Opera How safe is Pappano in London?
Classical & Opera, New in Ceasefire, Paul Guest's Musical Notes - Posted on Sunday, September 18, 2011 13:40 - 1 Comment
In today’s Observer, Classical music critic Fiona Maddocks writes “Given the current panic about music directors in the world’s opera houses – following James Levine’s abrupt departure, temporary or permanent, from the Met last week – let’s hope the ROH has shackled Pappano in chains and thrown away the key.”
Of course Maddocks refers, above, to the swift, but somewhat expected absense of the music director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, a supposedly temporary measure. But I think this is the end of the 40-year reign of Levine’s Met.
Back in London, Antonio Pappano has transformed the Royal Opera since his arrival in 2002 with daring commissions as well as keeping up the musical standing of the internationally-renowned opera house, but how long will he remain the backbone of musical prosperity at Covent Garden?
In an interview with the Telegraph’s Opera critic Rupert Christansen, in 2008, the journalist wrote:
“His contract runs until the Olympic year of 2012, for which plans (including a new production of Puccini’s Il trittico and Ring cycles with Bryn Terfel) are already shaping up, and he hopes to conduct at Covent Garden in 2013, when centennial anniversaries of the births of Verdi, Wagner and Britten will be celebrated.
That will be that, Pappano thinks. He doesn’t want to run another opera house, because by the time he signs off at Covent Garden he will have been at the helm for more than 20 years, having led companies in Oslo and Brussels before he arrived in London.”
I’ve heard many rumours that Pappano was being lined up to take over from James Levine, and I’ve also heard from Pappano that he has had various discussions. He had said nothing- I interviewed him back in May this year.
I do wonder how much money they would offer for Pappano, who made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1997 with a production of Eugene Onegin. The downside to taking up a position in New York would be the longer commute to his second musical home in Italy. His schedule is somewhat busy enough as it is.
But let’s visit Christansen’s interview once more, and ask: if his contract is to end at the close of this coming season, then who will take over London’s Royal Opera?
I am unsure about the Met, and I don’t think Pappano will go there, although he’d probably do a better job than most- Having said that, with the departure of Elaine Padmore as Director of the Royal Opera and the arrival of Kasper Holten, will Pappano stay?
I think London is going to be a much more exciting city for opera than New York but, to add to the confusion, Pappano could still snub both and go to Italy instead, let us not forget his successes with the Santa Cecilia. Perhaps his future does lie there. Whatever happens, it hardly needs pointing out that, if Pappano were to leave the London opera scene, he would be sorely missed.
Paul Guest is Ceasefire‘s Classical Music and Opera critic. He also contributes to MUSO magazine, WIRED, Classical Music Magazine, and is the resident interviewer at Opera Britannia.