It's not like British conductor Daniel Harding had to convince us of his sartorial prowess, easily making the cut for Opera Chic's Five Best-dressed Conductors in W Magazine's Editors' Blog with his penchant for Louis Vuitton, Tom Ford, and Trussardi.
The 34-year-old conductor (and unabashed Manchester fan) was back in Milan between Teatro alla Scala guest performances and invited a Corriere della Sera journalist to tag along during a typical day of ~Fantastic Mr. Harding~, showing-off his superior sartorial, culinary and gadgetry fetishes. In the article called, "Vorrei sposare Natalie Portman" ("I'd Like to Marry Natalie Portman") Harding could come off insouciantly douchy, but frankly, he doesn't care. He's Daniel Harding, byotches: "Self love is a good jumping-off point for loving someone else," he tells thepaper. All translations copywrite Opera Chic, tia.
The first stop is a private tuxedo fitting at Tom Ford's luxury Via Verri 5-floor boutique in downtown Milan, where everyone calls him by name, including the security guard. Then it's lunch at Libera, a Brera-neighborhood restaurant that frequently hosts Corriere journalists because of its flexible, late hours (and good food), where Harding is joined by Gaia Trussardi (the young Italian designer/inheritor of her family's fashion label) and her boyfriend at a corner table. Then it's over to The Four Seasons in Via Gesù's intimate, prive' garden setting between Via della Spiga and Via Montenapoleone, which Harding calls home when he's in Milan: "When I'm in the city for a few days, I stay always at the Four Seasons because it's convenient and quiet. They make my trip seem like a vacation." FYI Daniel Harding never uses the hotel's wake-up call service -- he just wakes up naturally because he owns so hard.
A gadget junkie, he travels with his Mac (he banishes micro$uck although he loves Bill Gates), two cell phones, a Blackberry, and an iPhone. Big pimping, but it sucks to get stuck behind him at airport security! Since Harding spends almost 300 nights sleeping away from from home, he has two British passports to accommodate the high volume of passport stamps. All that's missing is a butler, a supermodel girlfriend, a private jet, a sleek sports car/submarine hybrid, and a spandex bodysuit. Bullet-proof, of course.
Read the rest under the cut!
Personal life? He's tells the paper he's a very complicated person. Engaged to his (now ex) wife, French violinist Beatrice Muthelet, for five years, they were married for another five before divorcing. He's very close to his two kids: Eight-year-old daughter Adele (who studies cello) and four-year-old son George <-- who sometimes conducts!
So when he's not in Milan, where's home? "It's difficult to give you an answer to that right now. Up until I was married, I was with my wife and kids. Now i have a gorgeous apartment in Paris, But the truth is that I have no connections with the city aside from my kids Adele and George."
On Milan, where Harding finds himself most at home (Harding, at 30-years-old, honorarily opened the 2005 La Scala season with Idomeneo where he made his Scla premiere, called in to replace ousted Riccardo Muti for the high profile December 7th Opening Night.): "I've been coming to Milan for more than 10 years. And also I run back and forth between Stockholm for my Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Italy is a special destination. It's the closest thing to a family for me." [...] "In Italy it's not about a residence, a monument or a street that's important to me. This is the city where I find my friends. And they support me. And this is the most important thing for me." Although the maestro shares special connections to mentors Simon Rattle and Claudio Abbado, he says he's close to the family of Paolo Gavazzeni, grandson of late Maestro Gianandrea (Principal Conductor at Scala for almost 50 years). And his father, Pino, is like a father figure to Harding.
Despite all the musically-legacied families, if he could meet anyone famious, it would be Natalie Portman who thinks is beautiful and jokes that she's apparently looking for husband material (hence Corriere's article title -- we <3 Natalie, too, but she's got terrible taste in men). Other idols? Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, David Beckham, Roger Federer, Obama, and Bill Gates.
On the qualities that make a good maestro: "An enormous charisma -- difficult to pinpoint. For some it's something physical, for others it's a 'forza interiore' or character. I'm not necessarily kind with my orchestras, but I definitely have the the power to bring them to the exact point that I have in my head."
He reads Dawkins and Hawking. He's into objectivism: "It's magic to understand how the brain works. We talk so ignorantly of emotions. For me it's not enough to know how to feel something...I also want to understand why. I'm fascinated to learn what happens in the brain when we listen to certain music, and what reactions they produce."
He also spoke about the rumors that he'll be called on to take over as La Scala's Music Director when Stéphane Lissner finally gives up GM control of Scala in 2015 (Lissner is confirmed officially until 2013, but he'll stick around through Milan's upcoming World Expo 2015 and although there's no official Music Director, Barenboim is Scala's "Maestro Scaligero").
Harding is one of the few names that's been thrown around as Scala's new Music Director (along with Dudamel). Regardless, we can't imagine he'll have any difficulty adjusting to the city if Scala is his destiny. Now he'll just have to learn to become a true Inter fan! We volunteer to teach him, but warn him that initiation involves blue and black ink. And paddling. Although there are no canoes or kayaks.
Harding says about the rumors, "People talk about it, but Scala hasn't asked me. It would be a dream come true for whoever they offer it to, and the answer is obvious: of course I'd like it. But is it the right thing for me now? I can't give you the answer to that question if they haven't offered it to me."