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■  Langrée’s first encounter with ‘Hamlet’, the opera he conducts again this month: Simon Keenlyside and Natalie Dessay at the Grand Théâtre in Geneva in 1996

Even if he is no longer an ‘opera conductor’, does he have a wish list of works he would like to conduct? ‘I might well conduct Tristan and Parsifal once I’ve retired,’ he quips, before explaining that he was offered Tristan, but had to turn it down for scheduling reasons, and that Parsifal ‘demands total commitment—you can’t just devote a couple of hours to it here and there. I want to do justice to it as something important, not as a repertoire piece.’ There are also works that he says he will never conduct, no matter how much he loves them. ‘Though I will regret it for ever, I would feel dishonest conducting, say, Bluebeard’s Castle. When I hear Iván Fischer conducting it, it seems so natural—it’s in his language, like Pelléas is in my language. I could manage Pelléas while running a temperature or suffering from a hangover … I could rehearse it by heart, without a score, and spend two hours over three pages of music. I have the same regrets over Janáček’s operas. I remember sitting in on rehearsals at Glyndebourne when Jiří Bělohlávek was conducting the Janáček cycle, especially with Anja Silja, and I so admired the way he took care over each syllable. But to be able to do that, you need to be able to speak Czech and to speak the language of Janáček, to feel its power and its poetry—and make other people share it too.’

Newsdesk Chicago strike settled The start of the new season at the Lyric Opera of Chicago was disrupted by a strike by its orchestra, settled after four days although initial fears were that it might drag on much longer. Lyric was forced to cancel its own performances (of La Bohème and Idomeneo) and move events by other groups who were renting the Civic Opera House, due to a

Opera, December 2018


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