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Charles Dutoit: "It's terrible to go back to war"


Here the famous conductor anticipates details of Resurrection, Mahler's symphony with an impressive staging by Romeo Castellucci with which the Colón celebrates the 40th anniversary of democracy. He will be in La Rural, with exhumation of bodies and Acnur as the protagonist.

Charles Dutoit, a living legend of music, at 86 years old, took a few days off in


, between his indefatigable tours of



In December of last year he received the “Una Vita nella Musica” award in


, a recognition that he shares with

Arthur Rubinstein


Mstislav Rostropovich


Zubin Mehta


Leonard Bernsein

, among many others.

"When I received the award, I was very moved," says Dutoit from his residence in


, from where he spoke with


, via zoom days before traveling to



“Because in that city I spent a very important moment of my life.

The first time I traveled to Italy was in the summer of 1955, I was 18 years old and had a scholarship to study at the

Bendetto Marcello

Conservatory , in



It was my first contact with Italy and I became completely addicted to the country and its culture, its painters:






, and all those artists.

After receiving the award, I gave a concert at

La Fenice

, and it was a happy moment.”

The horse, white and with long manes, walks on the mud.

The fury of the strings unleashes the drama.

Dutoit will be in Buenos Aires, conducting the

Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra

, for the opening of the season at the

Teatro Colón


It is a private concert, it will be a tribute from the Theater to the 40 years of the recovery of democracy


Argentina, and the celebration will take place in La Rural.

The work that Dutoit is going to conduct is the imposing

Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection”, by Gustav Mahler

, with a stage production by

Romeo Castellucci

, one of the most important masters of the current scene.

The impressive performance, presented last year at the

Aix-en-Provence Festival,

will be led in its local version by soprano

Jaquelina Livieri

and mezzo-soprano

Guadalupe Barrientos


The proposal is also part of

Divina Italia

, a collaboration between the Teatro Colón with the

Italian Embassy

in Argentina and the

Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Buenos Aires

focused on covering the legacy of Italian musical art.

Dutoit talks animatedly about his upcoming visit to Buenos Aires, the first of two this year.

In July he will return to conduct Stravinsky

's opera

The Rake's Race

, and will participate as a guest conductor at the Argerich Festival.

UNHCR staff at the center of the scene.

“I love Latin America.

For me, Buenos Aires is the center, with the

Teatro Colón

, ”says the teacher, and asks how things are going in the city.

Later, he comments on the hot Buenos Aires summers and, to contrast, he shows the black and white landscape that can be seen from his window, after an abundant snowfall.

Quickly, he gets into the subject of the drama of proportions that is Mahler's Second Symphony.

“The symphony is called 'Resurrection', but that title does not appear in the score because it was not put by Mahler but by the critics and the public”, explains the conductor, adding: “But it is a symphony with a chorus, like the

Ninth Beethoven's symphony

, and the last movement begins with the word

Die Auferstehung

, which means resurrection.

It is the title of a poem by

Friedrich Klopstock

, a great German poet of the 18th-19th century, Mahler took four lines and the rest he wrote.

– The work was interpreted in the Vatican as a Christian affirmation, on Mount Masada as a symbol of Jewish renewal and also in communist China.

And now the Teatro Colón is scheduled to celebrate 40 years of the recovery of democracy.

Why does this symphony lend itself to so many meanings?

–The theme of the resurrection can be adjusted to all conditions.

But the music of the


goes on, and you can give it any meaning you want, that's the way music is.

You can take a piece of music and attach personal meaning to it.

Jaquelina Livieri, soprano singer.

–Mahler had written a program for the symphony that he later withdrew.


When he played the work in


, in 1901, he wrote a program to explain his music: it was the story of someone who died, and each movement represented parts of his life.

I think Mahler thought of a kind of souvenir of what that person was.

– Is that program important to interpret the work?

I think it's interesting to read the sources of your inspiration.

But the work can be reproduced without all that.

The music is so dramatic that it takes you completely, which is why I guess Mahler ruled out these explanations because the music is enough.

And as a performer, you have to convey to the public the way you bring this work to life.

Guadalupe Barrientos, the mezzo-soprano singer.

–How is the interaction with the staging?

–As this performance was done only once, I never played Mahler's Symphony with a scene.

I didn't see it live, but I did see it on video.

It is difficult to describe it, it is a beautiful, impressive and very dramatic production.

Castellucci is a great director.

It premiered last year at the

Festival de Provence


The production follows the music, contrary to what happens in an opera.

–The theme of death, which so obsessed Mahler, runs through all his work, and this one in particular, but with a hopeful ending.

–He was always obsessed by the condition of man, by the question of life and death.

There is a whole story behind the first movement of this symphony.

He had an affair with a girl named Marion von Weber, married to the grandson of the composer

Carl Maria von Weber


Mahler was in love with her and wanted to live with her.

They began an intense romance, and at one point he bought two train tickets to elope with her, but Marion didn't show up.

It was a great tragedy for him.

And as a reaction to what had happened, he put together a macabre staging of his own funeral.

He filled her room with flowers and crowns.

Marion visited him and asked him to get everything out.

In that room he wrote the first movement of the symphony.

–The original title of the first movement was Todtenfeier, which means funeral rites.

–Yes, later on this huge, philosophical funeral march became the opening movement of the “Resurrection” Symphony.

The movement, moreover, is connected with the long and very beautiful poem by


, the most famous Polish poet.

This was in 1886, Mahler was 26 years old.

Five or six years later, he wrote the other movements and it became the Second Symphony.

Resurrection, in all its splendor.

–Even in the drama, Mahler leaves room for the trivial to coexist, the irony of which so much has been theorized in the composer's music.

I mean the third movement, the Scherzo, where the word “humor” is written on the score.

–Mahler uses a clarinet in the Scherzo, very high, and writes “with humor”.

It's all there.

One word to give an idea of ​​the character of how to play this line of the clarinet.

I don't think that term "humor" is related to the whole movement.

It is related to this specific melody line.

–But he is detaching himself from death, prepares the climate to get there with the Ländler of the second movement.

–Yes, before the third movement, there is a Ländler.

The melody has all the character of the beautiful Malherian melodies.

And yes, it no longer has anything to do with death.

And in the third movement, the Scherzo, it's like someone's everyday life.

The character description of the everyday life of the character, or whatever you want to call it, referred to in the first movement.

Curiously, the second movement is in three times and the Scherzo too.

It is very rare in the history of the symphony to have two movements with the same bar, one after the other.

–The idea that there is a return, a resurrection, gave Mahler peace of mind in his obsession with death.

Is the last movement a kind of balance to the mournful tone of the first, and a response by the composer to the tragic condition of humanity?

–In a sense, yes;

there is a balance.

The text of the final movement, as I told you, is based on the poem

Die Auferstehung.

Charles Dutoit has over 200 recordings and multiple awards.

–Maybe Mahler's conversion from Judaism to Catholicism had to do with his belief in the resurrection.

–Mahler was Jewish and worked with a number of things that were religious and non-religious.

He converted to


because of




, so that he could work at the Vienna Opera.

I don't think you have to be a Catholic or a Jew or whatever to understand the resurrection and the way Mahler appropriates it.

–Also in the fourth movement


(Pristine Light), the mentions of God and angels connect with Christian doctrine.

-It's true.

All this is very strange.

He was Jewish, Marion Weber too.

–Are you a person with religious convictions or do you prefer to seek spirituality outside of religion?

–It could take us hours to talk about this topic, and I don't want to confess all my religious issues to him (laughs).

But I can tell you that I am not a Catholic, I was born and raised a Protestant.

My religious upbringing was under



I believe that the relationship with the mystery of creation exists and I still have this obsession to discover how the beauty of the world and life is possible, its diversity, from a simple insect to man.

It is very mysterious to me.

Science has gone


long way but hasn't created life yet.

The creation of life remains a mystery.

It's still part of the big question.

–He always traveled a lot, he got to know many cultures.

What is his view of his current world?

The world right now is so bad.

It is terrible to see that we return to wars, to people killing other people for nothing;

bombarding cities, destroying them.


He is the man who does not change at all.

We had three wars from the end of the 19th century and into the 20th century.

And just taking the big conflicts because of course there were many more.



, for example, for 30 years there was conflict between Protestants and Catholics.

So this is extremely depressing for anyone, not just because there are wars but for the reasons for these wars.

Why does this kind of ambition of one, two or three men to take over a country and do all the atrocities they do still exist in the 21st century?

It is very difficult to live with this.

Frankly, I suffer a lot.

This is how Resurrection will look next week in La Rural.

– Do you think that art can collaborate in some way in these troubled times?

Yes, I am optimistic.

Art is a very important company for life.

You can find it in literature, painting or music.

They are comforting, and you can also find answers to many questions in art.

–Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the first concert you gave in Buenos Aires.

Would you like to do a celebration?

-Oh my God!

Fifty years!

Yes, it would be very nice.

Always new experiences with Martha

Martha Argerich and Charles Dutoit, a love and friendship relationship of more than 60 years.

I was married to Martha (Argerich), we are friends and have a fantastic relationship of over 60 years.

We met when she was sixteen.

She also became good friends with Chantal, my current wife.

Martha's only problem is that she can't live with her because she has impossible hours.

We know each other a lot musically.

Although with Martha it is always a new experience.

Dutoit and Martha.

I have always liked Buenos Aires, since my first trip in 1958, where I played as a violist with the Collegium Musicum Helveticum chamber orchestra at the Teatro Colón.

We play not only in Buenos Aires, but also in Mendoza, Rosario;

and also in Chile, Uruguay, Brazil.

The Teatro Colón was incredible, there were fantastic people, they were all very cultured.

There was a great education.

The Río de la Plata was a very stimulating place.


Charles Dutoit.

Lausanne, Switzerland, 1936.


He has captivated audiences around the world and is one of the most in-demand directors.

He was Principal and Artistic Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

He collaborated for 32 years with the Philadelphia Orchestra and each season he has directed the Chicago, Boston and San Francisco Symphonies;

as well as the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics.

He has over 200 recordings and multiple awards.

look also

Romeo Castellucci: "The theater has to provoke the body of the spectator"

Resurrection, apocalypse and global graves

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-02-25

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