Last night we played a great arias concert, and once again it was an all Verdi program. Baritone Željko Lučić was the featured soloist, along with singers Aida Čorbadžić (my favorite soprano at the Narodno Pozorište), tenor Amir Saračević and bass Ivan Šarić. I'm almost tired of Verdi, but if I have to play something over and over it could be much worse... It is Verdi's 150th birthday this year, which explains the enthusiasm for his music. (Besides the fact that he was one of the most popular opera composers in history, of course.)
Our conductor was Ivo Lipajović, we've had him a few other times and he's one of my favorite conductors here. He has a very clear vision of what he wants and doesn't allow the orchestra to pull him in a different direction, like many of the other conductors we have had. He also takes the Nabucco overture as fast as
I think it should be.
We played the overture to Nabucco, along with arias from Nabucco, Macbeth, Il Trovatore, Simon Bocanegra, Un Ballo in Maschera, La Traviata and ending the concert with four Rigoletto arias in a row. Željko Lučić has been performing in Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera, so closing out the program with his big arias was a great ending. The audience loved him, and he really turned it on for the performance. During rehearsals I wasn't as impressed with him as I was last night, he brought out the big guns in performance and delivered amazing results.
I've played more opera in the last seven months than I ever have in my life. It's not that different from playing in a musical pit, at least not as drastically as I imagined. Operas take more time, concentration and transposition skills, and in my opinion the music can be substantially more interesting, which in turn translates to more difficult. But singers are singers, and it takes the same attention to the conductor and keeping your head from getting buried in the book.
It was a good concert with an amazing group of singers. Željko Lučić was outstanding, and as always the singers from our opera company put on a great performance.