New honors for Speranza Scappucci

See the bottom of this post for the great news!

We interviewed conductor Speranza Scappuccci last year shortly after we met her in Washington DC and learned that she will be appearing at the Rossini Opera Festival this summer. Since then she has been busy with performances throughout the world. Her recent performances in US included a much praised “La Sonnambula” which prompted the NYTimes music critic to suggest that it was time for her to “conduct across 65th street at the Met”!

Her most recent US performances were at LA Opera where she revitalized the musical values in the warhorse, La Boehme While at LA Opera, Scappucci was interviewed at length for KUSC and we posted the link to that interview.

In spite of her busy schedule, she has graciously agreed to answer a few more questions for RossiniAmerica, to update her previous interview.

Q. Thank you for again taking time to answer our questions. We are sorry we don’t ( yet) have the technical capability of bringing audio interview here on the site; It is one thing to see your responses “on paper”, quite another to hear you speak with such passion and commitment about your work.

Q. Recently some pages of a Rossini manuscript ( if one can call them that) were posted on FB and they looked like what one commentator called a Rorschach test. They were at least quite frantic and messy. When you study his printed scores do you feel the sense of spontaneity that the listener feels, or is this something that you must “create”?

A. Rossini wrote his operas is very short periods of time ! His genius and creativity are without limit. At the same time I think nothing is left to pure chance with him. To the listener his music of course sounds spontaneous and perfectly balanced, but I am sure that in certain masterpieces although Rossini uses some “formulas” , everything is perfectly planned out and the balance and perfection between word and music is spectacular !

Q. In your comments for the LA Opera interview you mentioned something about “young voices” being ideal for La Boheme. How much does the quality of the voice ( not the technique) matter in a Rossini Opera?

A. What I meant in Puccin’s La Boheme was not young voices necessarily , but youthful characters ! Because it’s an opera about youth,love, life and loss of innocence, sudden death. Because of Puccinis orchestration it is the conductors duty to make sure that the transparency of the heavy orchestration never surpasses the voices. You need healthy voices for Puccini. Same of course for Rossini , for which vocally speaking, it is necessary to have some qualities like coloratura and good legato

Q. We first became aware of your work from the enthusiastic review of your performances of “Il Turco in Italia” at Julliard a number of years ago. You are returning to this work for your Pesaro debut. You frequently say that you start with the score ( to find the “truth behind the notes”, if we recall) what is it like to return to a score that you have already conducted? Is there always something new to discover? How do your previous performances inform the ones you are presently doing?

A. Sudying a score always presents the opportunity to discover new things ! In this edition of Turco in Italia there will be practically no cuts , so some new music for me compared to the Juilliard version . Also I will be dealing with new singers so of course it’s a great opportunity to do things differently !

Q. A well respected American music critic recently bemoaned the quality of the present crop of young American conductors. One of his observations was that they are not mentored, and few, if any, come from a background in opera. Most of the great conductors we can think of did have a background in opera. What role has working with singers have in shaping you as a conductor?

A. For me it was fundamental. Because understanding how the human voice works and coaching singers gives me a more wide spectrum of how music phrasing goes! And it can be applied to phrasing also in the symphonic repertoire . People tend to think that if a conductor comes from opera , they are probably not as great in symphonic repertoire ! I say it’s quite the contrary . If you are able to deal with the stage the singers the chorus etc etc , it is quite likely that working on symphonic repertoire is as good or even “easier” ! Working backstage for years , training singers, next to great conductors can be the best school for a conductor in the making. That is , of course , if there is a basic talent and charisma.

Q. Is there anything you would like to convey to our Festival goers before we all meet in Pesaro?

A. I hope you will all enjoy this Turco in Italia, a real masterpiece of Rossini , often underestimated

Again, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

Photo credit : Marco Borrelli

After her Pesaro debut in “Il Turco in Italia”, Speranza Scappucci most recently appeared in Vienna ( conducting Rossini) where she was given this well-deserved, fantastic honor!img_0408