A good week to think about new and better leadership.
Riccardo Muti taking the podium the week after Dudamel gave audience and orchestra a good chance to compare and see if ours is greater than theirs, so to speak. They were both quite good, actually.
Muti stayed on focus through all the hoopla surrounding his brief 3-concert run here. As a result, the Verdi Requiem hasn’t sounded better, at least not in this zip code. In the wrong hands the piece all to easily turns into a lurid sort of Opera buffa for the dearly departed. Perhaps disappointing a few, Muti took some of the John Philip Sousa out of the Requiem and restored a much-needed degree of sobriety. He had our long-suffering chorus in fine form as well.
As before, the Maestro proved capable of making his mark in a gracious and even entertaining manner. In rehearsal, anecdotes, jokes, and various other remarks can easily bore or infuriate an orchestra when handled ineptly. In this case they mostly served to focus attention on the task at hand rather than distract. Throughout the week Muti seemed aware that in addition to putting together an excellent performance of the Verdi, it might be in his interest to develop a good working relationship with the orchestra. As obvious as that sounds, not all Maestros tend to proceed in such a way.
All in all, a good start for a new era.