In Liège, Bisanti opens his mandate with a rarity

Admittedly, this will not be his first production in Liège: he made his debut there in 2017 for Rigolettobefore returning two years later to Anna Bolena. But when Giampaolo Bisanti enters the pit of the Royal Theater this evening, he will undoubtedly have a slight twinge in his heart: because he will be the first to direct theAlzira by Verdi, according to Voltaire, but also and above all because it will be his first performance as musical director of the Opéra Royal de Wallonie.

From Bari to Liege

“The musical director of an opera house is not the one who conducts more operas than all the other conductors”recalls this elegant Italian in his fifties who has already held this position at the great Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari. “He participates in the choice of the repertoire and the singers with the general manager, but it is above all the person who must guarantee the quality of the orchestra, who makes him work in this perspective.“To make the orchestra work is of course to conduct operas (after Alzirawe will find him again in January for The Sonnambula) and sometimes concerts (he was maneuvering for Placido Domingo’s recital a few days ago). But insofar as, he recalls, the division of skills in Liège means that the symphonic repertoire is reserved for the OPRL while the lyrical is for the ORW, it is useful to also work on the orchestra outside of its public performances to make it progress: “If it is at the same level as the Italian orchestras that I know, it is moreover almost an Italian orchestra, it must be said that it has played a lot of Italian repertoire in recent years! But we all want to do better, and so I started doing work sessions with them, away from the public and from any deadline. We are working, for example, on Adriana Lecouvreur from Cilea, which we will no doubt stage one day, but also on overtures by Wagner, currently that of Rienzi and that of the Meistersinger von Nürnberg. During these sessions, we sometimes focus on the sound, sometimes on the whole, sometimes just on the quality.”

Hiring contest

Another of the essential roles of a musical director is obviously also to participate in recruitment competitions which allow a renewal of the workforce: “We have become quick and efficient in this area, in particular because we have had a lot of departures and we therefore had to organize several competitions over a limited time. The procedure is well established: the jury is made up of the general manager, the two Konzertmeisters, representatives of the orchestra (and particularly of the sections concerned), and myself. And the candidates play behind a curtain – to guarantee a choice based solely on the music!”

Unusually, Bisanti therefore begins his mandate with an opera by Verdi never before performed in Belgium, Alzira (Free Arts of November 23). An opera which the composer himself would have said was “really bad”. Possible ? “Nothing is really bad with Verdi, even if everything is not necessarily on the same level. Here we find a potpourri of Verdi musical ideas, beautiful and effective. The final concertato of the second act is really excellent. C So it’s quality music, but Cammaranno’s libretto is weak, and the dramaturgy is weak.” We feel the Italian chef ready to move mountains to share his convictions. It remains to be hoped that the staging of the Peruvian Jean-Pierre Gamarra – from Lima, the story being that of an Inca princess – is also convincing.

Liège, Théâtre Royal, from November 25 to December 3 at 8 p.m.; www.operaliege.be

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