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Subject: Re: Dimitri Mitropoulos
From: Frank Cadenhead <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Frank Cadenhead <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 20 Nov 2016 14:54:33 -0500

text/plain (41 lines)

On Sun, 20 Nov 2016 07:35:41 -1000, Max Paley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
 Snip....  I consider the conductor and orchestra to be the foundation of an opera 
performance.  I've heard great performances from merely adequate singers and a 
great conductor (some of the Toscanini broadcast series as prime examples) but 
I've never heard a truly great performance with great singers and a poor to merely 
adequate conductor.  I feel the conductor has to create the shape and framework 
that makes for a strong statement of the music, but there has to be enough 
plasticity in that framework to allow the singers room for their individual 
In the post-war opera period, conducting was often not a focus of opera 
companies. Later there was an effort to change that. I remember when the ROH 
contracted Solti as music director, for example. It is a problem for opera houses to 
attract major conductors because of the salary cuts conducting stars had to 
endure. With concerts they fly in, rehearse a day or two, and conduct and leave 
the fourth day (with a five figure check) for another few days in some other city. 
Opera companies, with visits lasting weeks, will always find it difficult to compete 
with the income from concerts. When they find an extraordinary conductor who 
wants to spend their life in an opera house (Jimmy, for example) it is a major gift. 
Most here will remember decades ago when opera orchestras everywhere were 
uniformly second rate (with the exception of the Vienna State Opera, drawing from 
the same musicians as the Vienna Philharmonic). Now, the Met orchestra is still a 
top range ensemble and you have Barenboim at the Staatsoper, Pappano at ROH, 
Pierre Jordan at the ONP, Conlon in LA, etc. and the orchestra usually shines, even 
when the MD is not in the pit. Don't know about the singing these days, but the pit 
noise is much better than it was decades ago in the "golden age".

Frank Cadenhead

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