Just in: China names Italian music director

Just in: China names Italian music director


norman lebrecht

January 24, 2016

We hear from players in the orchestra that the Guiyang Symphony in southwest China, has named Rico Saccani as its next new music director.

Saccani, 63, is a former music director of the Budapest Philharmonic ans principal guest at the Hungarian Opera.

Guiyang, one of China’s leading orchestras, opens its auditions to overseas players. Saccani’s appointment signals its intent to play on the world stage.

rico saccani


  • ruben greenberg says:

    Are you sure he’s Italian? I remember playing with him as a child in Tucson, Arizona; nowhere near Italy, not even Little Italy.

    • Max Grimm says:

      While his parents are Italian, considering he was born, raised, educated and trained in the United States, I would refer to him as an American conductor.

    • Lynda Friesen says:

      Ruben, I knew Rico in elementary and junior high in Tucson. Incredible musical talent even then. I was in awe of his beautiful, kind, and elegant mother, who, I believe, had been a dancer with the San Francisco Ballet. Apparently he grew up under the influence of the arts. Nice memories.

  • Li Li says:

    God, Guiyang is one of the most backward provincial city (the capital of Guizhou province, one of the poorest) in China, can not imagine that they have “one of China’s leading orchestras”…

  • Dan says:

    Italian? Born in Arizona and according to his bio I can’t see any professional Italian affiliations, let alone any engagements.

    • CDH says:

      He doesn’t even GOOGLE someone he obviously does not know anything about in order to check the most basic fact in his headline?

      Come on…at least pretend to be interestedin accuracy.

      • Robert says:

        What I’m wondering … did the Chinese ever Google him?

        If his name had been “Rick Sacman” would they have hired him?

        • Max Grimm says:

          If we googled the Guiyang Symphony Orchestra, we’d find that the orchestra is quite young (founded in 2009) and doesn’t exactly command the same level of prestige and repute as the Berliner Philharmoniker or the Concertgebouworkest…..I think he would have been fine, had he been named “Rick Sacman”.
          Not every orchestra can afford to be exceptionally fussy when it comes to finding a principal conductor or music director.

          • Nick says:

            We ought not to forget that Guiyang has a population of around 3 million – almost 3 times that of Birmingham. I also believe it is China’s first orchestra funded almost exclusively by the private sector.

          • Li Li says:

            Nick, 3 million of population means a middle sized city in China… to give you an idea of comparaison, Shanghai has 24 million of population.

  • La verita says:

    Rico Saccani is as American as apple pie — born, raised, & educated in Arizona. But his 2nd wife was Italian, and they were based in Verona during their marriage.

    • ruben greenberg says:

      As he is from Tucson, Arizona, it would be more appropriate to say “as American as chili con carne”.

  • Mikel Toms says:

    He’s a bit of both! His autobiography is “Made in Italy – The Story of an American Conductor”. An excellent appointment for Guiyang.

  • Agnes Harsanyi says:

    BRAVO GUIYANG! I watched Maestro Saccani conduct in Budapest for 20 years. He was much loved by the orchestra members, singers and soloists for his preparation, humility and respect shown towards his colleagues and the music. His Millennium Verdi Marathon where he conducted seven different operas in nine days, all by memory, is still talked about.

  • Fernando Castelvecchio says:

    For the record, one can find on the Internet that Maestro Saccani’s Italian engagements included:
    -Florence Maggio Musicale (twice) Aida and Turandot
    -Arena di Verona. (Rigoletto and symphony concerts)
    -Naples Teatro San Carlo (Traviata)
    -Rome Opera (Madame Butterfly)
    -Puccini Festival Torre del Lago
    -Rossini Festival Pesaro (Turco in Italia)
    -Teatro Bellini Catania (Puritani, La Favorita and symhony concerts)
    -Genova Opera (Traviata and symphony concerts)
    -Trieste Teatro Verdi

  • agnes harsanyi says:

    just found this stunning performance of Romeo and Juliet with Maestro Saccani and the Iceland Symphony. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZR1GRaerPLQ

  • this is a first-rate podium talent of the highest order!!!! what a conductor!!! china is quite fortunate to have him.