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Opera Australia hires ‘palpable’ Finn for its empty Ring

The vacuum left by Richard Mills at the heart of the A$15 million Melbourne Ring is to be filled by the young Finnish conductor Pietari Inkinen, 33, presently with the New Zealand Symphony. His experience is mostly orchestral, but he did conduct two of the Ring operas in Sicily earlier this year, before the cycle was aborted on cost grounds.

Inkinen came hotly recommended by the Kiwi tenor Simon O’Neill, with whom he has made a record (below). He has also recorded a Sibelius cycle for Naxos. Inkinen is under IMG management. We wish him every success but somehow have the feeling that this drama is not over yet. Press release follows.

o'neill      inkinen

MEDIA RELEASE: 3 July 2013
New Ring Cycle conductor announced
Opera Australia announces Pietari Inkinen
as new conductor for The Melbourne Ring Cycle 2013
Opera Australia has appointed the outstanding young Finnish conductor Pietari Inkinen as the new conductor for The Melbourne Ring Cycle 2013. Mr Inkinen will join Opera Australia at the start of September, when the second phase of rehearsals recommences. He will work with the Ring Orchestra and full cast of singers throughout Sept-Nov, and then conduct all performances of the Ring Cycle from Mon 18 November through Friday 13 December 2013.

“Pietari Inkinen is firstly an outstanding musician,” (artistic director) Lyndon Terracini said. “He is an impressive conductor with terrific stick
technique, and he really demonstrates an innate understanding of, and affinity, with Wagner’s music. His passion for the piece is palpable.”

Pietari Inkinen said, “I am thrilled to be joining this excellent artistic team and very much looking forward to working with the fantastic director Neil Armfield and wonderful cast of singers.”

At 33 Mr Inkinen is young, but considered a star of his generation, having performed as a violinist and conducted from an early age, earning the praise of artists and critics alike. He was a stand-out amongst the pool of candidates, highly recommended by artists including John Wegner and Simon O’Neill. Mr Inkinen studied at the Sibelius Academy, and was appointed Music Director of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra at just 27 and Principal Guest Conductor of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra a year later. He has also conducted orchestras of such renown as the Israel Philharmonic, La Scala Philharmonic, LA Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Bayerische Rundfunk and Maggio Musicale, to highlight just a few.

Ultimately, his youth has nothing to do with it, Terracini said. “If you’re good enough, you’re old enough. It’s exciting to have a young conductor of immense talent working with Neil Armfield on this life-changing project.” The artistic director had already approached Inkinen when he began to receive emails from singers praising the conductor’s immense talents. Among the big names who have sung under his baton are the acclaimed New Zealand tenor Simon O’Neill and well-known singer of Wagner, John Wegner. Last year, Inkinen brought New Zealand its very first concert performance of one of Wagner’s Ring operas, and critics were dumbfounded. “Superlatives are inadequate to do the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s Die Walküre justice … Pietari Inkinen sustained a sumptuous, perfectly paced orchestra flow, springing into passionate bloom for the young lovers, ushering in the Valkyries with whiplash thrills,” wrote William Dart in the New Zealand Herald.

Pietari Inkinen conducted the first two operas of the Ring Cycle – Die Walküre and Das Rheingold – at Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Italy earlier this year but financial difficulties have forced the opera theatre to postpone its remaining 2013 season including the final operas of the Ring Cycle, which were scheduled for late 2013. Palermo’s loss is Melbourne’s gain, as the cancellation has enabled Inkinen to become available to take up the opportunity with Opera Australia, and to join the project very well prepared. Lyndon Terracini is confident he will bring the very best out of the stellar international cast gathered in Melbourne to perform in Opera Australia’s first Ring cycle. He said, “As Peter Craven wrote in his wonderful article on the Ring in The Australian, finding the perfect conductor for The Ring is not easy. But we think we’ve got pretty close to it.”

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  1. MAAAAATE! ave yer eard? jus wen we thawt these wargna conduktas wer all grumpy ol blokes, ow Linden findsa yungun who asnt dun seegfreed or guuterdemrung oither !!!! bloody bewdy Linden givin im a chaance te troi em ere fer the first toime !!!!! seeya et the pub.

  2. ILoveOpera says:

    Bravo! Inkinen is a wonderful conductor.

  3. Prof Doug Grant says:

    Inkinen’s Sibelius symphony cycle on Naxos is good – not a challenger to Berglund (my favorite), Davis or Vanska, but interesting enough to be worth further hearing. I suspect he will be adequate for the Ring, absent the affordability of the very best.

  4. As far as I can tell, all Finns are palpable. Be careful where you put your hands, though.

  5. Rex Benson says:

    The NZSO Die Walkure was superb, I have to say, and
    I thought P I was in total control throughout

    I’m a bit disappointed for Anthony Negus, though … I have
    just returned from Longborough where I saw his splendid
    Ring Cycle.
    RB, NZ

  6. Fourth Norn says:

    I see that on the Opera Australia/Melbourne Ring website, the conductor is listed below the costume and lighting designers. Is that what they really think of Pietari Inkinen?

    • Prof Doug Grant says:

      It’s what they think in OA of any conductor. The music is not important. Even more, the conductor is not important. Only the drama matters.

      Too often in Australia orchestral concerts are advertised without naming the conductor. It’s as if one should only care what the work is and not what the interpretation might be. Of course, it is merely a symptom of dumbing down that pervades all aspects of life here.

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