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11/1/95: What is the most difficult score you have ever had to conduct? Why?

Iíve always felt that nothing is easy; everything is difficult to do well. In purely technical terms, however, Elektra, Salome, and Manon Lescaut have real technical challenges: They are rhythmically quirky. There are multiple voices in each instrumental section (more divisi) requiring careful balance. The orchestration is exceedingly dense for the kinds of voices involved so that accompaniment requires finesse in the orchestra. And, beyond that, they are musically and technically hard for individual instrumentalists and singers; and thatís a conducting challenge also. Roughly similar, on the instrumental side, are many of the works of Mahler.

Further, in theater music, there is an additional dimension: Some works are more wedded than others to the culture from which they arose; they are less international than others. I feel that they require a real effort on the part of interpreters to understand those cultural underpinnings. Some of the works that require (or would require) this extra effort on my part are: the romantic Viennese operettas after Johann Strauss, French operettas like those of Offenbach, Die Meistersinger, Der Rosenkavalier, and Arabella. While I have often performed the bel canto repertory, works like I Capuletti ed I Montecchi and LíItaliana in Algeri require special effort on the part of someone new to the style.

©1995 by Joseph Rescigno. The text here may be freely reproduced for non-commercial purposes as long as credit is given.

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