Conductor Christian Baldini of the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra — who will lead that orchestra in the Oct. 4 “Rising Stars of Opera” concert at the Mondavi Center — has had a pretty busy year.
Baldini flew to his native Argentina recently for a Sept. 20 concert with the National Symphony Orchestra in Buenos Aires.
“I conducted the Buenos Aires Philharmonic twice (in 2010 and 2012), but this will be my debut with the National Symphony Orchestra,” he said. “These two are the most important orchestras in Argentina, and among the best in Latin America.”
Baldini’s Sept. 20 program with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Auditorio de Belgrano includes the “Festive Overture” by Dmitri Shostakovich, “Don Juan” by Richard Strauss, the Violin Concerto No. 3 by Camille Saint-Saëns (with soloist Sami Merdinian, an Armenian-Argentine violinist who lives in New York) and the premiere of “Elegía por Julia Ponce, de Lavapiés” by Alejandro Civilotti, an Argentine composer who lives in Barcelona).
Baldini is also awaiting the release of a Mozart CD he recorded earlier this year with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
“The album contains soprano arias and overtures from six operas: ‘Don Giovanni,’ ‘Così fan tutte,’ ‘Le nozze di Figaro,’ ‘La finta giardiniera,’ ‘Idomeneo’ and ‘La clemenza di Tito,’ ” Baldini said. “The soprano is a wonderful young British superstar called Elizabeth Watts. She has won very significant awards, such as the Kathleen Ferrier Award, and in the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition she won the Rosenblatt Song Prize Award.
“She has got a really special voice, and she is a total natural. It was a real pleasure to work with her because we connected right away on interpretation, color, dramatic approach and taking advantage of the aural resources of the Italian texts.”
Baldini added that the album “will be released on Linn Records, which won the award of the Gramophone Magazine in 2010 for the best recording label. It is a wonderful company, which also produces high-tech hi-fi equipment and speakers. They produce (super audio CD), with much higher quality than CD. They are one of the top labels in Europe, and they have recorded all the last few productions of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, including those memorable recordings with the late Sir Charles Mackerras (Mozart Symphonies) and those with their current music director, Robin Ticciati.”
Baldini is one of the few conductors to go into the studio with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Other than Mackerras and Ticciati, only their associate artist Alexander Janiczek has recorded a CD with the ensemble.
“I am very fortunate to have been selected for this recording to be in such great company,” Baldini said. “For me, it has been an incredible experience to record a CD with one of the world’s greatest chamber orchestras.
“The Scottish Chamber Orchestra has a great tradition, especially performing music from the 18th century. They have done some of the most memorable Mozart recordings in existence to this date, and for me it was a privilege to work with them. I conducted them in three concerts, doing symphonies by Beethoven and Mozart, plus works by Weber and Mozart, on tour in the south of Scotland. After that, the culmination of those performances, was going into the marvelous Usher Hall in Edinburgh to record this CD.”
The album should be available internationally sometime in 2014.
Baldini said he’s also very happy to be conducting the “Rising Stars of Opera” concert once again.
“It is a very important thing that we are doing ‘Rising Stars of Opera’ every year in Davis. Barbara Jackson had the wonderful vision to promote the art form that she loves the most: opera. We are thrilled to be able to support her project, and to be able to share our love for this marvelous repertoire with our friends in Davis.
“For me personally it is a treat. Opera is arguably the most sophisticated manifestation of culture that ever existed. Despite this, it goes straight to your heart. It is not pretentious or overly intellectual. It is there to communicate a message, and to leave a mark in the existence of whoever listens to it.”
— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055. Follow him on Twitter at @JeffHudsonDE