11 September 2014 at 12.39pm | 1 Comment
'I had a really good rest this summer following a non-stop 18 months that featured some very exciting and important pieces at the Royal Opera House, in Rome [with the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia], La Scala and at the Salzburg Festival,' he told presenter Suzy Klein.
'For the orchestra, Anna Nicole is a big deal,' says the Music Director of the Season-opening return of Mark-Anthony Turnage's opera. 'It's hard to define what it is - jazz, pop, a pseudo-American musical idiom. It brings out something new for them. They have to find something different
He’s also excited about the return of Verdi's I due Foscari after a 19-year absence from the Covent Garden stage: 'It's not often heard but it's an opera with a wonderful pathos and a wonderful relationship between a father and his son - Verdi doesn't have too many of them! It's sad from the beginning and there's very little respite. It has a darkness which I would say is akin to Simon Boccanegra, but in embryonic form.'
Plácido Domingo will sing the role of Francesco Foscari, and Antonio is looking forward to seeing the baritone inhabit a role which the Music Director sees as perfect for him: 'He needs the stage like bread and water. It brings out something that's very touching in him, something that we didn't see before as the romantic hero. Here he's caught between his duty as leader of state and trying to free his son from imprisonment and exile. He's in a terrible dilemma and to see him emote in this way is something quite beautiful.'
As well as six operas, Antonio will also conduct an orchestral concert at Covent Garden in May 2015, intended to show off the versatility of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, as well as make them more visible: 'We're doing a wonderful programme: Ravel, Chausson's Poème de l'amour et de la mer with Anna Caterina Antonacci, Fancy Free by Bernstein and Scriabin's Le Poème de l'Extase. It should bring the roof off.'
With such a busy Season ahead, leading both The Royal Opera and the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, how does he switch off?
'It's difficult for any conductor. You're involved with public relations, with sponsors and the administrative elements of the job. I lead two institutions, and they complement each other wonderfully - a symphony orchestra and the opera house. Each demands a tremendous amount of loyalty, attention, and physical energy from me. I'm very fortunate in that part of my job is meeting a lot of people and I've met so many wonderful people in the past couple of years, especially sponsors. We've got a real family at Covent Garden and in Rome. I'm really proud of that.'
Antonio has regularly commented on the importance of the arts in society, something echoed during his In Tune interview: 'The arts are always viewed with suspicion, and we have to justify ourselves - why do we get money? Poetry, beauty, theatre and drama is something that every human being needs, in one form or another. And it's a beautiful thing.'