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Fabio Mastrangelo gave an interview to Komsomolskaya Pravda


Before the Sixth St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum Komsomolskaya Pravda met with Artistic Director of the Music Hall Theatre

- What will occur from 16th to 18th of November will be the Sixth Cultural Forum held in Saint Petersburg. For this reason alone we can say that this event is of great importance for the city and for the country – says Fabio Mastrangelo with animation. This is a platform which will get together people of art from all over the world. They will be musicians, writers, artists, film people. We, petersburgers, are in fortunate position: we don`t have to travel anywhere to meet them all (laughing)

-  During the Forum you will present «Porgy and Bess» opera by George Gershwin. Jazz, blues, fishing village... This thing is quiet exotic for our country!

 - This season we dedicated a Season Ticket in our theatre to Gershwin and his time and we are very glad that the concert of November, 16 coincided with dates of the Forum. Thus we have an opportunity to present this opera to the wide audience. “Porgy and Bess” is rarely staged in Russia – mainly because vocal parts are difficult to perform, as Gershwin filled the opera with typical American genres – jazz, blues, spirituals… What's important is that American artists Christine Jobson and Michael Preacely invited by the U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg will be the soloists of the performance.
- The program of the Forum features a project «Accord of 1917».
- Yes, this is one more project we bring to the Forum. This is a discussion on how the Revolution in Russia has influenced not only historical events but also music all over the world. It is especially important for us, musicians.  Owing to the Revolution, Russian music had a flowering of mass genres, introduced them to exclusive genres searched for a new system of imagery and language.

Let me give you an example. Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Prokofiev.  They are greatest of the greatest. They all left Russia because of the Revolution. These changes had an impact on their works. For example, Sergey Rachmaninov emigrated to the USA and lived in Beverly Hills having no chance to come back to Russia. But it was there that he composed the most Russian music in my opinion.  Having lost Russia he certainly loved, he began to cherish it more.

- So did Stravinsky?

- Stravinsky retained Russian traditions in himself and owing to it he enriched culture of Europe and America.
And what was Sergey Prokofiev`s fate? He found himself in the West, but came back to USSR in 1936. And he died on March 5, 1953 at the age of 61. It was the day when Stalin died. Beside this event the death of such giant as Prokofiev went unnoticed.  And this is very sad. All of these events we can link with the revolution which had a huge impact on music.

- So, revolution is good? But for it there would not be genius works.

- Revolution has already happened. It doesn`t really matter whether it was good or bad. It is important not to efface it from our memory.  And, as my father used to say, draw conclusions. Whatever happens, be it good or bad, always draw conclusions.


-  Let’s go back to or times. Petersburg is still called a cultural capital of Russia. Do you agree?

- Yes, it is one of cultural capitals not only of Russia but also of the world. City, where a great numbers of museums, theatres, concert halls is concentrated. There are Mariinsky Theatre, the Hermitage, and The Russian Museum, and our theatre, and Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama Theatre and the Philharmonia.

Lately Petersburg has become a bit inert, though. But I don`t think it`s bad. There are always peaks and valleys coming one after another.

- The first time you came in Petersburg was…

- In 1999, in June.

- Could you imagine then that you will live here?

- I didn`t just imagine, I made this decision. I was struck with the beauty of Saint Petersburg and fell in love with it at the first sight.

- How the city has changed since then?

- Changes are huge and to the better. For example, I consider the Western High-speed diameter one of the most convenient highways I`ve ever driven.  Fifteen minutes – and you are at the Gulf of Finland. You can compare Petersburg with London or New-York. We are equal to them. But in spite of progress the city has retained its beauty.

- The Italians are said to be gifted musically. Do the Russians have music taste?

-  There is awesome number of talented people in Russia. Trust me; I know it for sure because I tour throughout the country. You can meet musically gifted people everywhere.

For the last 100 years Italy and Russia went through difficult times.  A huge pressure was put on the Russians and Italians. And I think this is where desire to create rich inner world, desire to create beauty came from. And it became an impulse for such number of talented people emerging.

- Some say, that a conductor should be a dictator. But you make an impression of gentle and inoffensive person.

- I do not agree with this statement. I often wonder if conductor Arturo Toscanini could achieve such success if he had lived now but behave in the same way? A doubt, as such behavior (this outstanding master was impulsive and explosive person) is considered inappropriate to conductors. One can`t be tough as dictator. Democracy should dominate in art.

- How do you select people for your orchestra The Saint-Petersburg Northern Synfonia? Do you have favorites?

- You mentioned dictator, and I would compare conductor to housefather. You became a parent in some way when you take charge of collective and especially if you create it from the ground up. Very seldom parents love one child more than other. So I try to treat artists like my children and I love them all equally (laughing)

We select musicians on the basis of competitive audition. All decisions I make only together with my concertmasters. It never happens that I just wanted so and I decided so. Otherwise we will come to dictatorship.

Fabio MASTRANGELO born on November 27, 1965, in Bari, Italy. He is one of the high-demand conductors of Russia and the world. In October of 2011 obtained Russian citizenship. Domiciles in Saint Petersburg. Since 2013 he has been Artistic Director of the St. Petersburg State Music Hall Theatre. In 2015, he founded The Northern Sinfonietta Chamber Orchestra, in 2016 - The Saint-Petersburg Northern Synfonia Orchestra.
Author: Maxim SYU
Source: Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper

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