• San Carlo Opera
  • Zubin Mehta

Meeting of minds

music April 27, 2018 01:00


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Naples’ much-loved San Carlo Opera brings leading maestro Zubin Mehta back to Bangkok

The annual Bangkok’s International Festival of Dance & Music turns 20 this year and for the organisers as well as the fans, that means a programme like no other.


To celebrate this landmark anniversary, two legends from the world of music – San Carlo Opera from Naples and multiawarded conductor  Zubin Mehta – are offering a veritable feast to festival-goer over four nights, two of them devoted to opera, and two to symphony concerts. These four performances will mark the grand opening of the five-week long festival, which is scheduled from September 12 to October 18 at the Thailand Cultural Centre.


The opera “Carmen” is first up, with performances on September 12 and 14 by the San Carlo Opera, accompanied by the San Carlo Orchestra conducted by Mehta. On September 13 and 15, the San Carlo Symphony Orchestra will take centre stage with symphony concerts, again conducted by maestro Mehta.

The city of Naples, famous for its cultural offerings would be bereft without its legendary Teatro di San Carlo, the oldest continuously active opera house in the world. This opera house has been staging masterpieces since 1737 even before Milan’s La Scala and Venice's La Fenice theatres came into existence. Commissioned by the Bourbon King Charles III of Naples, the opera house became the lynchpin for the development of classical music and opera not only in Italy, but all over Europe.

Leading composers Johann Adolph Hasse, Joseph Haydn, Johann Christian Bach and Christoph Willibald Gluck, Vincenzo Bellini, Saverio Mercadante, Gaetano Donizetti (who composed 16 operas for San Carlo) considered a performance at the historically important San Carlo as a goal of their career. Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, was house composer and artistic director from 1815 to 1822. Not surprisingly the San Carlo Opera company has enjoyed great success all over the world and is famous for its critically acclaimed productions and singers. In the 21st century, the opera continues to be a fine ambassador and keeper both of Italian culture and Neapolitan tradition.


“Carmen”, a passionate rendering of Georges Bizet’s muchloved classic, will be in four acts with one intermission and will star some of the top singers in the opera world. Both performances of the opera will be accompanied by a full orchestra, of which Mehta has been honorary director since 2016. 

The maestro is one of the world’s most highly regarded conductors. His musical journey has seen him head some of the world’s leading orchestras including Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras, Montreal Symphony Orchestra and New York Philharmonic Orchestra to name a few. 

The San Carlo Orchestra itself has a grand history closely linked to that of the San Carlo Opera House, which opened in 1737 with “Achilles in Skyros” by Domenico Sarro. Ever since, the orchestra has been the recipient of works composed by Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Bach and Verdi. The Neapolitan composer Giuseppe Martucci also had a constant and formative presence. In the decades following World War II, San Carlo interacted with several famous conductors, among them Gui, Serafin, Santini, Gavazzeni, Bohm, Fricsay, Scherchen, Cluytens, Knappertsbusch and Mitropoulos, including, in 1958, Igor Stravinsky. Great soloists through the centuries have also played with the Orchestra. The ’60s saw two emerging young directors on the podium: Claudio Abbado, who made his debut in 1963, and Riccardo Muti in 1967. Several more collaborations followed. 

On September 13, the orchestra will play Beethoven (“Leonore Overture No.3; Symphony No. 9 with chorus and  singers), and on September 15, Tchaikovsky (“Symphony No 4”; “Symphony No 6”).

This tribute has been made possible with support from Crown Property Bureau, Bangkok Bank (PCL), Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (PCL), BMW Thailand, B.Grimm Group, Dusit Thani Bangkok, Indorama Ventures, Ministry of Culture, Nation Group, PTT (PCL), Singha Corporation, Thai Union Group, Thai Airways International and Tourism Authority of Thailand. 

4 Nights of Music

- Tickets for “Carmen” opera (September 12 and 14), and the Symphony concert (September 13 and 15) cost from Bt2,000 to Bt 10,000. They are available at Thai Ticket Major counters, online at www.ThaiTicketMajor.com and by calling (02) 262 3191.

- The venue is at the main hall of Thailand Cultural Centre in Bangkok. 

- Learn more at www.BangkokFestivals.com.