Muti lashes out at Graham Vick’s Parma hams

Muti lashes out at Graham Vick’s Parma hams


norman lebrecht

February 08, 2017

Riccardo Muti has taken issue with the British director Graham Vick’s plan to put amateurs – audience members – among the chorus on stage in his forthcoming Parma production of Verdi’s Stiffelio.

Parma is sacrosanct to Verdians. It is the capital of the composer’s home region.

Muti, on being told of protests in Parma, said: ‘Incredible: which conductor would accept such a thing?’

The pair have Verdi history. Muti and Vick worked together at La Scala on Macbeth and Otello befoe falling out at Salzburg in 2005 over Mozart’s Magic Flute.



  • Brian Robins says:

    Good for Muti. Vick is just one of many charlatans in the operatic world

    • David Nice says:

      What nonsense. You and Muti need to have seen the incredible results he’s achieved in Birmingham. Khovanskygate was perhaps the most extraordinary operatic experience of my lifetime – a real reaching-out that wasn’t gimmicky or compromised by the participation of ordinary Brummies in any way.

      And anyone that can bring Stiffelio to life in any meaningful way has to be applauded. Not that it’s guaranteed to be good, but Muti should go with it a bit and see if it works or not.

      • John says:

        Since Muti is not conducting the production (and never was) it hardly matters whether he “goes with it” or not…

        The other point to note is that the production will not be staged in the Teatro Regio di Parma but rather in the historic Teatro Farnese which has a large parterre without seats where I imagine Mr Vick intends to place the action.

  • Ozan says:

    Now if the director is challenging the musical integrity of a work (adding strangers to the chorus), that clearly crosses the line.

  • Peter says:

    Vick wants the audience to “enjoy” the opera being onstage, standing there while the spectacle unfolds. Basically to transfigure the traditional layout and separation between stage here and audience there. Muti is protesting that.
    Not to mix amateurs into the chorus.

  • Andrew Baker says:

    Multi hasn’t been to any of Vick’s superb productions in Birmingham which have professional orchestra and soloists but amateur choir. They usually happen in a factory or warehouse. Khovanschina was four hours standing by the audience who found themselves in the middle of riots – same woman the Ice Break – rather shorter though. Even Stockhousen’s Wednesday from Light was entertaining. And most of the audience were people who wouldn’t usually go to operas – all are sold out.

    • David Nice says:

      Right – I hadn’t read your comment when I posted a reply above. I agree completely, even if Khovanskygate has been my sole experience of the Vick-in-Birmingham approach. Never seen anything like it. And, to repeat, the musical values weren’t compromised in any way.

  • Bruce says:

    I’m not clear on Vick’s intention: to add amateurs as singers in the chorus, or to have them stand around as [non-singing] supernumeraries to fill out the crowd scenes?

    From what I’ve read, Italians are very attached to their labor unions and union contracts; perhaps Muti et al are against the idea of allowing people onstage who are not members of the company and/or not being paid, or being paid less than company members (which would set a dangerous precedent).

  • Halldor says:

    Vick is one of the few artists working in opera today who is thinking consistently about the fundamental nature and future of the art form – and staking his own reputation on bringing his ideas to life in what is almost always a powerful, thought-provoking and artistically effective way. If he thinks something can be done, it probably can. And usually should.

    Muti is…a conductor. A good one, but just a conductor. I’m not the first to say this, but it clearly needs saying again and again until it sinks in: TRADITION IST SCHLAMPEREI.

  • Lawson Bant says:

    As an amateur participant in a number of Graham Vick’so Birmingham Opera productions I can only say that the excitement that this causes both in the participants and audience needs to be experienced. I would also say that though still amateurs there has never been compromise in attaining a suitable standard and we are trained and rehearsed very very hard to reach the standard that Graham expects!

  • herrera says:

    There’s Sing Along Messiah.

    Now, Sing Along Verdi.

    Next, Dance Along Swan Lake. “Audience members, please turn off your cell phones, and strap on your dance belts, we wouldn’t want to see you flopping all over the place.”

  • Brummie says:

    Tickets for WAKE, Graham Vick’s latest adventure are now available on Birmingham Opera Company’s website if anyone would like to experience this kind of production first hand. You definitely won’t be sitting down!