Sunday, May 27, 2007

Jet set maestro's swan-song

A reader in Paris tells me that Valery Gergiev (left) failed to conduct a performance of Lohengrin at the Opéra National de Paris at the Bastille last night due to travel problems. Dresden born Michael Güttler deputised at the last minute and made a big impact. Güttler is a very talented young conductor who is making a career out of picking up the ball in Wagner after Gergiev has dropped it - he first came to prominence when he deputised for Gergiev in the Ring and Parsifal at the Marinsky in 2003.

An apocryphal story tells how Herbert von Karajan gets into a waiting limousine in Vienna during his time with the State Opera there, and the driver asks him where he wants to go. "It does not matter", he responds, "I'm wanted everywhere." What a shame that forty years on maestros are still admired for the tempi of their travel arrangements rather than the tempi of their performances.

There is now legal protection which gives passengers a refund when a plane is late or cancelled in the EU. How about a similar refund to concert-goers for no-show conductors and soloists to focus attention on travel planning? Other examples from readers of jet-set musicians finding the boarding gate closed will be published here. Meanwhile I suspect Michael Güttler will be getting a lot more career opportunities courtesy of galloping Gergiev.

Now see Karajan's private jet and motor-bike
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