SFOpera - Q&A with the Music Director

Q&A with the Music Director

Q&A with Music Director.pdf

Tell us about the first time you heard La Traviata.

My first experience with Verdi’s La Traviata was when I was around 20 years old. At that time I was very fond of La Bohème; every other opera seemed to me nothing in comparison. So, it took time for me to fall in love with this wonderful score, but when that happened, it was forever! The first time I conducted Traviata was in 1998 in Udine, Italy with the Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Grande di Trieste. There were no rehearsals; we went directly into the performance. It was a very exciting night for everyone, especially for me.

Why do we love La Traviata so much?

There are many reasons why this opera is so beloved. First, I think the music is extremely beautiful, and the story is still very moving. The fact that an “escort” decides to abandon that kind of life to have a normal one is still today something that, seen on stage, can create the catharsis that is so important when we go to attend a performance. Everyone who has made mistakes in his or her own life would like to be forgiven and have the opportunity to start over. Violetta is taken by death in the precise moment that everyone—including those in the audience—realize she deserves a new life.

It’s been said that for the soprano singing Violetta, she must be a coloratura for the first act of Traviata, a lyric soprano for the second act, and a dramatic soprano for the final act. Is this true? How would you personally describe the music?

Unfortunately for the soprano, it is true! Finding the perfect Violetta is almost impossible. She should be a light coloratura soprano in the first act, because her way of thinking in the beginning is light and superficial. In the second act she is a changed woman that tries to find herself in a new, calm, and peaceful life with Alfredo. In the third act she loses all hope for life and humanity. Verdi changes the music again for her, and this is why we need a more dramatic soprano instead. As everyone can see, singing this role is really demanding!

What are your favorite musical moments in Traviata?

The music of this immense masterwork is unbelievably gorgeous and appropriate in every moment. It is written in a way that, after a while, you forget that the people are playing and singing, and everything becomes more than real. In fact, it becomes absolutely true, more than life itself.

As to a favorite moment, I can’t make any particular choice. I am completely involved emotionally and musically with every single note of this eternal and glorious Music.

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