Young musicians selected for a path of training and in a depth analysis on the Italian Opera. From Verdi to Toscanini, a project in collaboration with Fondazione Prada
Fondazione Prada: Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy
In 1993 Fondazione Prada was established by Miuccia Prada and her husband Patrizio Bertelli as an institution promoting reflection about contemporary art and culture. They wanted to make culture attractive to the young, a need in everyone’s life. «An intuition» says Miuccia «After many years, I realize that my main quality is intuition – it would have been good to have a place where people could live with ideas». Culture, she insists, must come to be perceived not as an extra, as a form of decoration, but as deeply useful. In what way is it useful? «It can answer political and even existential questions».
This year, the wide and adaptable spaces of Deposito within Fondazione Prada’s venue will welcome the seventh edition of “Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy”, which will take place from 4 to 15 December 2021. Maestro Riccardo Muti will conduct the Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini and undertake a training project addressed to young conductors and répétiteurs from all over the world. The public will be able to take part in the whole rehearsal process and concerts that will be focused on Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco.
The attention towards musical education of new generations has always been a key aspect in Muti’s artistic activity. Through the Italian Opera Academy established in 2015, the Italian conductor aims at passing on to the young artists what he learned from great masters in a lineage that in the history finds him related to Giuseppe Verdi, through Arturo Toscanini and his own teacher Antonino Votto. The secrets of musical construction are passed on from Maestro to his students in a natural connection, leading them to the final goal of interpretation.
«In Verdi there is a science in the construction of the scores that is important to know to make justice to an author who was noble even when he wrote simple things, apparently» explains Muti «Verdi’s work is theater, always: excavated, sought-after, studied with perfection, turning the deep meaning of the word, silence. His theater is cut into crystal: it is just necessary to want it and know how to read it».
Fondazione Prada and its dialogue with music
The upcoming collaboration with Fondazione Prada allows it to expand the activities by taking an interest in classical music, after having presented a project that explored electronic music and other genres between 2018 and 2019. The club nights in those years have proven to expand Fondazione Prada fields of engagement even further, which already includes research and musical experimentation within its cultural offering and thus managing to create an unprecedented resonance between the two realms.
A vision brought by Craig Richards, who aimed to bring different audiences to the vocation of the Fondazione Prada, showing that culture is as engaging and attractive, as it is useful and necessary. The idea behind the projects based on music is that language can be stimulating and provocative, music can bring inspiration, fun and mystery. «My main objective is to recognize a common thread that runs through music and in some way unifies it. Music with its depth can generate great pleasure» explained Richards.
The connection with Riccardo Muti represents the opportunity to strengthen a dialogue with young artists engaged in an intense experience of learning and research. This initiative led Fondazione Prada to develop an incisive role towards new generations in the belief that study is one of the most effective tools for artistic and personal growth. It was only after the Fondazione Prada foundation that Miuccia and her husband began buying art. The speed of fashion is useful in the art world, an obvious collaboration, two realms must influence each other.
Maestro Riccardo Muti’s education and legacy
Riccardo Muti’s desire to devote even more to the training of young musicians was realized in 2015, when he founded the first edition of the Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy which took place with great acclaim at Teatro Alighieri in Ravenna. The purpose was to pass on to young participants from all over the world the experience and lessons the Italian conductor has gained, and thus giving the right relevance to Italian Opera that is abused in an ignoble way, making the audience understand how complex is the path to accomplish an opera production. Since its foundation, it has followed the organization In Italy and Japan, where the project has been presented from 2019, in collaboration with the Spring Festival of Tokyo. «A drop in the ocean does not change the world, but it is always a drop and I thought I would make use of what I learned from the teachers I had and from the great ones I met» Muti explained.
He studied piano and composition at the conservatory nearby Bari with Nino Rota, the one who Muti credits with convincing him to become a real musician. Born in 1941 in Naples, his first piano and violin lessons come from his father, a physician and able tenor, who encouraged all six of his sons to study music. He began his conducting studies at the Verdi Conservatory in Milan under Antonino Votto, principal assistant to Arturo Toscanini, whose view was based on the belief that the arms are the extension of the mind, and furthermore he used to say that the conductor must have breathed the dust of the stage.
Muti’s ongoing research on young generations is based on a far more recognition of his own profession. Conducting, as the Maestro revealed, has often become a profession of convenience and young people often get into conducting without long and serious study. Today, he insisted, many conductors use the podium for excessive gesticulation, trying to make an impression with an audience more interested in what they see than what they hear. Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy was created thus continuing an important chain in the history of musical interpretation.
It supports the teaching of young musicians as Muti believes they can be just as useful in the future as they are today in theaters, schools, and in all those circumstances where a glimpse of the past with a yet a view of the future can be an incentive to revitalize something that might otherwise be lost. «I want to leave this world thinking of an audience that listens to Italian opera music with the same respect with which it listens to the music of Strauss, Wagner and» the conductor explained «Young directors must be ready to pick up the master’s wand, and in particular, his teaching: only in this way will their professional life change forever».
Culture, music and the generational passage of knowledge
After forays into art, cinema, architecture, urban planning, sound and neuroscience, Fondazione Prada opens up to classical music for the first time, confirming the interdisciplinary character of its cultural commitment. Since its inception, it has been an active part especially in the art scene, both in Milan and Venice, curating and presenting various exhibitions with a particular focus on the contemporary Italian art scene. A cultural platform which is part of a growing trend of privately owned cultural institutions being opened by fashion brands, such as The Fondation Cartier by Jean Novel and Frank Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris.
The benefits of these relationships are twofold: brands not only provide stable and supportive patronage to the arts, but also they are raising the public’s awareness of modern architecture practice. This year Fondazione Prada resolves to develop an incisive relation with young artists to reiterate that education is one of the most effective tools for artistic career, together with personal achievement, which passes through new forms of awareness of the value of culture, defined by Riccardo Muti as the sense of beauty, harmony and symphony. Culture becomes a form of ethics, while symphony means playing together in a generational passage of knowledge.
As the conductor explained: «I am eighty years old. I belong to a world where I have assimilated information that is not found in books today, but is part of a legendary world. A knowledge that will make the students of the Academy more complete musicians». Approaching the musicians experience as a whole, Fondazione Prada focused on ideas and the way in which mankind has transformed ideas into specific disciplines and cultural products, from philosophy to art and science, in a universe which is for Riccardo Muti crisscrossed by sound rays that reach people, and that is the reason why the need of music arises.
Riccardo Muti is an Italian conductor. Muti has previously held posts at the Maggio Musicale in Florence, the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, and the Salzburg Whitsun Festival. Muti is a prolific recording artist, receiving numerous honours and awards. In a 2015 Bachtrack poll, he was ranked by music critics as the world’s fifth best living conductor.
Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy
The seventh edition of Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy, organized for the first time in collaboration with Fondazione Prada, will take place in Milan from 4 to 15 December 2021, with the public taking part of the whole rehearsal process and concerts focused on Nabucco, conducted by Maestro Riccardo Muti.