Riccardo Frizza, conducting, delivered a wonderful reading of the score. He generated a beautiful sound from the Orchestra del Teatro La Fenice, producing colorful shadings and controlled dynamic variations that brought out the dramatic contrasts and highlighted the salient points in the onstage action….Although Frizza achieved a well-balanced sound from the orchestra and the singers, he took the decision to focus on the individual instrumental sections and their dialogue with the singers, which proved to be an interesting and successful choice as it highlighted a subtlety in Donizetti’s score that can so easily be lost. A special mention must also be given to Nabila Chajai, the harpist, who in the Act 1 harp obbligato, produced a sound of exquisite beauty and clarity, a truly rare pleasure in itself!

A Chat With Italian Conductor Riccardo Frizza

Maria Nockin, Opera Today

Riccardo Frizza is a young Italian conductor whose performances in Europe and the United States are getting rave reviews. He tells us of his love for the operas of Verdi, Bellini, and particularly Donizetti.

Q: Are there any artists or musicians from the past whose work has significantly influenced you?

RF: When I discovered the orchestra as an instrument, I was totally mesmerized and in love with Leonard Bernstein. Several masters of the Italian school, including Claudio Abbado and Riccardo Muti, subsequently influenced me. My most significant teachers were: composer Elisabetta Brusa, who taught me to be able to understand music, and conductor Gilberto Serembe, who taught me the basics and the necessities of conducting technique…Read more here.

With Lyric newcomer Frizza at the helm, no musical gesture was perfunctory, no interpretive decision ill-chosen. The Italian conductor’s marshaling of musical details as they related to dramatic expression — the color and duration of orchestral chording, for instance — was typical of his thorough understanding of Bellini’s score. His seamless pacing and rhythmic exactitude went far toward countering static moments in the staging.

Such was the quality of the orchestra’s responses to Frizza that Bellini’s often-criticized orchestration didn’t feel insipid at all. Director Michael Black’s chorus pitched in with conspicuous enthusiasm.

From Hate to Undying Love – Riccardo Frizza’s Ever-Growing Passion For ‘Norma’ & Italian Opera

David Salazar, Opera Wire

Being a conductor of opera is no easy endeavor. Conductors are generally taking on multiple operas a year, both new and old ones. They have to learn to work with a wide range of different personalities in ever-changing environments, many over which he has no control.

This places greater emphasis on Frizza to be in top form at all times, especially when taking on new operas or revisiting such major staples as Norma.

Frizza has a background in composition and while music is essential for him, his approach to learning or revisiting ones never starts with the notes on the page.


In Conversation with Riccardo Frizza: The ABCs of a Bel Canto Opera

MJ Chen, Chicago Maroon

“When you do a Romantic Italian opera—like a Bellini or a Verdi—you need to tell a story. Drama for me is primary. And you have to be able to keep the tension in the story without dropping it. This is up to us—the conductor and the interpreters on stage—to be able to keep the tension even when some pages are not so well done. We can be very reverent to the composer and not cut them, but we also have to be honest. We have miraculous pages, and we also have just good pages. It depends on the interpreter making these pages interesting. It’s a matter of the conductor, the interpreters on stage, and the director as well.”

…the Lyric orchestra, impeccably conducted by Riccardo Frizza, which makes its own beautiful sound, with Bellini’s overture, alone, suggesting the composer’s ability to slip seamlessly from the most delicate, lyrical, “singing” motifs to passages of great fury.

Arts in Action: Maestro del bel canto — Italian conductor Riccardo Frizza to lead Bellini’s Norma for Lyric Opera of Chicago début

Joseph Newsome, Voix des Arts

Rather than grabbing at greatness by attempting to reconfigure masterpieces of Italian opera to conform with today’s tastes, this son of Brescia earns greatness by reminding audiences of composers’ tastes. In a field too often mired in egotism and elitism, Riccardo Frizza is a Rooseveltian conductor who walks softly but wields a baton with big impact.

The Real Deal – Riccardo Frizza

Lisa Houston, Classical Singer

“That is the instrument I want to play!”

That was the thought that came to young Riccardo Frizza listening to the orchestra on a family visit to Vienna. The man on the podium was Herbert von Karajan. Already a devoted student of piano, Frizza soon took up his orchestral studies seriously, buying and studying scores and eventually progressing with the help of renowned teachers in Milan, Pescara, and Siena.

An important figure in his hometown of Brescia, Italy, Maestro Frizza began his career serving as music director of the symphony orchestra there from 1994 to 2000. During this time he became a popular guest artist at festivals and major Italian opera houses, and from there it did not take long for his career to become international…

Riccardo Frizza worked so thoroughly with [the Orchestra Regionale delle Marche] that he succeeded in involving them in their playing, in ways they must never have experienced before. His strings had bite as well as bark and that is an extraordinary accomplishment for even the finest strings, in the open air. When players are giving more than they thought they could, there may be some blemishes in solo passages (there were!) but these matter little in the all-over musicality. For these reasons alone, the Sferisterio management should sign Frizza up as their chief conductor. The orchestra would thank them.

Frizza is also a considerate conductor with his singers. He understands their problems. And does Verdi ever hand some almost insuperable problems to the lead singers of Otello.

Il maestro Riccardo Frizza: da Donizetti a Freddie Mercury, ma con Verdi sempre nel cuore

Nonostante la giovane età Frizza è considerato uno dei più apprezzati interpreti del melodramma italiano a livello internazionale.

Conductor Riccardo Frizza led with precision and energy and a refreshing straightforwardness—none of the self-consciously droopy tempos many other maestros favor in works of this period. Indeed, he and Michele Mariotti…are about the best in the world at this repertoire. The Met is lucky to have both on its roster.

It was left to conductor Riccardo Frizza to elicit the beauties of the score, and he did so at every turn, drawing luxuriant playing from San Francisco’s responsive orchestra and lending sensitive support to DiDonato and Cabell. The singing was the thing in this Capuleti, and Frizza guided his protagonists with consummate flair.

The musical direction of Riccardo Frizza was one of the most pleasant surprises of the evening. […] He was totally convincing, conducting his forces with both strength and gentleness, always supporting the singers and getting a fine results from his orchestra

Many conductors try their hand at bel canto, but few deliver the extremely pliable tempos, understanding of nuance, and way with light and shade that Riccardo Frizza brought to the score. Showing supreme respect for his artists, Frizza molded Bellini’s vocal line to the extent his singers allowed, lingering over notes and phrases without once becoming mannered. The man clearly loves bel canto writing, and understands its ultimate potential. Bravo!

In the pit Riccardo Frizza gave an elegant, detailed reading of the score that lacked for nothing in terms of drama and passion, but impressed equally in the quieter, more melancholic passages. He accompanied his singers with precision, while at the same time stamping his authority on the overall musical structure of the performance. Like everything else going on onstage, it was a refined reading.

Riccardo Frizza led a beautiful, empathetic, sensitive reading of the work, perfectly at one with his wonderful cast. It is easy for this score to fall into bathos bathed in schmaltz; Frizza and his singers humanized every aspect, from the high jinks of the first act through the ultimate sadness. Using, but not relying on rubato and portamento, with no exaggeration, the story came across simply and poignantly, and the Met Orchestra gave it the attention it gives to Shostakovich and Wagner.

Interview with Riccardo Frizza

The great expert on Verdi

Riccardo Frizza, a real expert on the Italian lyric repertoire and particularly on Verdi’s output, possesses the qualities of the greatest conducting masters: impeccable gesture, an analytical vision that guarantees total fidelity to the original text, and a moving expression that floods all his performances with an overwhelming intensity.

A native of Brescia, a city marked by its industrial background, he inherited from his origins both rigour and precision, qualities which produce an explosive combination when mixed with his Italian soul.

Talking with Conductors: Riccardo Frizza

Among his operas, what do you think is most special about Verdi’s Falstaff? Is there any particular challenge in conducting a comedy?

In my opinion Falstaff is a special opera, especially because it is the genius Verdi’s last opera. Also, having been written so many years after his preceding opera (Otello), it can also be considered as his final testament. With it, Verdi revolutionised Italian melodrama. By magnifying the “dramma” and vicissitudes of mystic characters, he addressed the problematic political situation of an Italy in the process of formation, and he finally decided to end his career with a comic libretto. The greatest challenge in conducting Falstaff is letting all the details in the score emerge. Conducting a comic opera is very different from conducting a serious opera, as you have to feel the rhythm of the comedy, which can be quite complicated at times.

…Frizza’s skill was on display as the tone and flow of the orchestra balanced the tempestuous relationship of Marcello and Musetta in counterpoint to that of Mimi and Rodolfo. Frizza evokes the bittersweet and eternal nature of Rodolfo’s and Mimiʼs love one moment and in the next we return our attention to the temporal nature of the affection of Marcello and Mimi.

Riccardo Frizza led a beautiful, empathetic, sensitive reading of the work, perfectly at one with his wonderful cast. It is easy for this score to fall into bathos bathed in schmaltz; Frizza and his singers humanized every aspect, from the high jinks of the first act through the ultimate sadness. Using, but not relying on rubato and portamento, with no exaggeration, the story came across simply and poignantly, and the Met Orchestra gave it the attention it gives to Shostakovich and Wagner.

Riccardo Frizza’s conducting is admirably precise, keeping a nice flow with quick tempi that never undermine the singers’ ability to fit the notes in.

Riccardo Frizza’s conducting exactly matches Cabell and DiDonato’s marvelous singing. He phrases exquisitely, never distorting or distending the line, but able to stretch it in a most expressive and dramatic fashion.

Riccardo Frizza: Master conductor

…This was a production that depended on a solid account of the music. Conductor Riccardo Frizza, whose previous visit to the War Memorial Opera House was for Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia, made it clear from the opening measures that he was just the maestro to provide such an account…

If Bellini’s score is far from the most compelling, Frizza summoned up a performance that highlighted the virtues while letting the weaknesses just run their course. Most importantly, he showed considerable sensitivity to Bellini’s inventive approaches to instrumentation, always finding the right balance points, not only among the orchestra instruments but also when adding the vocalists to the mix.

Riccardo Frizza’s Seventh Appearance at the Met: The Italian Opera Specialist Becomes a Regular

Frizza (1971) is at the forefront of the latest generation of Italian conductors, following in the footsteps of a tradition that includes Arturo Toscanini and contemporary legends as Carlo Maria Giulini and Riccardo Muti. He was raised in the land of opera…