On May 6, Sir Antonio Pappano will conduct the Coronation Orchestra to lavish music on the coronation of Charles III of England at Westminster Abbey. One more consecration for the conductor and artistic director of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, met on the afternoon of April 3 in his vast and warm London office populated with scores, armchairs and sofa cushions, as well as a piano.
Less than two hours later, the maestro would be in the pit for the ninth of twelve performances of Turandot. Puccini’s last opera (1858-1924) is the affair of the moment. At 63, this is the first time that the Briton of Italian origin has directed him in the pit in a theater (resumption of the monumental 1984 staging by Andrei Serban). He has also just published a magnificent recording of it on Warner Classics.
The musician knows the work inside out. He worked on it from his youth with a singing teacher father whose lessons he accompanied on the piano, later as a coach at the New York City Opera, functions he would then occupy in Barcelona, Frankfurt, Chicago, Bayreuth, where he will be Daniel Barenboim’s assistant for several years. “When you approach a very young work, you are in a kind of spontaneity that you then lose with experience, as the years go by.he observes. And now we end up asking questions about each note. »
This reflection is undoubtedly at the origin of the first discography released in March with the original version of the love duet and the final scene of Turandot, left unfinished by Puccini and completed by the composer Franco Alfano (1875-1954) at the request of the publisher Ricordi. The box of two discs, engraved at the Parco della Musica auditorium, in Rome, after confinement, with the forces of the National Academy of Saint Cecilia in Rome (of which Pappano has also been the musical director since 2005), appears d already as a double musicological and musical event.
“Puccini hesitated for a long time, Pappano explains. He looked for different solutions, as evidenced by some thirty pages of sketches. But he did not manage to write what is not a classic Italian duet, as at the end of the first act of Madame Butterfly. » Fatigue ? Physical and psychological incapacity a few months before his death, while he was battling throat cancer? The maestro has another explanation: psychological plausibility.
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