|Bruno Bartoletti (Sesto Fiorentino,
10 June 1926 – Florence, 9 June 2013) was an Italian operatic conductor.
His active international career lasted from 1953 to 2007, and he
specialized in the Italian repertory and contemporary works. He was
particularly noted for his 51-year association with Lyric Opera of
Chicago, as co-artistic director, artistic director, principal conductor,
and artistic director emeritus. He also served as Artistic Director
of both the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma (1965–1973) and the Maggio Musicale
Fiorentino (1985–1991), and as principal conductor of the Danish Royal
Opera (1957–1960), in addition to frequent work as a guest conductor at
various major opera houses.
Bartoletti's father, Umberto Bartoletti, was a blacksmith, who also played clarinet in a Florence band. As a youth, Bruno played the piccolo. A teacher in Florence recognized the young Bartoletti's talent in music, and her husband, the sculptor Antonio Berti, recommended him to the Cherubini Conservatory. There, he studied flute and piano. Bartoletti later played in the orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, and subsequently became a staff pianist with the Teatro Comunale Florence, at its centre of vocal training. He was an assistant to such conductors as Artur Rodzinski, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Vittorio Gui and Tullio Serafin. In particular, Serafin encouraged Bartoletti to study conducting.
In December 1953, Bartoletti made his professional conducting debut at the Teatro Comunale with Rigoletto. In 1957, he became resident conductor of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, where his work included conducting the Italian premiere of Shostakovich's The Nose. He made his US conducting debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1956, conducting Il trovatore, as a replacement for the indisposed Serafin. In 1964, General Director Carol Fox named Bartoletti co-artistic director of Lyric Opera, alongside Pino Donati, and served jointly with Donati until his death in 1975. Bartoletti then became sole artistic director, and held the post until his retirement in 1999. Following his retirement, he had the title of artistic director emeritus for the remainder of his life. In all, at Lyric he led approximately 600 performances of 55 different operas.
Bartoletti focused almost exclusively on opera in his career, with few conducting engagements in symphonic work. He conducted several world premieres of works by composers such as Luciano Berio, Luigi Dallapiccola, Paul Dessau, Lodovico Rocca, Gian Francesco Malipiero, and Alberto Ginastera (Don Rodrigo, 1964).
The Italian government had bestowed on Bartoletti the rank of Cavaliere di Gran Croce della Repubblica Italiana. He was also a member of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, and a winner of the Abbiati Prize. In his later years, Bartoletti taught at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena.
|As in many
of Luciano Berio’s musical dramas, there
is no real plot to La vera storia, but
rather a series of events. Wolfgang Schreiber said of the première
at the Milan Scala in 1982: “Berio’s theme is tension, and the
violent conflict between individual and state or society, of people
and power, of freedom and authority.” In order to convey this,
Berio and Italo Calvino created a storyline which draws elements
of its plot from Verdi’s Il Trovatore. More
important than these elements of the plot, however, is the manner in
which they are presented, which also draws on existing operatic models,
including solo arias, duets, trios, chorales – archetypal operatic
forms. Berio extends this musical vocabulary with the two “cantastorie”,
who describe and comment on the events of the opera in six folk-like
ballads (unforgettable Milva as ballad singer). As with many of his
other music theatre works, in La vera storia Berio also
attempts “to enhance our consciousness of the fact that we ourselves
are the only ones who are able to fit a story as it is told into our own
experience of the world.”
Antonio Tauriello (b. 20 March 1931, died 20 April, 2011), Argentine composer, pianist, and conductor. Born in Buenos Aires, he studied composition with Alberto Ginastera at the National Conservatory, and piano with Walter Gieseking in Tucumán. A resident conductor with the opera and ballet at the Teatro Colón, he worked extensively in the United States as assistant director and conductor of the New York City Opera, the American Opera Theater at the Juilliard School of Music, and the Chicago Lyric Opera.
Tauriello was a member of the Agrupación Música Viva (AMV) in Buenos Aires, a group founded by Gerardo Gandini, Alcides Lanza, and Armando Krieger. The AMV ensemble presented premieres of his works, and with it Tauriello conducted performances of contemporary music in Argentina and New York. He also appeared as conductor at the Inter-American Music Festivals in Washington, D.C. In 1968 his Piano Concerto was premiered there, a work in which Tauriello sought to explore freer relationships between the soloist and the orchestra, with the piano part existing as an independent entity. Except for some synchronization cues, the pianist can choose the speed and pacing of musical phrases and the duration of individual notes.
Catherine Anahid "Cathy" Berberian
(July 4, 1925 – March 6, 1983) was an American mezzo-soprano and
composer based in Italy. She worked closely with many contemporary
avant-garde music composers, including Luciano Berio, Bruno Maderna,
John Cage, Henri
Pousseur, Sylvano Bussotti, Darius Milhaud, Roman Haubenstock-Ramati,
and Igor Stravinsky. She also interpreted works by Claudio Monteverdi,
Heitor Villa-Lobos, Kurt Weill, Philipp Zu Eulenburg and others.
As a recital curator, she presented several vocal genres in a classical context, including arrangements of songs by The Beatles, as well as folk songs from several countries and cultures. As a composer, she wrote Stripsody (1966), in which she exploits her vocal technique using comic book sounds (onomatopoeia), and Morsicat(h)y (1969), a composition for the keyboard (with the right hand only) based on Morse code.
From 1950 to 1964 Berberian was married to Luciano Berio, whom she met when they were students at the Milan Conservatory. They had one daughter, Cristina Berio, born in 1953. Berberian became Berio's muse and collaborator both during and after their marriage. Following her death, Berio composed Requies: in memoriam Cathy Berberian which premiered in Lausanne on March 26, 1984.
|Cardillac, Op. 39, is
an opera by Paul Hindemith in three acts and four scenes. The first
performance was at the Staatsoper, Dresden, on 9 November 1926. It
was promptly performed throughout Germany. The opera's Italian premiere
took place in 1948 at the Venice Biennale as part of the Venice Festival
of Contemporary Music XI. The American premiere took place at
the Santa Fe Opera in 1967 using a staging by director Bodo Igesz.
Hindemith revised both the score and the text because the musical idiom "seemed crude and undisciplined". This second version was first performed at the Zurich Stadttheater on 20 June 1952. Both versions were published, but after 1953, Hindemith sanctioned only the 1952 revised version for theatrical performances. However, after the composer's death in 1963, the original version became available again for production. There are 4 recordings currently on the market, and each uses the original 1926 version.
Karlheinz Stockhausen (22 August 1928 – 5 December 2007) was a German composer, widely acknowledged by critics as one of the most important but also controversial composers of the 20th and early 21st centuries. He is known for his groundbreaking work in electronic music, for introducing controlled chance (aleatory techniques or aleatoric musical techniques) into serial composition, and for musical spatialization.
Licht (Light), subtitled "Die sieben Tage der
Woche" (The Seven Days of the Week), is a cycle of seven operas composed
between 1977 and 2003. The composer described the work as an "eternal
spiral" because "there is neither end nor beginning to the week." Licht
consists of 29 hours of music.
Donnerstag aus Licht (Thursday from Light) is an opera by Karlheinz Stockhausen in a greeting, three acts, and a farewell, and was the first of seven to be composed for the opera cycle Licht: die sieben Tage der Woche (Light: The Seven Days of the Week). It was written between 1977 and 1980, with a libretto by the composer. Its second act, Michaels Reise um die Erde (Michael's Journey Around the Earth), has been performed and recorded individually.
given its staged premiere on 15 March 1981 by the La Scala Opera in the
Teatro alla Scala in Milan, but without the third act, which had
to be omitted due to a strike by the opera chorus of La Scala. They
had demanded soloists' bonuses because of one brief passage in act
3, and had been turned down by the management. Further performances without
the third act followed on 18, 21, 24, and 27 March. An agreement was
finally reached and the complete opera was finally performed on 3 April,
with two further performances on 5 and 7 April. Péter Eötvös
conducted, and played the Hammond organ in act 3, scene 2. Stockhausen
was the sound projectionist.
Donnerstag is scored for 14 performers (3 voices, 8 instrumentalists, 3 dancers) plus a choir, an orchestra, and tapes. In the larger context of Licht, Thursday is Michael's day. Thursday's exoteric (primary) colour is bright blue, and its esoteric (secondary) colours are purple and violet. Thursday is also the day of plants.On 19 December 1981, Donnerstag was awarded the Premio Critica Musicale F. Abbiati for "best new work of contemporary music".
Susan Mathieson Mayer, Director of Marketing and Communications with Lyric Opera of Chicago 1988-2013
Ardis Krainik hired Mathieson Mayer in 1988 to replace Danny Newman, who became famous for making season subscriptions a key part of the Lyric Opera marketing game plan. Mathieson Mayer also served under recently-retired General Director William Mason and Anthony Freud, who took the helm of the opera institution in the fall of 2011.
Noted Freud: "Susan has earned an international reputation for arts marketing and is widely acknowledged as one of the leading practitioners in the field today. She has made a major contribution to the company during her tenure and will be greatly missed by her colleagues, Lyric's Board of Directors and the artists."
For most of her time at Lyric, Mathieson Mayer was wildly successful at keeping every seat filled at Lyric Opera. In fact for 16 consecutive seasons — 1989/90 through 2004/05 — Mathieson Mayer sold out the Lyric season, a feat that has yet to be equaled in the performing arts field in America.
But as Mathieson Mayer is well aware, times have changed for the arts in recent years. And her marketing task at Lyric had become more daunting, as people's entertainment options began to expand and opera became a harder sell — especially for the younger audiences who will be needed to fill Lyric seats in years to come.
== From an article in Chicago Business Journal by Lewis Lazare, June 26, 2013
June 9, 2013
By John von Rhein Chicago Tribune
Bruno Bartoletti, the widely admired Italian conductor who served as artistic director of Lyric Opera of Chicago throughout a close association with the company that lasted a half-century, died early Sunday in a hospital in Florence, Italy, after a long illness.
His death, which came one day before his 87th birthday, was announced by the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the annual arts festival in Florence, of which city he was a lifelong resident.
Bartoletti was a beloved fixture at Lyric from his American debut with the theater in 1956, at 30, as a late replacement for his mentor, the revered maestro Tullio Serafin. Although the young Florentine was relatively unknown at the time, his skills were evident from the start and he soon established himself as master of the Italian repertory that earned Lyric the nickname “La Scala West.”
Carol Fox, who had just seized control of the two-year-old company after a rancorous power struggle with the company’s other co-founders, was loath to surrender power to anyone, but she was impressed enough with Bartoletti’s skills to name him Lyric’s co-artistic director with Pino Donati, a post they shared until 1974. That year Bartoletti became the company’s sole artistic director and principal conductor.
He conducted nearly 600 performances of 55 operas at Lyric between 1956 and 2007, a remarkable track record by any standard. One of his final appearances in Chicago was a sentimental return at the beginning of Lyric’s 2007-08 season to conduct Verdi’s “La Traviata,” one of four Italian opera staples he had led here during his first season with the company.
Bartoletti retired as artistic director in 1999, at which time he was given an emeritus title by then-general director William Mason. Along with Mason’s predecessors, Ardis Krainik and Fox, he greatly valued Bartoletti’s artistic counsel, company loyalty and friendship, as well as what Bartoletti contributed in general to Lyric’s artistic integrity over the years.
Not only did the modest, genial Bartoletti have a keen appreciation of great singers and great singing, but he also had a sharp eye for budding podium talent. He made certain Lyric brought in some of the best up-and-coming conductors whose strengths he believed would complement his own. Thanks to him, Riccardo Chailly and Daniele Gatti both made their American operatic debuts here when they were not widely known.
Beyond that, his vast working knowledge of opera and the mechanics of running the artistic end of an opera company made him Lyric’s most trusted consigliere for decades.
“Unlike so many music directors today, Bruno remained a constant presence at Lyric for the entire season, and that meant a great deal to Lyric,” Mason said. “That kind of longer, deeply committed association with a company is probably a thing of the past.”
Although the Italian opera repertory from Rossini to Luigi Dallapiccola was in Bartoletti’s blood, his intellectual affinity for modern and contemporary opera made him singularly adept as an interpreter of 20th century repertory, here and abroad.
At Lyric he introduced Strauss’ “Elektra,” Berg’s “Wozzeck,” Prokofiev’s “Angel of Fire” and “The Love for Three Oranges,” Bartok’s “Bluebeard’s Castle,” Shostakovich’s “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” and Janacek’s “Katya Kabanova.” An important Bartoletti first was his conducting the U.S. premiere of Britten’s “Billy Budd” with the Chicago company in 1970. He also instigated the commission that resulted in Lyric’s giving the world premiere of Krzysztof Penderecki’s “Paradise Lost” here in 1979.
He also led the Italian premieres of such major 20th century works as Shostakovich’s “The Nose” and Prokofiev’s “The Gambler,” also the world premiere of Ginastera’s “Don Rodrigo” in Buenos Aires.
Bartoletti built the Lyric Opera Orchestra into one of the finest opera ensembles in the world. As late as 2006, more than 90 percent of the musicians were his appointees. To this day veteran Lyric players speak fondly of his tutelage in matters of sound, style and pacing, and of the reverence he brought to everything he conducted.
Rather than pursue a high-powered international career, Bartoletti preferred working extensively in one opera house at a time, resisting temptations to spread himself too thinly all over the world. Still, his close, longtime ties with the theaters of Florence, Milan, Rome, Parma, Genoa, Bologna and elsewhere around the world made him a valuable talent scout for Lyric.
After a brief period as a flutist in the Maggio Musicale orchestra, Bartoletti became pianist at the center of vocal training attached to the Florence Teatro Comunale. He worked as an assistant to such major conductors as Artur Rodzinski, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Vittorio Gui and Serafin. The latter encouraged him to take up conducting. He made his conducting debut at the Teatro Comunale in 1953 with a production of Verdi’s “Rigoletto” prepared by Gui. He was named the company’s resident conductor in 1957.
Bartoletti held the rank of Cavaliere di Gran Croce della Repubblica Italiana, the highest honor the Italian government can bestow. A member of Rome’s Accademia di Santa Cecilia, he was also the recipient of the Italian music critics’ prestigious Abbiati Prize.
“I think I did many things for Chicago,” Bartoletti told the Tribune in 2006, the year of his golden anniversary with Lyric. “But Chicago did much more for me. This theater gave me something really essential. It created my (musical) personality. I will be eternally grateful to this theater and this city.”
Survivors include two daughters, Chiara and Maria; and five grandchildren. Rosanna Bartoletti, to whom he was married for 58 years, died in 2011.
A funeral is scheduled for Monday in Sesto Fiorentino, a Florence suburb where Bartoletti was born.
© 1981 & 1996 & 1998 Bruce Duffie
These conversations was recorded at the Opera House in Chicago on October 6, 1981, February 19, 1996, and November 2, 1998. Portions were broadcast on WNIB several times, and a brief segment was posted on the Lyric Opera Website in 2004 as part of their 50th Season celebration of Jubilarians. A portion was transcribed and published in Opera Scene magazine in May, 1982. This transcription was made in 2021, and posted on this website at that time. My thanks to British soprano Una Barry for her help in preparing this website presentation.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.