For young British conductor Edward Gardner, Benjamin Britten has been the harbinger of premieres, the late English composer ripe with initiations for one of opera's bright stars. The Eton-Cambridge schooled conductor inaugurated his high-profile May 2007 Music Director appointment at the English National Opera with Benjamin Britten's Death in Venice in Deborah Warner's evocative production, which had never been staged in ENO's history. Earlier this month, Gardner made his Italian and La Scala debut with the same production of Britten's last opera. This kid brings the freshness (we interviewed him here in 2009 in case you missed it).
La Scala took a gamble on Britten, as they do here for most works composed to English texts, but Gardner's masterful conducting, Warner's compelling production, and John Graham-Hall's intelligent read of the protagonist converged into a trifecta of aweseomness that made for a stellar night at Milan's Il Piermarini, a packed house greeting Britten's work. The knockout cast and production, solid and seamless, was a perfect marriage of opera's and theater's most enthralling aspects.
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