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  • Watch: ‘If you think of a football team, the conductor is a coach and a player all at once’ – Semyon Bychkov on his return to Covent Garden

Watch: ‘If you think of a football team, the conductor is a coach and a player all at once’ – Semyon Bychkov on his return to Covent Garden

The Russian conducts The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in Kasper Holten’s Eugene Onegin

By Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer)

18 December 2015 at 3.40pm | Comment on this article

In this film, Semyon Bychkov describes the challenges and joys of conducting. The Russian conductor returns to Covent Garden this Season with Kasper Holten’s production of Eugene Onegin.

While a conductor is required to direct and lead a musical performance, Bychkov reveals what the audience hears is a collaborative effort between all.

'If you think of a football team, the conductor is a coach and a player all at once'.

He says the pit is not hierarchical, but that he works alongside musicians and singers to deliver a shared artistic vision of how the score should sound.

'Conductors are musicians. It’s not musicians and conductors. A conductor is a musician who happens to conduct.'

Bychkov explains a conductor should also have a deep understanding of each musician’s part within the piece, in order to help them deliver their best performance.

'I study with them because I can see what the performers need and how they can best express themselves. I see where they are challenged, where the dangerous parts are. In a psychological way, I have to become them at the moment when they perform.'

Bychkov, whose career extends into both symphonic and operatic repertory, says to create 'something extraordinary', the performance has to balance technical brilliance and emotion.

'There has to be a harmony with intellect and sentiment. Both are equally important. If you perform only using intellect it will become too cerebral and will touch no one. If it is only heart, you will be the only one that is touched and no one else will understand.'

Bychkov won The Conductor of the Year at the Opera Awards 2015 and has performed with leading orchestras and opera houses in London, Paris, Vienna, Milan, Berlin, Chicago and New York, among others.

Despite his impressive resume, he says conducting the great composers like Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner and Johann Sebastian Bach, remain his biggest honour.

'If you accept happily the service of those creators, it’s a privilege, it’s not a chore. It’s a responsibility that you can bring to life, faithfully what they imagined.'

Read on to hear Semyon Bycchkov discuss the music of Eugene Onegin.

Eugene Onegin runs 19 December 2015–7 January 2016. Tickets are still available.

The production is a co-production with Teatro Regio di Torino and Opera Australia, and is given with generous philanthropic support from the Danish Research Foundation.

By Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer)

18 December 2015 at 3.40pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged conducting, Eugene Onegin, Semyon Bychkov, The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, The Royal Opera, watch, YouTube

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