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.''
TV reviewBroadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair
Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere
TVThe Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Avengers: Age of Ultron: Nearly 700 German cinemas refuse to show movie
- 2 Man cooked alive with 12,000 pounds of tuna
- 3 X Factor in crisis as numbers of people auditioning plummets
- 4 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
- 5 Baltimore riots: Furious mother marches her son home live on TV
Fast & Furious 7 overtakes Frozen to become 5th highest grossing movie of all time
Poldark finale review: How a costume drama became a Sunday night swoon-fest
Avengers: Age of Ultron: Nearly 700 German cinemas refuse to show movie
Game of Thrones season 5: Episode 4 preview clip presents the Sand Snakes as HBO reveals new titles and synopses
The Visit: Watch terrifying trailer for M Night Shyamalan's latest horror film
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Bali Nine executions live: Indonesian firing squad shoots dead eight drug offenders despite outcry around world, but a ninth is spared
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon