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Lorin Maazel lists the best operas of his life

In a further instalment of his war on modern Regioper, the veteran maestro lists the opera that he liked best over the past six decades and more.

My comments regarding excesses in some Regieoper productions have again elicited a spirited response. Seems many are grateful that the subject has been raised.

One comment, however, questioned where I might be coming from, suggesting that I what I’ve written might be the ranting of an old man.
Well, can’t change my age (83) and would like to think that I’m not yet ranting. I do rave…about the spectacular ground-breaking stagings of which I have had the privilege of being part:
Wieland Wagner’s Lohengrin (Bayreuth 1960)

Wieland Wagner2013


Wieland Wagner’s Tristan (La Scala 1968),

Wernicke’s “Don Carlo” (Salzburg 1998),

Jonathan Miller’s “Fanciulla” (La Scala 1991),

jonathan  miller


Strehler’s Falstaff (La Scala 1981),

Asari’s “Butterfly (La Scala 1985),

Noelte’s “Don Giovanni” (Deutsche Oper Berlin 1973),

Zeffirelli’s “Turandot” (La Scala 1983)

and many more, including LePage’s staging of my own opera “1984″ (Covent Garden 2005).

Since “1984″ is about what’s happening today, contemporary aesthetics are the rule…. in the music, stage sets and action, with torture scenes, the horrific trappings of a police state, rampant Big Brotherism… “modern” as it gets. No prudery either…the jailed aging drunken prostitute does her thing (or tries to) with her fellow (male) prisoners.

So I age peacefully and will rave on…when appropriate.

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  1. Sorry but I hate that. Its not Asari’s Butterfly its Puccini’s. Its not Noelte’s Don G its Mozart’s. These directors who think they are part of the creative process are wrong, they are part of the interpretative process.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Maazel didn’t say it was “Asari’s Butterfly” rather than “Puccini’s Butterfly”. He says it was Asari’s staging of Puccini’s Butterfly that he found very good.

    • Gerhard says:

      Normally I would agree with your reaction, but the attribution of an opera to a director appears in a certain context which seems pretty clear to me. I believe Mr. Maazel is perfectly justified to trust his readers to know which composer wrote which opera, and to get the sense of his list from the discussion of which it is a part.

    • You’re really missing the context on this.

      And an opera doesn’t belong to any one person in any case (except when discussing a particular context like Mr. Maazel here). It’s a team game at its inception and every time it’s performed. And, yes, those team-mates are or were all acting creatively, and it’s insulting to suggest otherwise.

    • musicologyman says:

      Mr. Ward, I rather like what seems to be your underlying logic, but shouldn’t Mr. Maazel really be referring to Belasco’s Butterfly and Fanciulla, Schiller’s Don Carlos, Gozzi’s Turandot, and Orwell’s 1984?

  2. Note the qualification in Mr. Maazel’s comment above which I highlight here: “excesses in *some* Regieoper productions…” There is both good and bad Regietheater, just as there are good and bad traditional stagings.

  3. come on, keep up with the conversation if you decide to comment.

    Bravo Maestro! These statements were long overdue. And dare I say, it is not for the singers to speak out as they are the weakest link in the chain, too great their dependance on finding work and securing an income. Step up the audience, make yourself heard.

  4. I was wondering when he was going to bring “1984″ into it. So his own composition is one of the best things he’s seen? Why am I not surprised…..

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