How One Violinist Conducts an Entire Bel Canto Opera | Modern Society of USA

How One Violinist Conducts an Entire Bel Canto Opera

How One Violinist Conducts an Entire Bel Canto Opera

What about when you have a solo?

Last year was a little bit tricky, because we did two operas that have big violin solos. That was a brain freeze for me, because you play three numbers, and you have to be in this mode of cuing and playing, then you have to play a Paganini-like solo, which is not fun.

Do your conducting gestures change from the podium to the violin?

It feels much more natural to lead while standing. To be sitting on a chair and trying to organize your body language — I have to do the same as standing, but I have to play. If I give a gesture, it is more immediate, more direct. You give the upbeat, then you yourself play. But it is also much more limited, of course.

How do you manage the complexity of these bel canto scores?

If there is a singing line, and if we accompany, it’s easy: We follow the singer. As Will always says, the singer is the director of his or her aria. And the singer has to be so convincing in the musical gestures, the breath, that we have to follow them. In pieces with multiple singers, it involves a lot of rehearsal time. We could not do that in a system that would allow for only a week of rehearsals.

In the absence of a maestro, how are interpretive decisions made?

The two artistic leaders of each opera discuss that. The singer that is involved is consulted. And of course ideas from the orchestra are welcome. It’s a dialogue, then at a certain point someone has to decide. Life is a compromise.

Teatro Nuovo

“La Straniera” is on Saturday, and “La Gazza Ladra” is on Sunday, at The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, Purchase, N.Y. Then “La Straniera” is July 17, and “La Gazza Ladra” is on July 18, at the Rose Theater, Manhattan; teatronuovo.org.

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