Pianist Stephen Kovacevich Dismissed From His First Opera Conducting Engagement

Classic Arts News   Pianist Stephen Kovacevich Dismissed From His First Opera Conducting Engagement
Only days before he was to make his debut as an opera conductor, Stephen Kovacevich has been replaced by the management of Geneva's opera house.

The American pianist was to have conducted the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and soloists in Mozart's CosÐ fan tutte for the Grand Th_ê¢tre de Genve beginning Wednesday (November 8). As reported by La Tribune de Genve, Kovacevich was released from his engagement on October 31. A spokesperson for the opera house said, "The chemistry that must be established between the conductor, the singers and the orchestra did not develop ... It was time to make a change. There was dissatisfaction on both sides."

For his part, Kovacevich told La Tribune, "I had, I think, some fine things to offer. The musicians ought to have talked to me; [then] we might have worked in the proper atmosphere. Certain individuals ought to be sorry. The fault here is shared."

French conductor Nicolas Chalvin will fill in for Kovacevich for the ten performances at Geneva's Bê¢timent des Forces Motrices from November 8-19. Among the members of the two alternating casts are mezzo Monica Groop and baritones Stephan Genz, Bo Skovhus and Gilles Cachemaille.

Kovacevich, now 66, made his first appearance as a conductor in 1984 with the Houston Symphony. According to a biography on the website of his UK agents, Van Walsum Management, the pianist has subsequently conducted, among others, the Vancouver Symphony, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the City of Birmingham Symphony, the BBC Symphony and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, though it is unclear how many of those appearances involved leading the orchestra from the keyboard in a Classical-era concerto. Kovacevich is scheduled to perform as conductor-cum-soloist in a complete cycle of Beethoven piano concertos and symphonies with the London Mozart Players over the next two years.

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