Evelino Pidò, who was born in Turin, is one of those conductors whose gifts enable them to impress equally in concert halls and in opera houses. He declares himself in these terms: “I have known concerts which produced a magnificent response from the audience but I have to recognise that opera is what I love. That’s because it means everything: you have a stage and to be able to create for it is marvellous. When doing that I’m always present from the first day to the last and I recognise that early on in my life when I was at La Scala my love for opera already existed.”
In the years since then Evelino has become a noted figure on the international scene, being well known today in cities as far apart as Paris and Los Angeles. Indeed, it was his debut in LA that led to him being asked back immediately (“I love Mozart”, he says, mentioning that he conducted Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni in that house as well as Donizetti’s Don Pasquale). A somewhat similar tale is unfolding now, since, with changes taking place in the opera house in Vienna, he looks forward to working there on productions over a four-year period from 2010. As for London, he first came to Covent Garden in the nineties and recalls with particular pleasure working here in 1995. “I conducted a new production of Così fan tutte with Armani costumes! It was a Jonathan Miller production with an astonishing cast: Roocroft, Susan Graham, Ann Murray as Despina, Thomas Allen, Keenlyside.”
The one drawback of gaining so much experience in opera is that you can be regarded as an opera specialist. “It’s often the case with symphony orchestras that if you conduct a lot of opera they think that you are very good for that but not for them. To my mind that is a big mistake, just as I don’t want to be seen as limited in opera to Mozart and to Italian works simply because I have conducted such pieces so often. I love German music too, including for example pieces by Hindemith which I have conducted in the concert hall, and I would hope one day to conduct Wagner, perhaps Tristan. Fidelio is also a favourite and, because I studied in Vienna and know the right style for it very well, I have to say that Die Fledermaus is my dream. Fortunately opportunities can always open up as they did with another of my loves, the French repertoire. Now that I conduct a lot in Paris and Lyon I can do some of that. Not so long ago I did Chabrier’s Le Roi malgré lui – a wonderful score – and because it was such a success orchestras like the London Symphony began to realise that I might be good for that kind of music.”
These comments indicate the range of Evelino Pidò’s interests but his current return to Covent Garden sees him back in his most established field. He’s here to conduct the production by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier of Rossini’s take on the Cinderella story as he did back in 2002. Indeed, apart from verismo works by Leoncavallo and Mascagni, which mean less to him, Evelino is delighted by Italian opera in general.