Fabio Luisi Picks Up The Met's Famed Baton
On Thursday night, the Metropolitan Opera is welcoming a new conductor who is filling in for the ailing James Levine, but as NY1's Arts reporter Stephanie Simon reports, even if Levine returns in the spring, it is time for opera lovers and New Yorkers to get to know new principal conductor Fabio Luisi.
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New York City, meet the new maestro. Fabio Luisi has been passed a big baton at the Metropolitan Opera.
In early September, the Met announced that Luisi would be the new principal conductor, replacing the legendary James Levine, who is battling health problems.
Perhaps in deference to his 40 years at the Met, Levine, or "Jimmy" to his friends, continues in the role of music director and hopes to return later this season.
"There are some day-to-day decisions, such decisions I am more involved than Jimmy, of course, because in this situation, he is sick and so he cannot be called every day," says Luisi. "But, for what concerns the big picture decisions, he's still in charge."
NY1 caught a dress rehearsal for "Don Giovanni," which opens this week. It will be Luisi's first appearance as principal conductor, although he has performed there many times as a guest conductor.
Mozart’s masterpiece about morality excites him.
"Well it's a journey to hell, actually. He murders an older man, he tried to rape another woman, so it's really step by step closer and closer to his destiny," says Luisi.
As for his own destiny, Luisi is the heir apparent to take over entirely for Levine, whenever that day comes. Luisi and his family have relocated to the Upper West Side.
As for getting to know the city, Luisi says he is especially enjoying the restaurants. Luckily for him, a vigourous performance is also a vigorous workout.
While fans worry and wonder about the beloved Levine's health and prospects for returning, Luisi seems satisfied for now in his current role.
"The Met is still one of the most interesting houses, because the quality of the substance of the Met is very high," says Luisi. "The orchestra is probably the best opera orchestra in the world, we have an outstanding chorus, and we are playing many, many pieces."
Despite his serious tone and understated demeanor, this Italian gastronome does hope to knock New Yorkers' socks off with his music and maybe his sense of style too.