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The maestro returns

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-25 06:19

Iconic conductor once again treats Chinese audiences to his unequaled talent, Chen Nan reports.

In 2015, Zubin Mehta and the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing worked together on a production of Giuseppe Verdi's classic opera Aida. Along with the China NCPA Orchestra, China NCPA Chorus, and a lineup of international artists, the conductor had an unforgettable experience.

"It was the best Aida that I ever did," says Mehta, who conducted Verdi's opera many times in his long career, including a version he did with the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City in 1965.

In 2023, unfortunately, the conductor failed to join Aida at the NCPA due to ill health.

In a phone call with the NCPA, he said: "When I'm in good condition next year, I will definitely return to the NCPA no matter how busy my schedule is then."

On Friday, the 88-year-old conductor appeared at the NCPA, entering the room in a wheelchair and walking to a nearby chair.

"I rarely got sick. Last year, my doctor told me that if I traveled, I would die on the airplane. I had to cancel my trip to the NCPA. I can assure you that I am fully recovered now. So I am here," he says. "I am only 88."

From Friday to Sunday, Mehta and the Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino performed at the NCPA, playing pieces including Chopin's Piano Concerto No 2 in F Minor, Op 21, Beethoven's Symphony No 7 in A Major, Op 92 and Dvorak's Symphony No 7 in D Minor, Op 70. Before Beijing, they also performed two concerts in Tianjin on Wednesday and Thursday.

Founded in 1928, the Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino premiered many composers' music pieces, such as Richard Strauss and Pietro Mascagni. Since the 1950s, the orchestra has made numerous recordings, which received major awards including a Grammy in 1990.

The orchestra's principal conductor from 1985 to 2017, Mehta was later appointed honorary conductor for life. Though moving with difficulty and conducting while seated, he showed great vitality onstage.

"I am a conductor who is faithful to the composers. I have worked with the orchestra for about 35 years. I always look forward to our rehearsals and concerts. My energy comes from what I love," the conductor says. He came to the interview after over three hours of rehearsal that day. "That's the strength and power of music. The public absorbs the music as we perform it onstage. They give us long standing ovations."

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