‘There are too many mathematician conductors out there’

‘There are too many mathematician conductors out there’


norman lebrecht

April 15, 2015

Sayings of Sir Tony Pappano at this morning’s Covent Garden season launch:

‘I’m the music director. And I’m a Sir.’

On Verdi’s Trovatore: ‘Unless it’s driven by the conductor, there’s no cast in the world that can save it.’

‘Three Germans are dominant in Italian repertoire – Jonas Kaufmann, Diana Damrau, Anja Harteros.’

‘There is another tenor besides Jonas. He’s Alexandrs Antonenko.’


photo: Ken Howard

On Joyce DiDonato as Charlotte in Massenet’s Werther: ‘Interesting how many singers choose to do their role debuts with us. They trust us.’

On Michael Fabiano (Lenski in Onegin): ‘He’s quite something. He’s going places.’

On getting the right team together for contemporary opera: ”There are too many mathematician conductors out there.’

pappano didonato


  • T-ARAFANBOY says:

    Bold sayings, and I have to say I agree with the ‘mathematics’ part… Having worked most of my life in mathematics/statistics (never really liked it but love music) I was alarmed at the insanely non-musical environment I found myself in, but then again people always have to tell me: ‘oh, well you know, they always say that music and mathematics go together’ ??? ( >﹏< )

  • Dave says:

    I’ve seen quite a few conductors who seem to have studied geometry, and some obviously drew the line at circles…

  • musicologyman says:

    Interesting that Sir Tony mentioned Antonenko: I just heard his Otello recoring with Muti and the CSO and, yup, he’s the real deal.

  • Lindsay Koob says:

    Having helped to produce (and written the liner notes for) the Delos label’s forthcoming release (June 2015) of Alieva & Antonenko, you might call me a bit biased. But, Mr. Musicologyman, you’re DEAD RIGHT about Antonenko. There are few, if any, more thrilling young spinto tenors in opera today. And you MUST hear Dinara Alieva’s magnificent soprano as well.
    And for a totally different aspect of Aleksandr’s artistic versatility, check out his spine-tingling solo work on a recent choral album from Ondine, Sacred Love — which I reviewed for the forthcoming issue of American Record Guide.

  • DLowe says:

    Was that first comment directed at Alex Beard? What prompted it?

  • James of Thames says:

    Re: Mathematician conductors.
    Funny, because this morning we were trying to discern a conductor’s beat pattern, and being unable to assign it a number, we settled on the unknown variable “n”.

  • Erwin Poelstra says:

    One of the greatest conductors of all time (born in Switzerland) was originally a mathematician…