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November 2014
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Major Newcomer to Radio’s Saturday Opera


Saturday at 12:00 pm

He’s not exactly new to opera; some think he’s the greatest living Verdi conductor (Levine fans, avert your eyes). Though he conducted the Metropolitan Opera in a production of Verdi’s Attila in 2010, Riccardo Muti is as celebrated as he is hard to get, and has been a rarity on America’s Saturday opera broadcasts. After a lifetime on the podium, the 73-year-old maestro doesn’t need opera companies to satisfy his artistic appetite. He does fancy expanding the repertoire of his symphony orchestra to include opera. Enter the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s concert performances of Verdi/Shakespeare operas. To date they’ve done Otello and Macbeth (canĀ Falstaff be far behind?).

The Metropolitan Opera launched its radio broadcast on Christmas Day, 1931. According to the Met, that tradition has continued uninterrupted until the present day (actually, that first broadcast was on a Friday). Nevertheless, the Saturday noon time slot is hallowed ground for opera fans and not typically available to symphony orchestras. Aired chiefly on public radio stations, the Saturday opera broadcast brings weekly live or recent performances from America’s major companies. This year, the Houston Grand Opera opted out of the national broadcast, leaving the WFMT Radio Network room to spread the wealth that is the Saturday audience.


Riccardo Muti conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus with soloists Tatiana Serjan, Simge Buyukedes, Luca Salsi, Gianluca Buratto, Daniel Eifert

WFMT’s expanded series has included the Caramoor Festival, the Michigan Opera Theatre; the Rossini Opera Festival (from the composer’s hometown of Pesaro, Italy), and this week, one Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Sitting in the audience when music director Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra presented these concert performances of Macbeth in the fall of 2013, WFMT’s Carl Grapentine whispered to a colleague: “I don’t think I’ll ever hear it this good again.” Well. There is at least one opportunity. Hear Riccardo Muti conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus with soloists Luca Salsi and Tatiana Serjan on Saturday, November 22, starting at 12:00 pm.

Read more on Riccardo Muti and rehearsing Verdi’s Macbeth

Macbeth can be found at CSO Sounds & Stories on November 24.


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