The Napoletano Dynamite didn't hold much back when speaking to Corriere della Sera in an interview that ran in today's paper.
Riccardo Muti's recently returned from a whirlwind Kenya adventure with his Orchestra Cherubini kids, part of a Ravenna Festival initiative that gave a performance of Italian classics -- and Hakuna Matata from The Lion King. lloll.
Muti turns 70 on July 28 and shared a few thoughts [all translations are OC's kthnx]:
For 41 years I celebrate my birthday at the Salzburg Fesival by coincidence of my operatic appointments. For the future, I'm seriously thinking about devoting more time to myself, like the expression in Latin: Primum vivere. [first you must live, then you can philosophise, Primum vivere deinde philosophari]. In Salzburg I'll limit my concerts with the Wiener. Despite the engagements I've already received, I won't condut opera. For myself at 70 years -- I'm not feeling it. So many people thought that after I fell off the podium in Chicago that I would have slowed down or that i would have relaxed. Instead, they found that I have a heart in superb condition.
In the run-up of a sold-out August 3rd performance of Verdi's Macbeth for the Salzburg Festival, directed by Peter Stein with the Vienna Philharmonic, he'll be at his Anif-district villa.
How will he celebrate his birthday?
For my 60th birthday, the Vienna Orchestra prepared a marvelous ceremony, they played for me and the chorus sang Schubert while slipping themselves into the garden of my villa in Anif while I was reading the newspaper. Now I don't know if there will be any surprises, but certainly something will happen. The Wiener decided to extend to me the honor of becoming an honorary mentor, even after giving me everything that was already possible -- l'Anello d'Oro [the Wiener's special honor], the medals of Strauss, Nicolai, Mozart -- I'm a member of the Musikverein and of the Staatsoper.
His icons? He cites soloists such as Casadesus, Richter, and Arrau. For conductors, Antonino Votto was a hero, "a technical and ethical point of reference with the imprint of Toscanini."
On Carlos Kleiber: "We were friends, he was a brilliant and bright light, a star."
He cites Azio Corghi for teaching him blazing counterpoint in composition studies and Maria Carbone for teaching him the secrets of technical voice.
On Missa Solemnis: "I directed Beethoven's 9th at 46 years old. I still haven't gotten near to conducting Missa Solemnis -- I have to resolve a few problems in my head [the text..testo not testa!] first."
He disses the emerging cult of directors who run away with concepts that marginalize the music and young conductors who don't know any better:
Strehler said that to be a good conductor you need a good director and vice versa. This type of appreciation is already lost. Rushing is the enemy of music. Today you start to conduct at 22 years old without having done the necessary study, without any theatrical preparation, without realizing that every arrangement has a weight, a color, an accent, pertaining to how the singer supports the sentence. They're put into a hole where they perform and the directors have taken the upper hand. Opera's in a dangerous moment. All of the serious singers are complaining.
His favorite productions of all time?
Agnese di Hohenstaufen in Florence with Enriquez and the scenography by Corrado Cagli; Iphigénie en Tauride with scenography by Manzu'; Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni and Falstaff with Strehler at La Scala and still Die Walküre at Scala; Orfeo ed Euridice with Ronconi and Pizzi.