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Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Friday, November 15, 2019 8 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Riccardo Muti by Todd Rosenberg Photography, Joyce DiDonato by Chris Singer
Rome connects the music heard here. Berlioz’s cantata La mort de Cléopâtre was a Prix de Rome candidate. Although it didn’t win the prize, its dramatic vocal line and vivid orchestral writing give it riveting operatic power. Bizet paid tribute to the city in his orchestral suite Roma, noteworthy for its lithesome Scherzo and whirling Tarantella finale. Respighi’s spectacularly orchestrated tone poem Pines of Rome paint the city’s greenery in technicolor sound, including frolicking children, holy chants, bird song, and a ghostly Roman legion.

Part of: Joyce DiDonato Perspectives

Chicago Symphony Orchestra is also performing November 16.

Joyce DiDonato is also performing November 22, December 15, April 5, April 6, April 7, April 8, April 13, and May 26.


Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Riccardo Muti, Music Director and Conductor
Joyce DiDonato, Mezzo-Soprano



BERLIOZ La mort de Cléopâtre

RESPIGHI Pines of Rome

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission. Please note there will be no late seating before intermission.
National Endowment for the Arts: arts.gov

Public support for Carnegie Hall Live on WQXR is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

In honor of the centenary of his birth, Carnegie Hall’s 2019–2020 season is dedicated to the memory of Isaac Stern in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to Carnegie Hall, arts advocacy, and the field of music.

At a Glance


Roma is the orchestral score Bizet composed under the spell of his Italian travels of the late 1850s. The obscurity of the work is inexplicable, for every page displays the gifts we know so well from the composer’s later Carmen: a fine ear for color and rhythmic élan, and for pure, unassuming melody. What Tchaikovsky later said, admiringly, of Carmen could as easily apply here: “The music has no pretensions to profundity, but it is so charming in its simplicity, so vigorous, not contrived but instead sincere.”


BERLIOZ  La mort de Cléopâtre

La mort de Cléopâtre (The Death of Cleopatra) was the first music Berlioz wrote that reflects the spell Shakespeare had cast over him. Berlioz begins with unsettled music for orchestra that leads to a series of alternating recitatives and arias for Cleopatra. At the heart of the scene, just before the final aria, Berlioz places a meditation—neither recitative nor aria—that is one of his most extraordinary achievements. Headed by a quotation from Shakespeare, Juliet’s “How if when I am laid into the tomb,” it is a cry from the heart, with the vocal line soaring (and plummeting) over an oddly syncopated, pulsing accompaniment. The final, impassioned aria begins conventionally enough, but disintegrates as Cleopatra herself falls apart. The final pages, in which the queen dies, are unlike any other music composed at the time.


RESPIGHI  Pines of Rome

Several days before Respighi made his Chicago debut in 1926, Pines of Rome had received its New York premiere in a spectacular performance at Carnegie Hall under Arturo Toscanini. It quickly became Respighi’s signature piece and that rarest of works: a sequel that outdoes the original (Fountains of Rome) in brilliance and popularity. Unlike Ravel, who was embarrassed by the hit status of his Bolero, Respighi quite enjoyed the success of his most famous creation—he even named his country villa “The Pines.”


Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Now celebrating its 129th season, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is consistently hailed as one of the world’s leading orchestras. In September 2010, renowned Italian conductor ...

Now celebrating its 129th season, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is consistently hailed as one of the world’s leading orchestras. In September 2010, renowned Italian conductor Riccardo Muti became its 10th music director. His vision for the orchestra—to deepen its engagement with the Chicago community, to nurture its legacy while supporting a new generation of musicians, and to collaborate with visionary artists—signals a new era for the institution.

Founded in 1891 by its first music director, Theodore Thomas, the CSO’s other distinguished music directors have included Frederick Stock, Désiré Defauw, Artur Rodzinski, Rafael Kubelík, Fritz Reiner, Jean Martinon, Sir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim. Missy Mazzoli is the CSO’s current Mead Composer-in-Residence.

The musicians of the CSO command a vast repertoire and annually perform more than 150 concerts, most at Symphony Center in Chicago, and, since 1936, in the summer at the Ravinia Festival. The CSO also tours nationally and internationally. Since its first tour to Canada in 1892, the orchestra has performed in 29 countries on five continents during 61 international tours.

Since 1916, recording has been significant in establishing the orchestra’s international reputation, with recordings by the CSO earning a total of 62 Grammy Awards. Its independent label, CSO Resound, was launched in 2007. The 2010 release of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, with the CSO and Chicago Symphony Chorus conducted by Mr. Muti, was recognized with two Grammy Awards. Listeners around the world can hear the CSO in weekly airings of the CSO Radio Broadcast Series, which is syndicated on the WFMT Radio Network and online at cso.org/radio. In addition, the CSO’s YouTube video of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, conducted by Mr. Muti, has received more than 18 million views.

Thousands of patrons, volunteers, and donors support the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association each year. The CSO’s music director position is endowed in perpetuity by a generous gift from the Zell Family Foundation. The Negaunee Foundation provides generous support in perpetuity for the work of the Negaunee Music Institute.

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Riccardo Muti

Born in Naples, Italy, Riccardo Muti is one of the preeminent conductors of our day. In 2010, when he became the 10th music director of the world-renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), ...

Born in Naples, Italy, Riccardo Muti is one of the preeminent conductors of our day. In 2010, when he became the 10th music director of the world-renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), he had more than 40 years of experience at the helm of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (1968–1980), the Philharmonia Orchestra (1973–1982), The Philadelphia Orchestra (1980–1992), and Teatro alla Scala (1986–2005). He has also had a close relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Salzburg Festival for more than 45 years. He is an honorary member of Vienna’s Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, the Vienna Hofmusikkapelle, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Vienna State Opera.

Mr. Muti has received innumerable international honors. He is a Cavaliere di Gran Croce of the Italian Republic, Knight Commander of the British Empire, Officer of the French Legion of Honor, Knight Grand Cross of the First Class of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, and a recipient of the German Verdienstkreuz and the Russian Order of Friendship. Mr. Muti has also received Israel’s Wolf Prize for the arts, Sweden’s Birgit Nilsson Prize, Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award, and Japan’s Praemium Imperiale and Order of the Rising Sun Gold and Silver Star, as well as the gold medal from Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Presidente della Repubblica award from the Italian government, and the Viareggio Rèpaci Special Prize. He has received more than 20 honorary degrees from universities around the world.

Mr. Muti’s vast catalog of recordings, numbering in the hundreds, ranges from the traditional symphonic and operatic repertoire to contemporary works. He also has written three books, Verdi, l’italiano; Riccardo Muti: An Autobiography: First the Music, Then the Words; and, most recently, Infinity Between the Notes: My Journey Into Music, published in May 2019 and available in Italian.

Passionate about teaching young musicians, Mr. Muti founded the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra in 2004 and the Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy in 2015. During his time with the CSO, Mr. Muti has won over audiences in greater Chicago and around the globe through his music making as well as his demonstrated commitment to sharing classical music. Visit riccardomutimusic.com for more information.

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Joyce DiDonato

A multiple Grammy Award winner and the 2018 Olivier Award winner for Outstanding Achievement in Opera, Kansas-born mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato charms audiences around the globe. She has ...

A multiple Grammy Award winner and the 2018 Olivier Award winner for Outstanding Achievement in Opera, Kansas-born mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato charms audiences around the globe. She has soared to the top of the industry both as a performer and as a fierce advocate for the arts, gaining international prominence in operas by Handel and Mozart, as well as through her wide-ranging, acclaimed discography. She is also distinguished for the bel canto roles of Rossini and Donizetti.

Ms. DiDonato’s 2019–2020 season includes her staged debut as Agrippina in a new production at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; her return to the Metropolitan Opera as Agrippina and Charlotte in Werther; and performances as Semiramide at the Liceu in Barcelona. She is a Carnegie Hall 2019–2020 Perspectives artist, with appearances that include a recital with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, a chamber music concert titled Joyce DiDonato and Friends, a Baroque-inspired program titled My Favorite Things with Il Pomo d’Oro, and live-streamed master classes. Also with Il Pomo d’Oro, she performs her album In War & Peace on tour in South America and in Washington, DC, and embarks on a European and US tour of My Favorite Things. Other highlights include a tour with the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal under Mr. Nézet-Séguin; a European tour performing her latest album, Songplay; and recorded concerts of Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette with John Nelson and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg.

Ms. DiDonato is an exclusive Erato / Warner Classics recording artist. Her award-winning discography includes Les Troyens, which in 2018 won the Recording (Complete Opera) category at the International Opera Awards, the Opera Award at the BBC Music Magazine Awards, and Gramophone’s Recording of the Year. Other recent albums include Songplay; In War & Peace (winner of a 2017 Gramophone Award); Stella di Napoli; her Grammy Award–winning Diva, Divo; and Drama Queens. Other honors include Gramophone’s Artist of the Year and Recital of the Year awards, and induction into the Gramophone Hall of Fame.

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