Riccardo muti and berlioz

Riccardo Muti rehearses
the Symphonie Fantastique

Hector Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique, written in 1830 according to a specific extra-music program, describes in five Movements the meeting of the composer with his beloved and the pains of his
non-reciprocated love.

watch the full version in the 8-dvd box set: Riccardo muti in rehearsal

Riccardo Muti rehearses
Lélio with Gérard Depardieu as the narrator

A sort of sequel of the Symphonie Fantastique. The French actor Gérard Depardieu interprets the opera making the text (written by Berlioz himself) live in a constant dialogue with the orchestra. The booklet contains the original libretto in French.

watch the full version in the 8-dvd box set: Riccardo muti in rehearsal
Muti and Depardieu, the joint interview:
Ravenna (Italy) – What is Lélio ou le retour à la vie, the melologue – or better the monologue with music – written by Berlioz in 1832 as the ideal sequel of that Symphonie Fantastique, where he pictured the life of an artist of his times with painful and passionate notes?
Lélio, according to critics and to the author himself, represents the slow rebirth of Man. An openly autobiographical creator-genius who, at the beginning of this peculiar and fascinating opera, wakes up from the effects of opium, where he had found temporary refuge to get away from the torment of existence. “God, I live again!” are the first words of this hopeless exile tending to repudiate a world that cannot understand him and by which he feels tragically excluded. Although he ends up confessing, at the end of this journey among notes, that he wants to live “encore, encore et pour toujours”.
What do the two protagonists think? What is the meaning of such a text in today’s society?
Muti: Lélio is not a character from the past, he is the vivid image of today’s artists: one day praised, the day after rejected by the market, unfairly prosecuted by conservatories and maybe even brought to success by progressives. Berlioz has clear ideas about it: he isolates his mouthpiece in the center of the scene and makes him talk in first person. He wants Lélio to set out the composer’s own case to the audience and even confines chorus and singers behind him, separated by veils, with the task to underline in music Lélio’s words without passing over him.
Depardieu: To me, the author makes something more. As – without being aware of it, with the foresight typical of masters – he opens the door on the future, a future that is our present. It’s typical Romanticism and yet Berlioz’ hero is not presented in his dress full of pomp to defend a lost cause. He wears nowadays’ clothes, as if the noise of moving chairs and orchestra’s chords woke him up in that very moment from the drowsiness of drugs. Drugs he uses to face an everyday life that rejects him, to keep himself going with his work. As it is, unfortunately, for many intellectuals today. If this is not topical…
You convinced me. But now I would like to know if for the first time, in your career, music meets poetry.
Muti: Up to now, it never happened to me. Because here, with Berlioz, there is high risk. The voice must pass over the music without overcoming it and sometimes subjugating it in order to add it value. Almost an impossible challenge.
Depardieu: I have performed many times the part of the narrator. In Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, in Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, even in such a difficult opera as Kodály’s Háry János, but I had never felt as involved as it happened this time with Riccardo. Well, actually there was another time: when I played the role of the Assassin in Lily Passion, next to such a legend of French Song as Barbara. But that was an unusual musical, not an opéra philosophique like this.
How did you organize this work hand in hand?
Muti: Behaving like two fighters on the ring, who do not aim at hitting each other, but at integrating. Playing, dribbling, exchanging more suggestions than digs, like in a friendly football match. Where actor and conductor even share the role of the referee until, if it ever occurs, the final apotheosis.
Depardieu: I – who used to once play football, while now prefer taking care of my vineyard – completely share the analogy suggested by Riccardo. Undertaking such an effort at my age, with a mate who looks at me, encourages me, stands close to me and shares the same space together with me, is much more thrilling than working with certain poor directors.
Maestro, what is the difference between conducting a singer and conducting an actor?
Muti: Singers have a script called score and it is up to us making them respect it, sometimes encouraging them to underline words with gesture, as directors would do, or even more. With Depardieu the problem doesn’t even present itself. He is more patient than Maria Callas when she was directed by Visconti.
Monsieur Depardieu, did Muti behave more like a director or a conductor towards you?
Depardieu: Riccardo isn’t a conductor. He is an author, like Truffaut and Resnais at the movie theater. Like them, he builds an atmosphere around you, he puts you inside the work of art he creates. While on set… Please, don’t let me talk about that.
Original: Enrico Groppali – Il Giornale – 25 giugno 2008
(Free Translation)

Through his orchestra rehearsals, Riccardo Muti leads the spectator on a journey into music.
In this way you can better appreciate the indications and the clarifications of the Maestro: that enlightening,
clarifying word is not used to show off knowledge, but to help the orchestra have a deeper vision of what it must perform
and to help the audience face the Universe of Music.

A journey that fascinates both the simple enthusiast and the musician: the clarity of Maestro’s words,
the meticulousness in the study performance of the score are instruments of the highest quality put in the hands of the audience.

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