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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hatchet Job

Fabio Luisi appointment triggers Roman blood-bath
Fabio Luisi. Photo by Matthias Creutziger courtesy IMG Artists.
The Met's recent decision to elevate Fabio Luisi to the post of Principal Conductor is having repercussions in Europe.

In a recent press conference, the Metropolitan Opera announced that the maestro had been promoted from Principal Guest Conductor, and would be taking over for James Levine in the Met's new productions of Mozart's Don Giovanni and Wagner's Siegfried, premiering next month.

Mr. Luisi's appointment to the role of Principal Conductor (a job previously held by Mr. Levine in the 1970s) has brought relief to New York opera lovers worried about the health and status of the company's music director. In recent years, James Levine has battled cancer, back probems and a shoulder injury. Last year, Mr. Levine ceded his postion as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a prestigous post that he held concurrently with his job at the Met.

But the announcement and extended commitment at the Met has met with blowback and disapproval from European houses, particularly the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma. The Roman house had hired Mr. Luisi to conduct its forthcoming staging of Elektra. Mr. Luisi has also been forced to nix engagements with the Vienna Symphony, the Teatro San Carlo Fellice in Genoa, and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Luisi's cancellation came as a shock to the Roman house. Elektra is slotted to open on Sept. 30.

In a statement, the Teatro dell'Opera condemned Mr. Luis's last-minute cancellation as "an unfortunate affair that harms the world of classical music and opera. The direction of the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, in stigmatizing the incident, is considering actions to be taken to protect the image of the Foundation, its workers, and their audience."

62-year old Hungarian conductor Stefan Soltesz, music director of the Opera Theater in Essen, Germany is slotted to step in. The cast features Eva Johannson in the title role, Felicity Palmer as Klytämnestra, and Melanie Dehner as Chrysothemis. The staging, first seen at the Salzburg Festival, is directed by Nikolaus Lehnoff.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats