At the Vienna Opera, only women are conducting today

At the Vienna Opera, only women are conducting today


norman lebrecht

March 14, 2018

This morning, Susanna Mälkki was rehearsing Von Einem’s Dantons Tod.

Tonight, Speranza Scappucci conducts La Bohème.

How times change.


  • Phillip says:

    Yawn…glad they’re filling their quota. What a joke. Man bad! Woman good!

    • Craig says:

      You must be fun at parties.

    • Sue says:

      Yes, and I’m one of the tens of millions who’d agree with you.

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      Paraphrasing George:

      “Soon or late the day is coming
      Tyrant man shall be o’erthrown,
      And the concert halls of Europe
      Shall be trod by women alone.

      Women of Englend, women of Europe,
      Women of every land and clime,
      Hearken well and spread mi tidings
      Of the golden future time.”

  • Ben says:

    I must openly apologize to all those people who sent me hate emails about my ‘Barbie’ conductor comment in another post.

    I may indeed failed to recognize all those beauty queen conductors are indeed the real deal. They are great conductors the moment they stepped on the podium allegedly — thank God that powerful man in charge have stopped suppressing them from conducting.

    Unlike many modern concert attendees, none of my four balls has evolved to hear sound. My music experience is severely restricted by my ears. I beg your pardon.

    I hope, one day, all female conductors would dress like Yuja Wang instead of gender neutral suit. The executives would realize “Wow, the audience is giving standing ovation no matter — the audience is seeing beyond the bikinis!!! The audience doesn’t care what they wear nor how they look. The audience appreciates their music making only, just like how audience reacts to Yuja Wang in escort attire…. We should book many more of those beauty queen conductors!!!! Go Women!!!”

    (Mahler 8th’s final chorus blasting thru the executive’s home stereo….)

    How beautiful and moving. The Force Awakens, even for really old men in the audience. Life is beautiful again.

    • ANON says:

      How come some people still haven’t realized that Yuja Wang’s public persona may just be a trap?… One of the easiest ways to tell apart a real music lover from a clueless poser is to ask his/her opinion on this particular musician.

      It seems you really can’t resist the temptation to call her a prostitute at every opportunity. Why don’t you just stick to the current topic rather than expose your ignorance like this?

    • AnnaT says:

      Ben, glad to hear you are an old man. Your doubling down here is really pathetic.

  • Will Duffay says:

    One day this won’t be news, and my fellow men won’t feel pathetically threatened by it.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Simone Young has been conducting in Vienna for the longest time.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The killing of Danton happened during the French revolution, yes, when men were killing each other in a frenzy!

    O, someone here asks what my point is. Should have locked the door. I have no point, just wanted to remind everybody that it’s about men killing men. Surely there must be some satisfaction in that for a female conductrice? WE would never steep so low. War, the guillotine, the atom bomb, primary school shootings, Trump things, all men’s stuff, prisons full of men, etc. So there is surely something wrong with the gender and I think we should get rid of them one way or another.


    • Sue says:

      Don’t forget the thousands who died on D-Day to liberate Europe and in the trenches in WW1; they were exercising their male privilege. There’s a film called “The Reader” which I highly recommend as the first stage of education.

  • Marg says:

    Roll on the day when this is not even newsworthy enough for Slipped Disc – when its just such a normal part of the musical world it wouldnt cross anyone’s mind to mention it. Whether female or male, will not be a cause for comment anymore than today in relation to the gender of GPs, professors, bus drivers, and so on where seeing a woman in the role doesnt send a bunch of men into fits.

    • Anonymous says:

      Totally agree. But isn’t it many often those ones who are not male or part of a majority-group who are doing simply self-marketing playing with their gender joker card, sexual orientation joker card, persecuted minority card etc. So people talk about their “jokers” in the first place and not about the musical qualities. There is probably a reason, why they focus on non musical things to talk about – stuff like I-am-from-a-minority-group-and-because-of-this-I-am-different-and-interesting! Waiting for the day when they no longer define themselves by this stuff. Waiting for the day when someone is outing himself as being heterosexual.

      • Bruce says:

        Yep, Vienna Opera clearly must have thrown any concerns about quality out the window if they’ve started hiring women. Because every man who’s ever conducted there has been wonderful.


        • Anonymous says:

          If you want to misunderstand my point, then feel free doing so. I vote for quality and not e-quality. Gender, race, whatever? I don’t care.

          • Bruce says:

            Whoops. I meant to be responding to Phillip (first comment in the thread).

            I actually agree with you: I look forward to the day when gender & ethnicity don’t matter, to anyone, no matter what the profession. In the meantime, I get annoyed by the insinuation that the females who are making it are making it because of political correctness, or quotas, or trading on their looks, or selling themselves as a novelty act, or whatever. Sometimes this is blatant, like Phillip, or implied, like others who say things like “of course, most of them get where they are by hard work and talent…”

  • Greg Tiwidichitch says:

    How can a conductor be properly evaluated as to whether they should or should not be engaged to conduct a concert? Shouldn’t it be based on their ability to conduct alone? Why does it have to be set up as a “quota” to fill? Yes, there are very good women conductors who aren’t given a chance but the same can be said for yellow, red, black, old, or young conductors (meaning Native Americans or older conductors in small markets). Every conductor, regardless of sex or race or station in life should be given the chance to show whether or not they can excel on the podium and whatever the results is in terms of numbers, that’s it. The real battle is to create a fair process to evaluate ALL prospective conductors that measures real conducting skill and isn’t biased or nepotistic which can then be used to hire conductors who can really conduct.

  • Mark says:

    I heard several performances conducted by this Scappucci woman – a solid professional, but nothing more

    • Speranza says:

      Really ? Which performances did you see live ? Thanks

    • Nik says:

      That puts her streets ahead of some of the male imbeciles who conduct repertory at the Staatsoper.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Yes, I agree: solid professional performances are something that should be aspired to; but it isn’t always achieved.

    • Bylle Binder says:

      The first time I heard Ms Scapucci conduct was at the Scottish Opera where she did a Don Giovanni – and during the overture I already brought my ears into position for very close listening because there was something special in the thing though the orchestra wasn’t first class. Nevertheless the lady got something out of them which made in my opinion up for a lot.
      It was then some time later that I heard her in Liege – and once again I felt like listening to something special, something more as just solid music making. Since then I’m convinced that there is a special spark – and it comes combined with solid handcraft which I like very much.

      • Bylle Binder says:

        PS: I prefer “this Scapucci woman” very much to a few of the men who fidget in the biggest houses and who make me admire the colleagues in the orchestras there. There is – just an example – a conductor who became famous as a singer ,but whenever he stands in front of an orchestra I really, really wonder what he does there and how the colleagues “read” him.

  • TiredofItAll says:

    “Scappucci woman”???? Please…have some respect. I heard her lead a Traviata in Vienna. Fully in command and from all accounts, a solid musician. She needs no excuses when she appears with major companies.

  • Kundry says:

    And do people really think every male conductor is a genius? And honestly believe that every male conductor is booked purely on merit? I don’t think so. I’ve lost count of the number of male “solid professionals” – and considerably worse – who get to wave their arms around on the podium without being dismissed as “this Scapula man”… and noting more than a “solid musician”. I’ve heard frightful performances by male conductors who are spectacularly useless and in no way are “solid musicians”, but they’re lauded, booked and paid like they’re some kind of deity. I’ve also heard of conductors (male) reaching stratospheres that their musical gifts in no way merit simply because there’s money behind them that orchestras/record companies need. Therefore I’d gently suggest that all we want is the chance for third-rate female conductors to work as much as third-rate male ones.

    • Anonymous says:

      Of course not. There are almost too many males who cannot conduct but have a good manager, look good or are media friendly.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      “Money behind them…”. This was likely true in the era when recordings made serious money, but it isn’t true anymore. While some conductors are better than others (although even the best conductors will sometimes produce poor concerts or fail to gel with an orchestra), nobody can really get a major position without being reasonably competent. Of course, you may not like their musical style, but this is different from saying someone is not competent.