Fabio Luisi is moving to New York. He and his wife, Barbara Luisi, a former violinist and now a photographer, and their 13-year-old son are moving to New York in May, to an apartment on West 96th Street.
Luisi has reduced his schedule at the Vienna Symphony and declined to extend his contract as chief conductor past the 2012-13 season. “The orchestra needs someone new, someone fresh,” he said. He has also cancelled performances at the Royal Opera House.
The New York Times asked him if he’d be taking over at the Met:
It’s a very delicate situation. I ask you really to understand my position, which is not easy.”
How many ways could he deflect the idea? Just discussing the matter was inappropriate, he argued. Being principal guest conductor was honor enough. “I’m helping Jimmy and whatever they need,” he said of the Met …
… Mr. Luisi is clearly the heir apparent, and many signs point to a Metropolitan Opera someday under his baton. That would be an epochal changing of the guard.
Levine is celebrating 40 years at the house, and you can hear the hum of the hagiography machine. A coffee-table book about his career is out, and a documentary film is on the way. He has signed a contract for his autobiography…
…Outwardly, the two men could not be more different. Luisi is a slim and reserved, almost self-effacing Italian who was formed musically in German-speaking lands and wears ties to rehearsals. He exudes Germanic seriousness and speaks German so well that the language accents his English more than his native Italian does.
Yet Luisi shares with Levine the qualities it takes to run the Met: a wide-ranging repertory that makes him equally comfortable with Wagner and Verdi, Strauss and Puccini; respect and admiration from both singers and orchestra players (two constituencies whom surprisingly few conductors satisfy simultaneously); and accomplished pianism, which helps in accompanying and coaching singers.
He’s like James Levine, an all-arounder,” the German soprano Diana Damrau said of Mr. Luisi. “He loves voices, and he listens and he reacts.”