Interview with Daniel Oren

We are honored to be able to do this interview with the great Maestro Daniel Oren, internationally renowned conductor, present and acclaimed in theaters all over the world.

1. Retracing your career, you approached music at an early age and as early as 17 years old you were admitted to the Berlin Hochsule to study conductorship. We can say that with the music was love at first ght, do you remember the moment when it found the way into your heart?

I was a boy soprano and sang in the choir of the synagogue. It was like a good game, but nothing more. Then Leonard Bernstein came to Israel for a concert and there were his Chichester Psalms in the program. In this piece there is a solo voice, very clear, which can also be that of a countertenor. But he preferred a singer boy who still kept the child's voice, and long story short, he auditioned and chose me. It was a dazzling experience that changed my life. The personality of the Maestro, his talent, his communicativeness fascinated me and I decided, together with my mother who guided me in all my choices, that I would study music to become a conductor.

2. You studied with great Maestro Herbert Von Karajan. What is the best memory of him? The most valuable lesson?

The deepening of the technique, above all, but not an end in itself. Karajan intended it as an instrument at the service of interpretation, through which musical execution becomes Art itself. He was for this reason an extraordinary model and he was able to transmit the methodology and the inner sense that I tried to make as much mine as possible.

3. How useful was it for you to have studied piano, cello and singing before starting a career as a conductor? Do you believe that your musical path has helped you to be a more complete conductor?

Certainly yes: counterpoint and composition are the essential subjects for a condutcor, but the knowledge of the tools is equally essential. In a compact group of eighty, ninety performers and even more, only one does not have an instrument in his hands and is the condutcor. But he is responsible for everything and must know the characteristics, the possibilities of each instrument.

oren4. You have directed in many theaters around the world such as the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Metropolitan, Coven Garden, Straatsopera in Vienna, the Verona Arena and many more... Is there a theater you are particularly attached to?

My career has turned me into a globetrotter and I have known and loved the lyric cathedrals of Europe, America and the Far East. For some years now, in my heart there is a small theater in a small southern Italian city, which for twelve years I dedicate a slice of my time: the Teatro Verdi in Salerno. Even the staff is small, limited expenses, but we have done and still do a great job for the music and the civilization that it represents for many years now. Lately I have been at La Scala, and I must say that it is a unique experience, theater and staff more than excellent , great music, great participation. Not to mention the San Carlo and the Verona Arena, where I was almost born and raised in my lyric history ... all the theaters I have touched are a small part of me, to which I recognize the same importance.

5. How do you define your conducting and your gestures?

I don't know, a definition of this kind is up more to orchestras, to the public, to criticism, than to me...

6. What is the Opera that you prefer to direct?

I would not want the answer to appear rhetorical, but the last one I direct. For example, now it's Il trovatore that I'm directing in Liege (beautiful theater!). I like to immerse myself in the scores, discover or rediscover their dramaturgy, the motivations of the author, try to serve him to the maximum of my abilities. And this totally occupies my mind and my heart. I recognize, however, that I have a limit: I do not feel at home in Contemporary Music, I participate with greater intensity in the aesthetics that preceded it, classicism, bel canto, melodrama, realism. I love the voices, the power of Verdi and Puccini's masterpieces and similar genre, and the delicacy of, for example, Bellini and Donizetti in offering belcanto melodies.

7. We often see you in the Verona Arena schedules, what is it that connects you to this marvelous theater?

The Verona Arena is a unique space in the world, where the magic of the Opera is expressed in extent and intensity without equal. It is a great repertoire theater, but each title is represented in a scenographic and musical way in an absolutely fascinating dimension. Personally every time I feel a huge emotion and different from the previous ones ... I invite everyone to participate. Also as spectators.

oren38. When choosing a singer for a production what do you research in him?

First of all the beauty of the voice. It's what the lyrical public wants. But also the musicality, which is what the conductors want and that often brings together the ideas of the various artists, even if different.

9. In addition to the Opera repertoire, you also have an intense symphonic career, how do you think it will change your direction in this branch? Does the symphonic direction differ from the Opera one?

Once there was a clear distinction between symphonic directors and Opera conductors. But from 

Toscanini onwards, the trend has reversed and today is almost canceled. I came out of Karajan' hands strictly as a symphonic conductor, then the lyric has fascinated me and I alternate without problems and always with much enthusiasm.

10. What is the figure of the Conductor for you?

It's like a pilot of an airliner. Many collaborate to the perfect success of the take-off, the cruise, the landing, but who has the responsibility of the flight is him.

11. What advice can you give to young people who want to start this career? What is the advice, instead, for young singers?

Passion, study and prudence. Talent, like other qualities of life, must also be administered wisely. In our world, I see too many leaps forward and too many careers that fade for lack of care. Success, if it comes, must be preserved.

12. Upcoming commitments?

I will be in Barcellona at the Gran Teatre de Liceu for Amleto and then many projects will follow.

It was truly an honor to have you interviewed. We thank you for your availability and good luck for the next commitments!
Thank you Maestro.

Original article by OperaLifeTranslated by Dario Medaglia