A young woman conducts Don Giovanni

A young woman conducts Don Giovanni


norman lebrecht

October 09, 2013

Nice twist, this.

The most sexist character in opera will be singing to the beat of a female Italian harpschordist/director in Scottish Opera’s new production.

Speranza Scappucci, assistant to Riccardo Muti in his recent opera productions, says: ‘All the work I have done as a vocal coach hasn’t happened because I am a woman; I was always hired for the quality of what I was doing. In my short career as a conductor it has been the same. I hope that will continue to be the case…. Women got to the podium later than men. Now it just needs time.’

Read more here.


photo: Silvia Lelli


  • Anon says:

    Is it really a twist? Isn’t she saying what Mantovani was saying; that conductors should be hired for the quality of their work, not their gender, and it simply needs time as more women become interested in being conductors before more of them make it to the top?

    • Les indépendants non-pistonnés says:

      No, that is absolutely not what he said. His logic is muddled and it’s all a bit hit and miss, praising the fairness of the ‘concours’ as the ultimate selection method (when that’s not how he was chosen to be director); highlighting the feebleness of women and their suitability for family life; telling us how there are few African conductors (which in itself is a complex issue which cannot just be touched upon lightly)…

      He also shows that he is inept for a job as the conservatoire ‘top manager’ highlighted by the phrase “what can I do?” (well, think hard Bruno…you’re the director for god’s sake!)..

  • Glenn Amer says:

    Oh, Bruno Mantovani, now I understand…couldn’t think of the connection to the more famous Mantovani!

  • Women ARE interested in being conductors!!!! But how can you make it when, in addition to all stereotypes, the music schools directors hold such a line? Yes, it is far more difficult to succeed as a woman, equally talented…

  • Elaine Fine says:

    Perhaps your title to this post reflects some cultural bias on your part, Mr. Lebrecht. Putting Scappucci’s name in the title would have been preferable, considering the subject matter and the audience.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      I don’t see any “cultural bias” in the title. The point of the “young woman” reference is not that it is a young woman conducting here, but that it is a young woman conducting this particular piece with this particular title character. But that this time, it is the woman who controls the character, not the other way around (as it is in the opera itself). That was pretty obvious even to me, and I am certainly not the sharpest tool in the shed!

      More significant for me personally is less that we have a woman conducting here, but that it is someone who went through the old school training of coaching singers, learning the craft and the repertoire thoroughly that way before picking up the baton. I find that significant since we have so many young conductors now who have not learned their craft through this daily rehearsal practice, but mostly in front of the mirror.

  • Maura Bayer says:

    You took the words right out of my mouth, Elaine Fine. Thanks!