Interview by Zinta Lundborg
April 5 (Bloomberg) -- Marco Armiliato did a lot of
unexpected arm-waving at the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday.
Having conducted the matinee of “Aida” (around three-and-
a-half hours) he said goodbye to the marching extras, horses,
dancers and suffocating singers, only to return equally
triumphant for the evening’s performance of “La Traviata”
(another three hours of toasting, coughing, and sad addios).
The popular Met regular took over “Traviata” on short
notice from Leonard Slatkin, who had arrived insufficiently
prepared for last Monday’s show, enraging diva Angela Gheorghiu.
By Thursday, Slatkin was gone.
Sitting at a cafe near Lincoln Center on Sunday afternoon,
the fit-looking Italian, 46, spoke about his marathon.
Lundborg: What did you think when you got the call?
Armiliato: I was at Carnegie Hall rehearsing for a concert
on Thursday, when (Met general manager) Peter Gelb asked if I
could do it. I said it was no problem. I can’t say no to the
Anyway, after “Traviata” I could have done another opera.
Lundborg: You didn’t find it taxing?
Armiliato: It was exhilarating. Music gives me energy.
Afterwards, I went home, cooked myself some pasta, played
some Playstation and called my wife in Genoa. When I looked at
the clock, I was surprised to see it was 3:30 in the morning.
Lundborg: What did you do in between shows?
Armiliato: I showered, changed clothes and immersed myself
It Was Fun
Lundborg: You usually conduct without a score. What about
Armiliato: No score. I feel so totally comfortable with
this great orchestra, it was fun.
Lundborg: How was it working with Angela Gheorghiu?
Armiliato: Angela has sung Violetta so much it’s in her
body and so it is difficult for a conductor to change her.
She’s a diva and she prefers the conductor to follow her
lead. She knows exactly what she wants, and 99 percent of the
time she’s right.
Lundborg: What did she say to you afterwards?
Armiliato: She came to my dressing room, closed the door
and sang a beautiful Romanian folk song just for me.
I didn’t understand a word.
Lundborg: Years ago you worked as a pianist with some of
the great singers, including Pavarotti. What was that like?
Armiliato: I went to his house one summer to help him learn
“Andrea Chenier.” He was very lazy, he didn’t want to study.
I’d start playing the piano in the room at the back of the house
just to get him in there so we could work.
Luciano wasn’t a good student, but he was one of the great
instant musicians who could create magic. Sometimes when he was
doing something weird, I would wonder but then saw that it
Lundborg: You’re a protege of James Levine. Do you want his
job when he retires?
Armiliato: Who doesn’t? I love New York and I love the Met
and the orchestra Jimmy built. When I walk through the stage
door and the security guard gives me a smile, it makes my heart
bigger and I want to give the best I can.
Lundborg: Are you looking forward to settling down?
Armiliato: It’s great being a guest conductor. You do the
job and you can leave all the problems behind when you’re done.
You don’t have to challenge or change things.
On the other hand, I’d like to grow something. I’ve had
offers, but right now my calendar is too busy.
For more information: http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera
(Zinta Lundborg is a writer for Bloomberg News. The
opinions expressed are her own. This interview was adapted from
a longer conversation.)
For Related News and Information:
Top arts and culture stories: MUSE
Interview stories: NI BACKSTAGE
Stories on opera: TNI OPERA MUSE
Stories on music: TNI MUSIC MUSE
--Editors: Manuela Hoelterhoff, Mark Beech.
To contact the reporter on this story:
Zinta Lundborg in New York +1-212-617-4006 or
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Manuela Hoelterhoff at +1-212-617-3486
-0- Apr/05/2010 14:37 GMT