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Chief Conductor of the Wiener Symphoniker
Fabio Luisi's first collaboration with the Wiener Symphoniker took place at the Bregenzer Festspiele in two opera productions, Giordano's Fedora (1993) and Zandonai's Francesca da Rimini (1994), which had nothing to do with the orchestra's core repertoire. Eight years would pass before Luisi conducted two momentous concerts in the Musikverein with Bruckner’s Second Symphony and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique as the major works on the programme.
It is rarely the case that 128 individuals, whose opinions of musical quality sometimes diverge greatly, unanimously offer the position of Chief Conductor to someone after such a brief introductory period. (The last time it happened was a half century ago with Wolfgang Sawallisch.) In the years since 2005, it has become abundantly clear that the decision was a wise one. Fabio Luisi was the first Chief Conductor to lead a lakeside stage production (Verdi’s Il trovatore) at the Bregenzer Festspiele after just taking up the post and to use his power of persuasion to realize the musicians’ long-cherished wish to play in the Festspielhaus: the hall offers far better conditions than the “concrete bathtub” beneath the lakeside stage, is free of inclement weather conditions and very conducive to musical quality. The three orchestral concerts that Luisi conducted at the Bregenzer Festspiele in 2006 featured Austrian music from Haydn to Mahler and Herbert Willi, a veritable calling card of representative selections from his widely diverse symphonic repertoire.
Luisi characterized the programmatic focus of his music directorship as an increased commitment to the rather neglected music of Schumann and Mendelssohn, as well as that of Franz Schmidt, whose Book with Seven Seals and entire symphonic oeuvre have been performed. Other concert events of note include the great choral works: Mozart’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, Brahms’ German Requiem, Mendelssohn’s oratorios, Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, and Mahler’s Eighth Symphony. In the operatic sphere, Luisi has programmed Mozart’s La finta semplice and Magic Flute, as well as Cherubini’s Medee and Rossini’s Il turco in Italia with the orchestra at the Theater an der Wien. The April 2008 concert performance of Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecci with Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanča in the Konzerthaus struck a very special chord.
Leading tours naturally falls within the province of the Chief Conductor. Luisi’s have included the annual January concerts in Austrian provincial capitals, two tours each to Japan and Spain, and short, highly celebrated tours like the ones in February 2006 to Zagreb, Laibach and Budapest with Lang Lang as soloist in a Chopin piano concerto. November 2011 will see another highlight of the collaboration, an extended tour of the USA with concerts in New York and Chicago, among others. Fortunately, popular events such as open air concerts and the traditional Spring in Vienna concert are also mostly the job of the director.
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