Chicago Sun-Times and suntimes.com, March 30, 2011 5:38 p.m. CDT
Full speed ahead for Muti
Back in Chicago, conductor prepares for April concerts
By ANDREW PATNER
Riccardo Muti, seen leading the Chicago Symphony (concertmaster Robert Chen at left) last September, is preparing for April concerts. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Riccardo Muti is back on the job on South Michigan Avenue.
After being injured in a fall during a rehearsal last month, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director has managed to pack more into seven weeks of recovery than most people might. That’s especially the case considering that Muti underwent facial and jaw reconstruction and had a pacemaker implanted.
“It was a kind of destiny -- that this happened in Chicago, a city with both such advanced doctors but also such caring ones, that I did not lose any teeth, that I did not feel any physical pain, that I did not injure an eye or my skull,” said a rested-looking Muti, 69, in an interview Tuesday evening in his basement dressing room suite at Orchestra Hall.
Earlier in the day, he met with his oral and facial surgeon and his cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and was given a clean bill of health from them, Muti said. They endorsed the steps he has taken to speed his full recovery, including pacing himself, temporarily limiting the upward movement of his left arm, and tolerating “a soon-to-vanish existence of a very prominent ‘s’ sound when I speak that makes people in Italy think that I am from Bologna,” Muti laughed.
Four days ahead of schedule, the conductor returned Monday evening to Chicago to catch up with administrative duties and begin preparations for concert performances of Verdi’s opera Otello and other programs next month with the CSO, Chicago Symphony Chorus, and vocal soloists in Chicago and at New York’s fabled Carnegie Hall.
Earlier this month while in Italy, Muti gained international headlines by becoming only the second recipient of the $1 million Birgit Nilsson Prize, endowed by the late Swedish dramatic soprano. (Supertenor Plácido Domingo was the first, in 2009).
Muti was in the news again when he took on the Italian political establishment, including powerful and controversial prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, to restore cultural funding to the national budget.
He linked this apparently successful campaign -- “of which,” he said, “I am but the edge of an iceberg of all of those who work in culture in Italy” -- to performances he conducted in Rome of Verdi’s early opera Nabucco, which also commemorated the 150th anniversary of Italian reunification on March 17, 1851.
A fuller account of the interview with Muti and his recent activities and observations will appear in the “Show” section of Sunday's Sun-Times (April 3, 2011).