The aims of Maestro at the Opera
A note on the new BBC series, which begins tonight.
Trainee conductors Trevor Nelson, Josie Lawrence, Craig Revel Horwood and Professor Marcus du Sautoy
Maestro at the Opera begins tonight on BBC Two at 9pm, the first of three programmes which chart the progress of four celebrities who are undergoing training as a conductor at the Royal Opera House. The participants have been introduced to everything that goes into making an opera performance behind the scenes as well as conducting, working with the Orchestra and also the singers who have to act at the same time. They have also been working on phrasing, interpretation – making the music mean something.
Needless to say, neither the BBC, nor the ROH, thinks that anybody can become a qualified operatic conductor in ten weeks. To be a real Maestro takes not only talent, but years and years of hard work, training and experience, and the conductors appearing at ROH are some of the best in the world, already with distinguished careers internationally.
So the aim of the series – through the journey of the contestants – is to open up the wonderful world of an opera house to the contestants and to the viewers, and not to claim that anybody can learn conducting in a few weeks. To make the programmes exciting, there is of course the element of competition. And the prize for the most successful contestant is the chance to conduct a repeat of Act 2, fully staged, during tomorrow evening’s performance, Saturday 5 May.
We have written to all our audience members and invited those who might be unhappy with the repeat of Act 2 to contact us and we will do all we can to find a fitting solution for them. The repeat of Act 2 will only last approx 20-25 minutes, and we hope our audience will see it as an opportunity to take part in a unique event and enjoy the festive spirit, or take an extended interval. Of course this will not be a normal performance of this act, nor should it be judged as such. But it will of course be interesting to follow how far the contestant has come.
We very much hope our audience will look forward to seeing how this challenge plays out