As the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Europe Tour 2020 entered its third week, the musicians traveled to a city dear to Music Director Riccardo Muti: Naples.
The tour stop marked a homecoming for Maestro Muti; born in Naples, he later studied piano under Vincenzo Vitale at the city’s Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella, graduating with distinction.
In Naples, Maestro Muti and the CSO performed Jan. 18 at the historic Teatro di San Carlo, Europe’s oldest continuously operating opera theater, dating to 1737. The concert marked the orchestra’s first return to the theater with Muti since 2012. That appearance was the CSO’s only previous tour stop in Naples. For this concert, the CSO and Muti performed Prokofiev’s Suite from Romeo and Juliet and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 (From the New World).
In the capacity audience were many Italian dignitaries, including Luigi de Magistris, mayor of Naples, and Salvo Nastasi, minister of cultural heritage and tourism.
As he introduced an encore to thunderous applause, Muti told the audience: “Although I’m 100 percent Italian, I’m 200 percent southern Italian.” He went on to say how special it was for him to return to his home city and the historic Teatro di San Carlo, which counts opera greats Rossini and Donizetti among its former music directors.
Muti then announced that the CSO would play the intermezzo from the Giordano’s opera Fedora, noting that the work’s famous aria “Amor ti vieta” declares that “love itself bars you from not loving.”
After the concert, Maestro Muti and Cristina Mazzavillani Muti hosted CSO musicians and distinguished guests at a post-concert dinner featuring traditional Neapolitan cuisine. Maestro Muti thanked the musicians for a wonderful artistic partnership over his 10 years as music director and marvelous performances during the recent tour. He also thanked Natasi, minister of cultural heritage, for a renewed commitment to provide additional support for the training of Italy’s next generation of musicians.
Next the CSO returns to Florence for the first time since 1974. That concert will be followed by a stop at La Scala in Milan, with the final tour appearance in Lugano, Switzerland, on Jan. 23.
TOP: Muti and the CSO perform at the historic Teatro di San Carlo, Europe’s oldest continuously operating opera theater, dating to 1737. | ©Todd Rosenberg Photography 2020