Sir Bernard Haitink: 'He undoubtedly ranks among the greatest performers'
Saturday 13 July 2002
How will Haitink be remembered? As the cautious, reliable – and unexciting – safe pair of hands? As the warhorse who held the Royal Opera back 15 years (arriving there from the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, having produced some of the most memorable Mahler and Bruckner performances in any orchestra's history bar the New York Philharmonic)? The man with dozens of operatic successes no one quite remembers : Haitink's Peter Grimes, Haitink's Meistersinger, Haitink's Ring (with or without Richard Jones's staging), Haitink's Parsifal?
Some say he can't do Italian (ignoring Don Carlo); or the Russians (how about Prince Igor, or last month's Queen of Spades? Or the Czechs (but look at Katya Kabanova, The Vixen, or last month's insightful Jenufa); or (pace Grimes and The Midsummer Marriage) that he – and the board he over-defers to – have championed too little English opera (some truth); or that he should have stuck his head over the parapet (why not oversee Mathis der Maler or Palestrina himself? Why not put his neck on the rack with a Sancta Susanna, Die Soldaten or even that cancelled Salonen Le Grand Macabre? In short, why not branch out and take us with him?
Horses for courses, maybe. The advent of his successor, Antonio Pappano, fresh from Brussels armed with an Italianate passion people don't associate Haitink with, is certainly looked forward to with relief-cum-excitement, if not glee.
Yet to know the man, best ask those who have worked with him, like Sir Thomas Allen.
Allen says:"We should relish our 15 years of one of the world's greatest conductors, both symphonic and operatic. He's not a natural operatic animal. But what you get from Haitink is a fiery temperament underneath, which comes across, whether in Don Giovanni or Figaro, Don Carlo or Peter Grimes.''
"Doing Grimes with him was a fantastic experience – he gets right into the opera's bones.''
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Review: Broadchurch episode 7TV
JK Rowling's story is a far better drama than it is a bookTV
Art Police investigate abuse sent to Paul Cummins over Tower of London installation
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Liam Gallagher brands Kanye West 'utter s**t' during BRIT Awards performance
- 2 Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
- 3 People who sleep more than eight hours are more likely to have a stroke, research shows
- 4 Kanye West climbs on table at Nando's to crowd chants of 'Yeezus' before Brit Awards 2015 performance of 'All Day'
- 5 Muslim women's rights campaigner writes heartfelt letter to girls thinking of joining Isis
Alien 5: Sigourney Weaver will reprise Ripley role in new movie, says director Neill Blomkamp
Madonna falls off stage at Brit Awards – and then nails her performance
Brits 2015: Pharrell Williams only non-white winner as music awards follow Oscars 'white wash'
The Reading & Leeds 2015 line-up if it only included bands with female members looks pretty sparse
Wolf Hall finale, review: Simply brilliant TV
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
Ukraine crisis: 'One miscalculation, and Britain faces an existential threat to our whole being...'