HomeMusicAfter a Shock Debut, the Conductor Thomas Guggeis Is Rising Quick

After a Shock Debut, the Conductor Thomas Guggeis Is Rising Quick


Thomas Guggeis was a younger repetiteur on the Berlin State Opera 5 years in the past when he was requested a career-changing query: Could he conduct “Salome”?

He had labored with the singers, however this new manufacturing of Strauss’s opera was meant to be led by the veteran maestro Christoph von Dohnányi — till a dispute with the director led him to again out mere hours earlier than the ultimate gown rehearsal. So Guggeis went on in his place. And he was again within the pit on opening night time.

“This was a state of affairs of a star is born,” stated Bernd Loebe, the final supervisor of Frankfurt Opera, who noticed Guggeis lead that efficiency.

It wouldn’t be the final time Guggeis, now 29, stepped right into a high-pressure state of affairs. Earlier this season, because the State Opera’s Kapellmeister, or home conductor, he picked up rehearsals and two runs of a brand new “Ring” cycle after Daniel Barenboim withdrew because of illness. And on May 30, he’ll make his North American debut on the Metropolitan Opera in New York, main a revival of Wagner’s “Der Fliegende Holländer,” taking on from Jaap van Zweden.

Things are occurring rapidly — Guggeis begins as the final music director of the Frankfurt Opera this fall — however he’s attempting to take care of a gradual growth that a few of his friends have deserted in favor of peripatetic movie star.

“There was a query of tips on how to go on,” he stated in an interview on the State Opera right here. “Do you soar on the shifting practice or do you keep on observe? Together with my agent, I made a decision to maintain calm. If a chance is supposed to be, there’ll nonetheless be curiosity and risk in two or three years.”

APART FROM an uncle — the achieved percussionist Edgar Guggeis — Guggeis grew up in a nonmusical household in Bavaria. His father was the director of a brewery, and his mom was a tax clerk. But he performed devices from a younger age, and sang in choirs.

Guggeis adopted these pursuits to the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich, however not with single-minded focus. He studied conducting however, conscious of the precarious life it promised, additionally picked up a level in quantum physics.

“I used to be actually within the topic,” he stated, “and I simply wished to have one thing on the secure aspect. You by no means know the way it works out as a conductor. When I began, when you requested me, ‘Where do you see your self in 10 years?’ I’d say I don’t know. But I’ll have this different diploma, and I can at all times return to that.”

Now, Guggeis would possibly examine a discovery associated to one thing he remembers learning in class. But his specialty was theoretical particle physics, which is unimaginable to observe on a part-time or informal foundation. So he has stopped maintaining with the sphere.

During his time in Munich, Guggeis was usually on the Bavarian State Opera whereas it was below the music directorships of Kent Nagano and Kirill Petrenko. In between lessons in the future, he sat in on a rehearsal of Strauss’s “Die Frau Ohne Schatten” led by Petrenko. By the second act, he determined to skip college and keep. He was hooked, and noticed practically every part the home needed to provide in what amounted to a parallel training. “To see these conductors,” he stated, “was wonderful, but in addition so formative.”

Guggeis continued to check conducting in Milan, then returned to Germany to function a repetiteur in Berlin. He coached singers from the piano however virtually by no means spoke with the home’s long-reigning maestro, Daniel Barenboim. “It was arduous to get near him,” Guggeis stated, “as a result of everybody desires one thing from him there.” But slowly, the 2 constructed a relationship during which Barenboim turned more and more approachable.

For his half, Barenboim didn’t want a lot time in any respect. He recalled watching the younger conductor lead a rehearsal and instantly pondering he was gifted.

“You can see this stuff immediately with anyone,” Barenboim stated. “And he was clearly a really pure conductor. He had a uncommon mixture of easiness and cozy duty. He moved his arms in a pure approach, and was naturally in command. From the very starting.”

Their bond deepened. “It felt like household,” Guggeis stated. “He was beneficiant, supportive, type and at all times there once I had questions on profession.” They talked about music, artwork and philosophy, or gossiped about Pierre Boulez. Between these conversations and the rehearsals Guggeis would watch and later ask about, Barenboim turned, he stated, “probably the most influential mentor for me.”

GUGGEIS BELONGS to a category of conductors — extra widespread in Germany — that comes up by means of opera homes fairly than live performance halls, even when their careers ultimately steadiness each. He stated that the repertoire he realized as a repetiteur has caught “deeply in my head and guts,” and that his time on the State Opera in Berlin, in addition to in Stuttgart and Berlin as a Kapellmeister, has outlined his method to the rostrum, corresponding to tips on how to handle rehearsals and soloists or wrangle a large-scale work for orchestra and refrain.

“You can by no means purchase that have,” he stated, “regardless of how proficient you’re.”

He has additionally tried to check out well-known items like Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony away from very public levels just like the Philharmonie in Berlin or the Musikverein in Vienna. He has performed the Beethoven, however in Italy, in a five-concert collection with the Milan Symphony Orchestra, following recommendation he as soon as heard attributed to Herbert von Karajan, that no matter the place you lead this work, the primary 15 times gained’t be good; so begin early.

When Guggeis shares reminiscences and insights like that, he feels like a conductor wanting again on a profession fairly than ahead. His mixture of confidence and self-awareness was a part of what endeared him to Barenboim, who stated: “He’s very proficient, however he is aware of that he has rather a lot to be taught. He has an excellent curiosity, and that can go till the top of his life.”

Curiosity, but in addition the braveness to tackle classics by Wagner and Strauss in entrance of the boo-happy viewers on the Berlin State Opera. (Reviews throughout his time as Kapellmeister have tended to be constructive.) So, when he stepped into the pit for “Salome,” it was simply one other day on the job. He was supported by Dohnányi, who stays a mentor — and gave him most of his rating library — and surprised Barenboim.

“It was outstanding,” Barenboim stated. “There was no ‘What lets do now?’ His future was completely clear.”

Loebe, Frankfurt Opera’s normal supervisor, was equally struck by this 24-year-old conductor he had by no means heard of earlier than. “I wished to know extra,” he stated. “So I noticed him many extra times, and we began to have many conferences.” Loebe was searching for a brand new music director, and Guggeis was “the one man I wished.”

Frankfurt’s orchestra, Loebe added, was used to having two or three selections, however he insisted on Guggeis, who fashioned a fast bond with the musicians. During the pandemic, he led them in a streamed efficiency of Mozart’s “Requiem” — one of many few movies on-line of his conducting — that reveals his clear path, stage head and sense of form. Then, in 2021, he was named as their new music director.

Mozart is how Guggeis will begin his tenure subsequent season, with a brand new manufacturing of “Le Nozze di Figaro” premiering on Oct. 1. In an illustration of the vary he hopes for there, he may also lead Ligeti’s “Le Grand Macabre,” Wagner’s “Tannhäuser,” Verdi’s “Don Carlo” and Strauss’s “Elektra,” along with live performance applications.

Guggeis’s inaugural season in Frankfurt took form as he was wrapping up his time as Kapellmeister in Berlin. There, he was working with Barenboim on a new production of Wagner’s four-opera “Ring” that was unveiled suddenly final October, an immense and nearly unheard-of endeavor for a repertory home. It was years within the making, however Barenboim’s well being quickly declined that summer time, and the deliberate 4 cycles have been cut up between Guggeis and Christian Thielemann.

When his situation permitted, Barenboim shared his knowledge with Guggeis about, for instance, which notoriously difficult passages within the operas’ 16 hours of music needs to be the main focus of rehearsals. They nonetheless converse; Guggeis values his recommendation, seeing it because the equal of singers working with coaches lengthy into their careers.

Guggeis was additionally in fixed contact with Thielemann, an skilled hand in Wagner. “We have been figuring out issues collectively,” he stated. “It was very attention-grabbing. But then he would additionally say issues like to not fear about ‘Ride of the Valkyries,’ as a result of it’s self-going, it should grow to be loud by itself. All this was actually incredible for me.”

Earlier this month, Guggeis stated goodbye to Berlin, for now; his tenure as Kapellmeister ends this season. He led two concert events with the Staatskapelle, the opera home’s storied orchestra, and was on a aircraft to New York for “Holländer” rehearsals the subsequent day.

“The little chook is now flying from its nest,” he stated in an interview on the Met. “I’m conducting professionally since 5 years, roughly. I used to be with this fabulous orchestra and now I’m right here working at this large place. To be right here is one thing I by no means would have anticipated, and couldn’t ever want for.”

Content Source: www.nytimes.com


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