The Role of The Conductor

"What is the Conductor for?" This is undoubtedly the question that any neophyte poses after having recently approached the Opera. Usually, in fact, it is not the first thing you think about, because in the first place you are fascinated by the voices and the music. You cannot understand how a human being can make such beautiful sounds or how the composer manages to put together the notes that depict our feelings in such an exact way. At first glance we do not worry too much about that man standing on the podium, we sense that he directs the orchestra but we have no idea if he only does that and above all how he manages it. This happens because his is undoubtedly the most complete and fascinating figure within the great team that gives life to an opera show.

To fully understand the importance of the Conductor, we should know exactly how the preparation in the theater works, during those weeks of individual work and in teams that lead to the realization of the performances. It is his job to put together all the parties involved to create the unit complex that we usually see. This entails for the Director an in-depth knowledge of the work that must be represented, of the historical context in which it was born as well as of the composer's will. His skill and his art must manage rhythm, orchestral sonority and interpretation.

dir3Imagine the difficulty of keeping together dozens of elements, managing their downbeats, crescendos and diminuendos. His only instrument of work is the gesture, which must be as concise and clear as possible. All of this is as much a debt to mathematics as to interpretation. If you try to compare different versions of the same piece you will see that the duration differs, depending on the interpretion given by the Conductor.

Communication is therefore of fundamental importance. During the rehearsals, the Director must dialogue with his orchestra and his soloists, communicating to them the overall vision that he has of the play, to make it easier for everyone to carry out their work. The quality of the sound that he wants to obtain from the instruments and above all the balance of the various sectors that constitute the unity of purpose of the music. A great quality is also the ability to support the singing, making the orchestra pit and the stage interact correctly.

dir1The most fascinating part of this profession is certainly the interpretation, which derives from the reading of the play that the Maestro has decided to transmit; but it is certainly also the most complex to obtain. Imagine, each orchestra could have a predilection repertoire as well as every single member of it could have formed his own way of interpreting the work in question. The Maestro must, with firmness, authority and education, standardize the whole complex to his vision. It is his burden of overcoming individuality to get to make music all together. He is responsible for the magic that is created in the hall, the one who gives the color and makes you shiver, the element that filters the music through his feeling and expresses it with his body, combining strict discipline and emotion. It is the Conductor who creates Harmony, that perfect tuning that exists between him, the orchestra, the choir and the soloists. Try to analize, even in this case, the same piece directed by different Maestros and you will find that the sensations you perceive are not the same, ever. This is the miracle of music, every time we hear it we discover something new, it continually amazes us because it is made of pure emotions, from and to human beings.

Original article by Samuela Solinas
Translated by Dario Medaglia