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Fabio Luisi Is Named Music Director Designate of Opera di Firenze/Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

Fabio Luisi (photo: BALU Photography)

Fabio Luisi (photo: BALU Photography)

Grammy Award-winning conductor Fabio Luisi has been named Music Director Designate of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in his native Italy. This announcement comes at a milestone moment for the company, which is now under new management and embarking on a bold new era of rejuvenation. The prestigious appointment will see Luisi lead at least three full operatic productions and numerous symphonic concerts at the Opera di Firenze and annual Maggio Musicale Fiorentino festival each season, besides collaborating with Intendant Francesco Bianchi to raise the company’s global profile with a new touring initiative. With an initial five-year contract, in April 2018 Luisi looks forward to launching his tenure as Music Director. Under the auspices of the Fondazione Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, which is chaired by Florence’s mayor, Dario Nardella, the new position is being created especially for the Italian conductor, reflecting the unprecedentedly substantial nature of the role he will undertake both in Florence and on the international stage. The company is currently helmed by Zubin Mehta, who held the post of Principal Conductor for the last three full decades; he will be appointed Principal Conductor Emeritus. Luisi’s appointment, then, marks an historic turning point for the venerable Italian company, which ­– through its full season of opera, concert, ballet, and recital offerings, and the spring festival which marks the season’s annual conclusion – represents the center of musical life in Florence, the birthplace of opera.

Luisi comments:

“Florence has the potential as a city to became a major center for classical music, opera productions, symphonic productions, and this potential has increased exponentially with the creation of the new theater a couple of years ago. With the building of this astonishing complex – a big opera house and a perfectly sized concert hall – this is a very important stage in this development. We all know that Italian musical institutions are in a kind of crisis, but I think this is exactly the moment we should show – especially me as an Italian conductor – a commitment to develop these activities and help these institutions come out of this crisis and show new opportunities and perspectives. This is why I have accepted the offer of Mayor Dario Nardella and Intendant Francesco Bianchi to become the new Music Director of Opera di Firenze and Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Additionally, Maggio Musicale has a very important history. It was one of the most important festivals in Europe, with connections to all the major artists. We now have to deepen and strengthen its connections with the major artists of our time – conductors, soloists, singers – and I will work with the artistic administration of this institution to make Opera Firenze and Maggio Musicale become again what they were in the past: one of the most important musical institutions in Europe and in the world.”

Francesco Bianchi notes:

“I am pleased and honored to present Maestro Luisi as the Music Director Designate and, starting from 2018, the Music Director of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. With his appointment, the Fondazione del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and I look forward to further developing and enhancing the excellence of the artistic performances, allowing the Maggio Musicale to retain its rightful place in Italian and international musical and cultural life.”

A maestro of major international standing, Luisi is currently in New York, where, in his penultimate season as Principal Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, he leads a trio of winter productions: besides taking the podium for Sir Richard Eyre’s hotly anticipated new staging of Manon Lescaut, which stars Roberto Alagna and Kristine Opolais, he conducts Eyre’s hit treatment of Le nozze di Figaro, and reprises his acclaimed leadership of Sir David McVicar’s double-bill of Cavalleria rusticana and I Pagliacci. Also in his fourth season as General Music Director of the Zurich Opera, Luisi looks forward to conducting Lawrence Brownlee in a new production of Bellini’s bel canto classic I puritani by Zurich General Manager Andreas Homoki, with whom the conductor has been described as “almost a ‘dream team’” (Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen). In the concert hall, as well as serving as Principal Conductor Designate of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Luisi reunited with the Cleveland Orchestra last season, and recently returned to the Philadelphia Orchestra for an all-Russian program highlighted by what the Philadelphia Inquirer termed a “benchmark performance” of Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique symphony.

Opera di Firenze is currently enjoying something of a renaissance. In 2011, which marked the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, the company inaugurated its state-of-the-art new opera house, which won architect Paolo Desideri a coveted National InArch/ANCE Award. Three years later, Italy’s Minister for Arts, Culture and Tourism, the Hon. Dario Franceschini, appointed Francesco Bianchi Intendant of the Fondazione Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino; since then Bianchi has assembled the support of a first-rate management team. Highlights of the present season include new stagings of Suor Angelica, La voix humaine, and Rigoletto; the Italian premiere of Guo Wenjing’s Rickshaw Boy; the premiere production of the final version of Marco Tutino’s Le Braci; and a full orchestral and choral lineup featuring such celebrated guest artists and conductors as John Axelrod, Nicola Benedetti, Daniele Gatti, Mikhail Pletnev, Yuja Wang, and Alisa Weilerstein. No less distinguished, next season’s guests include Sir András Schiff, Diana Damrau, the Berlin Philharmonic under both Gustavo Dudamel and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and the Vienna Philarmonic under both Zubin Mehta and Daniele Gatti.


About Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and Opera di Firenze

Florence, the Tuscan capital, was not only the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance but also of opera itself. In keeping with this tradition of innovation, when conductor Vittorio Gui founded the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in 1933, he laid especial emphasis on contemporary and lesser-known opera, as well as on upholding traditional musical and cultural values. Today the festival he founded – one of the oldest in Europe, second only to Salzburg – represents the culmination of the Opera di Firenze season, which offers an extensive lineup of operatic, orchestral, recital, and ballet performances all year round. Internationally renowned, and at the heart of Italian culture, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino consistently attracts the world’s leading conductors, directors, and performing artists. Indeed, it was there that Riccardo Muti – Principal Conductor from 1968 to 1980 – first broke through onto the international scene. Over the course of its history, the Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino has also been led by such eminent conductors as Abbado, Bernstein, Chailly, Furtwängler, Giulini, Karajan, Kleiber, Klemperer, Maazel, Mitropoulos, Ozawa, Sawallisch, Sinopoli, Solti, and Walter, as well as by composers Berio, Dallapiccola, Hindemith, Mascagni, Penderecki, Strauss, and Stravinsky, and both the orchestra and the Chorus of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino have been recognized with Grammy Awards and other honors. Since 2011, the company has made its home in Opera di Firenze, a futuristic new complex featuring an acoustically optimized hall that seats 1,800, as well as in the Teatro Goldoni, a 19th-century architectural gem. For further information visit:

About Fabio Luisi

The winner of both Grammy and ECHO Klassik Awards, Fabio Luisi serves as General Music Director of the Zurich Opera (named Best Opera Company at the 2014 International Opera Awards) and as Principal Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera. He has also been named as the new Principal Conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra (DNSO), a position he will assume with the commencement of the 2017-18 season. As former Chief Conductor of the Vienna Symphony, he was honored with the orchestra’s Golden Bruckner Medal and Golden Bruckner Ring. This season, which marks the fifth of his Met tenure, Luisi conducts Sir David McVicar’s acclaimed Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci, Richard Eyre’s new Manon Lescaut, and Le nozze di Figaro. In his fourth season at the helm of the Zurich Opera, he premieres new productions of Wozzeck and I puritani, and leads Falstaff, Die Zauberflöte, and Tosca. He also tours with the Accademia Teatro alla Scala Orchestra, and returns to La Scala, Opéra National de Paris, DNSO, Filarmonica della Scala, Malaysian Philharmonic, Santa Cecilia Orchestra, Teatro Regio di Torino, and the Juilliard and Philadelphia Orchestras.

For high-resolution photos, click here.

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© 21C Media Group, January 2016



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