A profile of director Marco Carniti

A number of years ago the Rossini Opera Festival mounted La Gazetta with a superb cast of Rossini singers in a production by Marco Carniti. We posted a review of the performance here on RA and we thought asking Carniti a few questions about his work would be a great way to resume our activities. We hope you will enjoy the exclusive rehearsal pictures from those performances, generously shared by the Rossini Opera Festival.

RA: Please tell us a little about yourself , your background and how you came to working in the theater.

MC: I started my career as a ballet dancer, I danced professionally until I was 22 years old and I have to say that ballet has influenced immensely my career as an opera director. I quit dancing and I started an acting career and I had the privilege of working with Federico Fellini, Marcello Mastroianni and Hanna Schygulla. But my goal was always to direct, I won a scholarship at U.C.L.A and that’s where I was first exposed to artists such as Grotowsky and Bob Wilson for which a later worked as an assistant director. When I returned to Italy I had the great fortune to become Giorgio Strehler’s assistant. With him I worked in an opera house for the first time in his production of Don Giovanni at La Scala, and after that I went on to work as an assitant to Lluiss Pasqual and Giancarlo Del Monaco. My very first own production as an opera director was Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette and the Bonn Opera House. Since then I’ve staged operas of Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, Paisiello, Haydn and Beethoven.

RA: Did you have any particular musical training growing up? Was there music in your home?

MC: I studied piano when I was a child, my mother is a great music lover and she used to bring me to La Scala since I was a toddler, she hosted parties and she would invite artists, I even had the privilege to meet Nureyev who would often dine at our house in between rehearsals at La Scala.

RA: You are mostly known for your theatrical productions. With opera there is the additional component of the music. Are there particular challenges having to coordinate with musicians and singers? Do singers need to be coached differently than actors ( with respect to acting of course )?

MC: Even though I’ve staged many operas I’ve never thought of myself as a “Opera Director”, to be honest I don’t even agree with the concept, according to me a true director should come from the theatre, if you only do opera I feel that you’re never complete. Visconti, Zeffirelli, Ronconi, Bob Wilson, Robert Carsen all started with a theater background and then moved on to opera even though in order to stage an opera you have to have a particular sensibility towards music. I direct opera singers the same way I direct actors but I obviously have to take into consideration the technical difficulties that singers have in order to produce the sound. But in my experience I’ve learned that you can push a singer to the limit and they will follow you, singers now a days are much more prepared when it come to acting. The most important thing is to never go against the music, in opera the music is paramount, anything that is non-musical just doesn’t work.

RA: Would you like to work more with opera?

MC: I would definitely like to work more in opera

RA: Favorite composers?

MC: Rossini, Mozart and Verdi

RA: First opera you remember?

MC: My first opera was in 1968, Lucia di Lammeroor at La Scala, Renata Scotto was singing and Claudio Abbado was the conductor

Many thanks to Marco Carniti for taking time to share with us. We are all looking forward to returning to the live theatre, particularly to experience our beloved Rossini.