Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall (photo by Todd Rosenberg).
Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) music director Riccardo Muti will make his return to the Orchestra Hall podium for his final CSO residency of the 2016 - 2017 season which includes subscription concerts featuring a program of Italian opera masterworks. Muti will lead the CSO and Chorus, bass soloist Riccardo Zanellato and the Chicago Children’s Choir in works by Verdi, Puccini, Mascagni and Boito. Muti also will lead a CSO open rehearsal for invited senior and community groups on June 21 and participates in a post-concert CD signing of the new CSO Resound release Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor —available worldwide today— following his final concert of the season on June 25.
Muti’s June program (June 22-25) features the Chicago Symphony Chorus, prepared by Duain Wolfe, in some of Giuseppe Verdi’s most memorable opera choruses including “Va, pensiero,” more commonly known as the chorus of the Hebrew slaves, and “Gli arredi festivi,” from Nabucco. Other choruses include “Patria oppressa!” from Macbeth and the famous Anvil Chorus from Il trovatore. Muti will lead the CSO in the overtures to Nabucco and I vespri siciliani, both of which Muti and the Orchestra performed to critical acclaim during the CSO’s 2017 European tour performances. The orchestra will also by featured in the Intermezzo from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut and one of opera’s most famous orchestral excerpts, the Intermezzo from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana. To conclude the Italian opera program, Muti will lead the assembled forces of the CSO and Chorus, the Chicago Children’s Choir, prepared by Josephine Lee, and bass soloist Riccardo Zanellato in Arrigo Boito’s Prologue to Mefistofele, a powerful and dramatic musical portrayal of Mefistofele as he confidently proclaims to heaven that he can win the soul of Doctor Faust. Only performed once before in the CSO’s history, Boito’s Prologue to Mefistofele was included in a program that re-opened Milan’s Teatro alla Scala after World War II in 1948 and was led by Arturo Toscanini.
The June season finale program reunites Muti with Italian bass Riccardo Zanellato, who has been a frequent artistic collaborator for many years including previous CSO appearances in Verdi’s Requiem and Schubert’s Mass No. 5 in A-Flat Major. Zanellato has established an active international career in the opera world, having appeared on some of the world’s most prestigious operatic stages, including Paris, Milan, Bologna, Barcelona and Rome. While his repertoire includes works by the great Italian bel canto composers, Zanellato remains a passionate advocate of the works of Verdi.
Widely considered to be one of today’s preeminent Verdi interpreters, Muti has previously led the CSO and Chorus in performances of Verdi’s Requiem, as well as concert performances of Verdi’s Shakespearean operas, Macbeth, Otello and Falstaff. Of 2016’s performance of Falstaff, The New York Times remarked, “To hear this conductor in this repertory is like looking out a newly cleaned window: Over the months or years, you may have gotten used to the thin film of grime, but now everything is brighter, sharper.”
The concerts take place June 22 through 25 at Symphony Center. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 800-223-7114 ; online at cso.org, or at the Symphony center box office: 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60604.
Artists, programs and prices are subject to change.
Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts