It’s a big week for Riccardo Muti. On the eve of his 74th birthday on July 28, the music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra wrapped up the first season of his Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy with a gala concert performance of Verdi’s Falstaff. 

This summer, Muti launched the monthlong opera training sessions, leading sessions for conductors, opera coaches and singers. Rehearsals were open to the public, and the event culminated with a concert July 27 featuring academy students and Muti’s Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra in Falstaff.

In Verdi, Muti has said, there is a perfect verticality between words and music; every note, every chord is regulated by the sense of the word. A conductor must musically and dramaturgically interpret Verdi’s works with meticulous care. Precisely for this reason he chose Falstaff, he said in an article published in Ravenna Today, “because it is the most challenging work to demonstrate the indissoluble symphonic relationship between words and music.”

Meanwhile, as Maestro Muti celebrates his birthday, the CSO invites well-wishers to share their greetings to the maestro on the CSO’s Facebook page.

TOP: Maestro Muti leads the CSO in a Concert for Chicago at Millennium Park. | Todd Rosenberg Photography