Artist of the Week: Michele Mariotti

Italian Conductor Makes a Double Debut in France

By Francisco Salazar
(Credit: ©Rocco Casaluci)

This week the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence opened its 2022 edition featuring an array of repertoire and exciting productions. The festival will bring some of the most recognizable names in the operatic world as well as some of the best conductors and directors. On July 7, the company will open its new production of “Moïse et Pharaon” with Michele Mariotti conducting.

The production will mark a double debut for the Italian conductor. It will be first conducting assignment at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and it will be the first time the Mariotti conducts the Rossini opera.

In a statement, the conductor said, “By writing ‘Mosè in Egitto,’ Rossini meant to shock public opinion by portraying a terrifying beginning in the darkness that surrounded Egypt for days. With his ‘Moïse et Pharaon,’ Rossini did away with such theatrical tension, favoring a more choral and religious feeling. It’s a political opera highlighting the enormous cultural and religious differences between Jews and Egyptians.”

He added, “All the music accompanying the Hebrew people is moving, being a mix of tragic grim and disillusionment, with constant harmonic shifts that open to the fluctuations of contrasting emotions. All of it is centered on the character of Anaï, who is tormented between her love for the enemy, Aménophis, and her duty towards her religion. Each musical situation that is linked to Egypt finds its unifying element in a relentless rhythmic pulse. The three dances included in the score, which director Tobias Kratzer rightly interprets as integral parts of the drama, will be a further intensification and continuation of the latter, instead of being a performance in and of itself. This opera uses wonderful concertatos that have their musical climax in the excruciating prayer.”

Mariotti is well-known for his Rossini interpretations as he has conducted such works as “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” “Sigimondo,” “La Donna del Lago,” “Matilde di Shabran,” and “Guilaume Tell,” among others. Critics have raved about his Rossini interpretations noting he draws “hushed gentle and transparent playing.”

For audiences not in France for “Moïse et Pharaon,” Mariotti will return to Rossini during the 2022-23 season when he conducts a production of “Il Barbiere di di Siviglia” at the Wiener Staatsoper. He will also conduct at the Paris Opera and the Teatro alla Scala. 


For audiences interested in hearing Mariotti’s Rossini interpretations, there is a Rossini overtures album on PENTATONE. There are also DVDs of “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” “Sigimondo,” “La Donna del Lago,” “Matilde di Shabran,” and “Guilaume Tell featuring Mariotti conducting.

Here he is conducting the overture to “Semiramide.”

Here he is talking about the Stabat Mater.


Artist of the Week