Muti meets Chicago’s mayoral couple

Muti meets Chicago’s mayoral couple


norman lebrecht

October 10, 2021

Story submitted:

Riccardo Muti welcomed Mayor Lori Lightfoot and First Lady Amy Eshleman to Symphony Center before a performance this weekend as the return of live music in venues across Chicago continues.
photo (c) Todd Rosenberg



  • Player says:

    A masked Muti…

    • Midwestern Violin says:

      Muti is such a coward and hypocrite. He wore his mask to meet the Mayor who has signed mask regulations into law to protect city workers. But for 3 weeks he roamed around Symphony Center without mask.

      Meanwhile, Jeff Alexander made sure that everyone meeting Muti was vaccinated and wearing masks. So much for his responsibility to protect the musicians and the staff.

      Between Alexander and Muti it’s a race as to who is the biggest hypocrite.

      • ben dominitz says:

        Muti may have worn the mask out of respect for the wishes of the mayor, whether or not he agreed with the mandate. Do you now if he is vaccinated? If so, what’s the harm.
        Don’t politicize everything, regardless of your politics!

        • steve says:

          yes, he is fully vaccinated and tested negative shortly after arrival in the US.

        • Chicagoan says:

          It’s the law in Chicago. he does not have to agree. he must comply like the rest of us.

          • Nick says:

            Reminds me of the mandate to comply with anti-constitutional and illegal laws imposed in one country once. Those ‘lawmakers’ and those who complied ended up on gallows and/or in jail in 1946!!! Apparently some people never learn history lessons. Chicagoan is one!

      • Chicagorat says:

        The race is easily won by Muti. No contest.

      • Fabrizio Scotto di Santolo says:

        I believe this comment is deeply offensive and I am a bit surprised it went through without moderation. Whether or not Muti’s intentions were genuine, he is in charge to make connections that are productive for the Orchestra. I attended most of the concerts in these 3 weeks and saw many people around Muti’s age who were “flexible” with their masks. Unfortunately they reacted very bad to the attendants trying to remind them of the rule. Why don’t we speak about the lack of a young audience in an environment that is mostly joined by people who are over 60?

      • steve says:

        LMFAO many of the musicians weren’t wearing their masks either…

      • The Thinker says:

        Idiot conservatives cannot be satisfied. He does not wear a mask and you kill hum and when he does you still complain. You are a disgusting human being… if you’re a human being at all.

  • BigSir says:

    What do cities like Chicago, Baltimore do symphony orchestras?

  • Chicagorat says:

    Muti’s concert was so mediocre. Mayor Lightfoot and the First Lady left during the performance. They did not miss much.

    Here are excerpts from Chicago Classical Review:

    ” … while there were compelling moments, this “Pathetique” didn’t quite gel into an effective whole. In the first movement, the conductor kept a tight rein on the famous yearning second theme, here lean and unsugared. But climaxes were miles over the top with metallic tuttis and blaring, raucous brass that brought back memories of Georg Solti at his most frenetic.

    … The faster pace in the second movement added greater tension and edge but sacrificed the lilting charm that is essential for contrast. Conversely, the famous march was kept at a slower pace and heavier tread than usual. That made the theme seem not so much music of frantic desperation but almost comically jaunty …

    The finale … stayed almost entirely on the surface communicating little of the heartbreak or despair that inhabits this tragic music with the final descent to oblivion unmoving. Muti’s attention to dynamics—here and throughout—was uncharacteristically casual—climaxes were punched up way above the score and the basses’ final notes were nowhere near the edge-of-audibility pppp as marked.

    Despite superb individual contributions, the concert didn’t eliminate memories of the last Tchaikovsky Sixth on this stage three years ago when Michael Tilson Thomas led a “Pathetique” that was fresh, wrenching and revelatory.”

    Muti has succeeded in making the CSO ordinary.

    Full link here:

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      The best “Pathetique” I’ve ever heard was comparatively recently: Berliner Philharmoniker/Petrenko. Absolutely STUNNING.

    • Fabrizio di Santolo says:

      This comment shows very well how certain “American” still think about works of art as a sort of bag if chips where you can have different (artificial) flavours. This comment is just saying how low the understanding of works of art is in certain “entitled” categories. I was at the 3 performances of this Symphony. I disagree in full with the apprach of comparing a smokehouse bag of chips with the seal salt one. Muti is way too generous and understanding.

      • Chicagorat says:

        Well, well … Here we go. A true Muti-an has to show disdain for Americans. It is a pivotal RM loyalty test, like kissing the Godfather’s ring.

        Dear Fabrizio, don’t hold back, you can lash out at Americans freely and you will gain brownie points with your Master.

        Given that your Muti pilgrimages took you to Chicago; since we re-opened, we have not seen an inundation of international critics (or national critics) at Symphony Center in the audience or backstage.. have you?

        We have seen Hedy Weiss, Miriam Di Nunzio, and co.

        Have a nice flight back!

    • steve says:

      how very convenient that you just so happen to leave out the multitude of other positive reviews the concerts over these past three weeks received…

      • Chicagorat says:

        Not everyone is lazy Steve; readers can open up the link and read for themselves.

        • MD says:

          While Fabrizio did not insult all Americans, but said “certain” Americans, I want to be even more specific and talk about your comments above, Chicagorat. Obviously, you have not been to the concert, but you do not let such a secondary detail deter you from assessing its quality, stating without the shade of a doubt that it was crap. To support your point, you proceed to selectively quote a negative review, ignoring all the positive ones mentioned by Steve. Clearly, having not been to the concert, you have no clue to assess which review is on point, making super obvious that you chose this one only because it reflects your a-priori prejudice.
          If that weren’t enough, you also conveniently chose the parts of your selected review that you quoted, in a successful attempt to show that your appreciation for intellectual honesty rivals that for Muti.
          Omitting to quote

          “Muti led a soaring, surging performance that made all of Mazzoli’s singular effects and coloring come across in bold relief. The composer was on hand to take a bow and share in the enthusiastic and prolonged applause for her music.”


          “Muti led a performance that had many virtues. Keith Buncke managed to make the lugubrious opening bassoon solo unsettling in a fresh way. Every solo appearance by clarinetist Stephen Williamson seemed like a seminar in febrile Russian melancholy. Climaxes were put across with daunting power and the loudest volume heard in Orchestra Hall in two years.”

          clearly shows that you are a bad faith player, and you are here only to badmouth Muti for some reasons you only know, but that clearly has nothing to do with the subject at hand. It’s funny that you tried to ridicule Fabrizio, saying he was a Muti pilgrim. There is nothing to be ashamed in loving a performer and attending his performances. What is really sad is hating a performer and not missing any chance to spill poison on him. I don’t know what happened between Muti and you, but he clearly got into your head and is not relenting his grip. I suggest you start ignoring him to reach some inner peace.

  • CSOA Insider says:

    For background: since the Mayor proclaimed “Muti’s day” in Chicago to celebrate his 80th b-day, Muti and his entourage literally stalked the Mayor and pressured her into showing up at Symphony Center to “support culture”. Lori Lightfoot is a very compassionate person – she and her wife care deeply about culture – and she listened (don’t get tricked by Muti wearing a mask: the Mayor has been informed that Muti is an unrepentant maskless Covid negationist. But again, Mayor Lightfoot is very empathetic and tolerant).

    The meeting with the mayoral couple was rigorously a closed door one, so we don’t know what Muti said.

    However, I am on the safe side to assume that in this important occasion Muti held back and did not share his well known personal views on gay composer Jennifer Higdon and gay conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Similarly, he did not share his thoughts, published on the Corriere in Italy, about ME2 and “the movement” that wants to expand diversity and inclusion in classical music to take into consideration “skin colors” and “transgenders”.

    • Plush says:

      Stop the Mutihate. You are not an insider and i reject your fake hypocrisy accusations. Not an insider, not at all.

    • ben dominitz says:

      So you want to cancel Muti too? And you love the ineffectual mayor, whose “compassion” has made Chicago an even worse death row than it had been under the previous admin? Like many others, you confuse well-meaning efforts with good results. They are rarely the same. Will we ever learn?

    • J Barcelo says:

      Yeah, that Lightfoot is so compassionate: as of Sunday morning there were 35 shootings in her city this weekend. A typical weekend in the Windy City. She’s done NOTHING to stop the problem, except blame other people. She’s a totally incompetent mayor.

    • Midwestern Violin says:

      The Mayor is nice and tolerant, but does that mean that she has to tolerate Muti not giving a shit about Chicago laws? While the rest of Illinois is at least trying to comply?

      Muti is not special. I hope some sick employee sues Alexander’s ass. And Muti’s fat arrogant ass, as well.

    • Fabrizio Scotto di Santolo says:

      As others wrote, “assuming” things is a very convenient position. Muti has many best friends who are openly gay. If you are in that circle and you believe you must judge him for something you “assume” and based on your perception, frankly I think your “assumptions” are totally immaterial. In all the interviews in which the “diversity” topic came out, he just reminded that talent and musical qualities should prevail in any selection, regardless of the positioning of the person in the world. Music should come first when you are talking about hiring someone in an orchestra. I attended many (way too many) concerts of YNS both in Philly and in NYC. I don’t like at all his ideas about music, but I still try to follow where the young conductors are going. I don’t like his way of conducting not because he is gay, but because I strongly believe is terribly superficial.

  • Plush says:

    Lawrence Johnson in the “Chicago Classical Review” is not a credible judge of excellence. I discount his review and the Muti hate. Screw the Mutihate here. Inaccurate characterization of one of the world’s most experienced conductors.

    • Chicagorat says:

      Obviously, you are entitled to your opinion.

      I prefer to divide critics into two categories: those who attend Muti’s expensive dinners, and those who don’t.

      NYT critics don’t. Lawrence Johnson doesn’t.

      Nancy Malitz, Hedy Weiss, Valerio Capelli and Howard Reich, even Manuel Brug, all do. They all sing in a choir – mere coincidence?

      You should also apply the same high standards to Muti himself: for example, invite him to stop using hateful racial nicknames (e.g., “The Chinaman”). He does not get a pass because he is a “most experienced conductor”.

    • CSOA Insider says:

      If it’s an inaccurate characterization, you have to take the issue up with Aldo Cazzullo at il Corriere. He published Muti’s views on Metoo and diversity and inclusion here:


      Ansa reported on Muti using racially demeaning nicknames here:


      • MB says:

        People working with Muti, can you please explain to the old man that we are in 2021 and translator apps are a thing?

        He can’t release these statements to Italian journalists, and then pose as a woke lamb with the gay black Mayor of Chicago.

        People are not stupid and translate his interviews. he’s not fooling anybody anymore!

        • MD says:

          Lol, one can’t make this s**t up. Here is a photo of Muti with a mask and, since it contradicts MB’s narrative, it becomes a deceptive plot to “pose as a woke lamb with the gay black Mayor of Chicago”.
          MB, please enlighten us showing all of Muti’s disgusting statements in the full glory in which Google Translate unveiled them to you. Italian and English side by side, showing that you are not a fool nor a taliban

      • MD says:

        CSOA Insider, you are making an inaccurate characterization of Cazzullo’s article in Corriere della Sera, in which Muti says exactly what Fabrizio stated. I guess you can’t read Italian.
        You state as facts that Muti is an “unrepentant maskless Covid negationist” and holds negative views towards gay people without bothering to provide any evidence. To those who know him this clearly shows you have had no substantial interaction with him. In addition to what Fabrizio said, I can add that Andrew Patner disagreed with you on that.

        I am sorry that Muti does not hold your same views on a serious of topics. I am sorry that you dislike that in a democracy he is entitled to them. Maybe one day you will realize that the worth of someone is not measured by how much he conforms to your checklist. Maybe you won’t.,
        If you do not realize the hypocrisy in being outraged for Muti allegedly referring to Chung as “the chinese” but having no qualms in slandering him online anonymously, without even the bare minimum decency of putting your name behind your words, you can’t realize how comic it appears that you act as the arbiter of morals.

    • Alexander Hall says:

      It’s quite astonishing how the exponents of bile and venom have turned their attention away from Eschenbach, who used to be vilified in these columns at every given opportunity, to another conductor who has a distinguished record of achievements during the past 50 years. Rather like a plague of locusts these people suddenly descend and bare their teeth. No matter: they will all be forgotten whereas the names of great conductors will live on.

    • Patricia says:

      And one of America’s best orchestras

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Look, some of his Beethoven tempi are off – to say the least of it. But he’s a vigorous Italian lover of women (and vice versa) and that’s enough to consign him to the Left’s equivalent of hell; the cancellation gig.

    • Tommy R says:

      He’s 80. he’s gotta be one of the most experienced conductors.

    • Aleph says:

      The antidote to “Mutihate” (if that’s really a thing) is not Mutiadoration.

      Muti is behaving rather erratically lately, that’s all.The review of his Missa Solemnis in Vienna was neither hate nor a love-in, it just pointed to his lack of understanding of counterpoint in Beethoven. In Chicago, critics don’t like his very idiocyncratic readings of warhorses this season, a very strange late evolution in his career at 80 years old.

      • Fabrizio Scotto di Santolo says:

        The reviews you are mentioning for the Missa Solemnis are for the Salzburg Festival performances in mid August as he never conducted the Missa Solemnis in another occasion. The reviews were not in adoration of Muti but they never told anywhere that he did not understand the counterpoint. Most reviews were written by Germans or Austrians who are way too respectful for such a challenge as the Missa Solemnis just to accuse Muti not to understand counterpoint. Some of them didn’t like the way in which the counterpoint was rendered. I was at the 3 performances and they sounded different, mainly, I believe, for the little time to rehearse just when the Festival opened the doors as the first opportunity to have concerts in public. Maybe they had rehearsals before going to Salzburg. The reviews were, overall, very understanding of the situation.

  • Lothario Hunter says:

    Musicians were angry about the Mayor leaving the performance early. I’ve heard an earful from two of them. But comrades: the Mayor is dealing with gun violence and record homicides in the city, let’s give her a break and be happy that she visited. She is good people!

    In parallel, a busy Alexander, under pressure and worried about the bad press, has been sending his emissaries to stamp out Muti’s “cruises”. After what seemed like an initially successful quashing blitz, Muti defiantly boarded his usual ship at ssss after the matinee … destination the famous Jamaican Caves!

    • Aleph says:

      I am totally at sea (ha ha) with the references to “cruises”, in this and in many other posts; it is undoubtedly some inside joke, but please, enlighten me (and others): What’s it all about? Thank you!

      • Lothario Hunter says:

        Your yearning is warranted, but Chicago, and the world, are not yet ready for such jolt!

        Alexander, who presides over a leaky vessel (!) in stormy seas, is the legitimate caretaker of this skeleton hidden in the hull. A skeleton which seems alive and kicking!

        Maybe in the winter … A season where sailing in Chicago should be a foreboding labor for anyone but the Great Maestro!

    • steve says:

      please enlighten us as to what these “cruises” are. otherwise, stfu.

  • MB says:

    #screwthemutihate or #stopthemutihate have clear potential on Twitter.

    They can be hashtags of global grassroots campaigns to domesticate and subdue Muti’s hateful feelings towards:

    Chailly, Lissner, Teatro Alla Scala, Teatro San Carlo, conductors with “too much hair”, young conductors who don’t study enough and gesticulate, Prime Minister Draghi, Lawrence Johnson (the critic), the New York Times, Metoo, health officials, mask manufacturers, women composers who are gay, the next CSO Music Director, YNS, the CSO Chorus Master who recently retired, the Chinaman. And based on latest reports, “transgenders” are added to the list, which is clearly expanding at hotfoot pace.

    • Charlotte says:

      Few people may remember this, years have passed, but Riccardo Muti acted with ignorance, arrogance and insensitivity towards the Queen and Prince Charles:

      She should have taken his Knighthood back.

    • Chicagorat says:


      Is this a game? I like it. Good start, but you left out a pack of easy ones:

      CSO administrative staff, Jeff Alexander when he dares to speak, the CSO trustees who are against his “for life” contract renewal, CSO donors, ignorant rich Americans (especially those of a particular race), Sam Zell, the Zell Music Director (no, not himself), Zachary Woolfe (let’s name names here), Alfonso Signorini,, disabled conductor Jeffrey Tate, Mahler’s Symphonies, Obama, Jonas Kaufmann who turned him down for Cavalleria (how dared he?), Yuja Wang (I never could get this one, runs counter to intuition), Barenboim, Dudamel, American “ladies” who “don’t go to the opera to make their minds work” and “sit and wait for an Italian singer to bring an atmosphere of pizza and tomato” (quote from Financial Times), Germans musicians in general because after 250 years they still don’t understand Beethoven while he does, the EU, Americans in general (even if they are not rich, because almost all of them are ignorant), Biden, and Rotterdam.

      Yeah, the city of Rotterdam. In Holland. I don’t know what they did to him, but he hates it:

      • steve says:

        so let me guess. some disgruntled employee? dude, if you’ve got a problem, why tf are you complaining here? you honestly think airing anonymous thoughts on a tabloid site will make a difference and improve all of our lives for the better? LMFAO

  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    Nice to see “The Maestro” sucking up to someone even if it is a politician and her wife.

  • Mythman says:

    Never going back to the CSO, bunch of shills.