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Maestro Carlo Rizzi returns to conduct RWCMD’s Spring Opera

Maestro Carlo Rizzi, RWCMD’s International Chair in Conducting, has just been awarded one of Italy’s highest honours for his commitment and contribution to promoting Italian music and culture internationally.

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A powerhouse of an opera conductor

Carlo Rizzi is a powerhouse of an opera conductor, in demand at the world’s greatest opera houses and concert halls, and regularly working with the most high-profile opera singers and orchestras internationally.

How remarkable is it then, that this year in the middle of conducting in New York, Vienna, Seoul, Beijing, and releasing four new CDs (in the capacities of conductor, editor, arranger and pianist) that he sets aside time to come and conduct RWCMD students at the Sherman Theatre. 

So as Director of Music Tim Rhys-Evans explains, we’re delighted to welcome him back to College to conduct our Spring opera:

I first became aware of Carlo when as a music student, I attended every WNO performance that I could during his incredibly successful tenures as our national opera company’s Music Director. I’ve been fortunate to work with him on many occasions and during all these years, and the thing that shines out of Carlo Rizzi is his seemingly endless energy and his relentless pursuit of musical excellence in everything he does.

And he brings all of that world-class expertise and enthusiasm to his work with our students.

A drive for musical excellence – inspiring and nurturing our students

I recently sat in on some of Carlo’s rehearsals with our singers from the David Seligman Opera School as they prepare for this Spring’s RWCMD double bill of Puccini’s 'Gianni Schicchi' and Respighi’s 'La Bella Dormenta Nel Bosco' (or ‘Sleeping Beauty’ to you and me).

What I saw was the same impeccable attention to detail that I’ve always known is central to his working practices: an uncompromising drive for stylistic musical excellence, a deep knowledge and understanding of the human voice, a deep dive into the linguistic complexities of the works and a visceral need to make the very best work possible.

He will now widen his influence at the College as he begins working with our students’ orchestral playing for the operas, and with our young orchestral conductors. I know that all these rehearsals will be every bit as forensic and inspiring as those he leads at The Met or La Scala.

RWCMD’s International Chair in Conducting

Carlo has a long history of working with us at RWCMD. As well as our International Chair in Conducting, he’s one of the Presidents of our David Seligman Opera School.

He conducted Verdi’s 'Falstaff' for us in 2016 and has conducted our WNO Opera Gala on many occasions. He has also performed recitals in the Dora Stoutzker Concert hall as a collaborative pianist with singers, given numerous classes and talks to students… I could go on, his commitment to RWCMD is huge and generous and we couldn’t be more grateful.

As we enter the final weeks of rehearsal for our Spring Opera double bill, brilliantly directed by the insightful and similarly detailed Caroline Clegg (one of the creators of WNO’s 'Blaze of Glory' last year), I already know that our audiences are in for a treat.

Maestro Carlo Rizzi working with the David Seligman Opera School singers

The amount of work, and sheer number of people that goes into making opera is vast. It’s also a collaborative process, in addition to the large number of music students involved, students from every corner of the College – set and costume designers, stage managers, set and prop makers - all ably led through the process by our dedicated staff teams, are committing hours of work to make this a show we will always remember.

But, as wonderful as I know the performances will be, it is the process of making this work that’s where the real magic happens -and to able to bring Respighi and Puccini’s music to life under the baton of Maestro Rizzi is an opportunity that few institutions can match.

Celebrating the ‘Grande Ufficiale’ of the ‘Ordine della Stella d’Italia’ (Order of the Star of Italy)

2024 marks one hundred years since Puccini died and Carlo began this anniversary year conducting 'La Fanciulla del West' (alongside 'I Vespri Siciliani') at Vienna State Opera. This summer, Carlo returns to WNO to conduct Gianni Schicchi once again, together with the other two operas in Puccini’s 'Il Trittico'.

The 2024 Puccini theme is also evident in Carlo’s newly released CD of him conducting the WNO orchestra with two brand new Puccini orchestral suites that he himself has created from scores of 'Tosca' and 'Madama Butterfly' (I urge you to listen to them as they’re glorious!).

It’s perhaps fitting that in 2024, he was also awarded the honour of ‘Grande Ufficiale’ (Grand Officer) of the ‘Ordine della Stella d’Italia’ (Order of the Star of Italy) for his commitment and contribution to promoting Italian music and culture internationally.

It’s not hyperbole to say that Carlo Rizzi is one of the leading authorities and finest conductors of Italian opera and the fact that in the middle of everything else that he does, he finds time in our 75th birthday year, to conduct students of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama is a coup for RWCMD, an unforgettable learning experience for our students and a treat for our audiences – don’t miss it!

Grazie mille, Carlo!

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