Young Muti: When conducting opera, first remove your sweater

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    • If, like me, you like the musical result in this clip, who cares about the hair, the sweater, Muti’s over-the-top movement or whether the orchestra is looking?

  • All of you , armchair conductors and specialists, take a break and keep quiet. What Muti does – hair ( jealous anyone ?) movements and the rest, is exactly what was needed at La Scala in the 80s , when the orchestra was mediocre, bored and unionized to the bone. They played behind , routine, with no style, mediocre and boring. It was essential that the temple of Verdi be refurbished , refreshed and reformed. Since explanations from Muti would have been met with a long list of, not for print, Italian folkloric comments , delivered in different dialects , one worse that the other, the young man did the sweater thing – nice visual metaphor ” I am young , I have energy and you don’t ! So , that is the way is going to be !” and they had to follow and do it. Maybe not immediately , but eventually they had no choice ! Verdi needed to be revitalized and re energized and he did a great job – also , observe the smile on his face – Bravo Muti !

    • I am with you on armchair conductors, but was the Scala orchestra in such bad shape when Muti took over from Abbado? There are wonderful 70s and early 80s recordings, some live, under Abbado (Simone Boccanegra), Gavazzeni (Il Trittico DVD) and even Kleiber (Otello, Boheme).

    • Ahum….!! So, pre-Muti times were just…the age of “provincialism”?

      First of all, these old “goats” in the orchestra who might have seemed to lack motivation, had still very vivd memories of Toscanini, De Sabata, Furtwängler and Karajan, and were pretty loudly and clearly against “politically installed” managements and conductors, especially right in the middle of the 70’s, when Milano was at some kind of political war between the PCI (Partito Comunista Italiano) and the DC (Democrazia Cristiana).
      Needless to say, managers and artistic directors were chosen according to the political party-card/ball-game, something Mr.Lebrecht very vividly described in his Opus Magnum “The Maestro Myth”.
      And politics apart, don’t forget the efforts of Abbado and Carlos Kleiber, just to mention the maybe only two conductors who could mesmerize and enthuse both energy, vitality and moments of glory in the old House.

      P.S: And remember: once Muti (DC) was in charge, both Abbado and Kleiber were banned from the House.

      • Don’t write stupid things you simply don’t know!
        Muti and Kleiber liked each other, for Muti Kleiber was one of the greatest!
        Kleiber didn’t appreciate the overrated Daniel Barenboim like many others!
        Karajan and Kleiber also admired each other!
        That is the truth and not the nonsense you write!
        They all met in rehearsals in Salzburg!
        Nevertheless I agree with comments about the Scala Orchestra before Muti – sensational live performances with Giulini, Votto and Gavazzeni and very much so with Abbado (Simon Boccanegra, Don Carlos etc etc ) prove the high quality IF a great conductor is in the pit!
        Later one Barenboim bored us with his lousy Mozart (Don Giovanni there and earlier in Salzburg) and many more. Mehta not much better.

        • For your information, I didn’t question wether they liked each other privately or not. The fact is (read it in the La Scala archives between 1986-1999), when Muti was in charge, Abbado and Kleiber were absent from La Scala, as did many other within the very reduced scale of “Biggies” already back then.
          Get hold on your manners. Some of us are in the musical profession since decades (there are not only US musicians here/or “only amrchair conductors”!!)

          • I am not questioning the rest of your arguments, but to what extent can one attribute Kleiber’s absence from La Scala during Muti’s tenure to Muti? That’s about the time when Kleiber’s operatic appearances outside the Bavarian State Opera became very rare.

  • He should’ve taken off his shirt too. I bet he looked good in a wife-beater (sorry, can’t call it that anymore, I mean a sleeveless white stretchy undershirt) à la Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire, with his chest hair peeking out of the top…

    Stellaaaa, I mean, Nabuccooooo

  • I sang in the Chicago Symphony Chorus at the time when Carlo Maria Giulini was the CSO Principal Guest Conductor. When he conducted a choral rehearsal, the first thing he would do was mount the podium and take off his cardigan sweater. It was a gesture noticed, anticipated and appreciated by many in the chorus, male and female.

  • I recall attending a Philadelphia Orchestra concert when Muti was a guest conductor in the 70s. At intermission two elderly ladies (probably about my current age) were walking ahead of me. The first lady said “Isn’t he wonderful?” Her companion replied, “YES! No matter what he does, his hair always falls back in place.”

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