conducted with while six months pregnant).
She doesn't mind Milan's heavy winter smog, having spent years under the heavier blanket of China's polluted atmosphere, and she's still in awe when she sees the blue of Milan's skies. She first came to Milan almost a decade ago when she was studying for her doctorate and fell in love with the city. She likes the balance between a city that's always on the go (which reminds her a bit of NYC) mixed with the laid back attitudes of the Italians. It took her a while to enjoy Italian food, and she admits that when she was working in Parma in 2003 for a Don Giovanni, she would spend her weekends in Milan and visit only Chinese restaurants. Shame! Now her husband cooks a mean spaghetti with tomatoes that she would kill for.