Italy mourns the loss of the opera director Graham Vick who died today at 67 of Covid-related complications.
Vick worked extensively in Italy and the Teatro Fenice in Venice, the Macerata Opera Festival, Rossini Opera Festival and others have expressed their sadness at the news.
La Scala wrote:
All the workers at La Scala are shocked and saddened by the news of Graham Vick’s death.
Born in Birkenhead near Liverpool in 1953, Graham Vick was one of the most significant figures in contemporary directing, a maestro capable of revealing the power of the scores he staged and rediscovering their ability to stimulate and move an audience.
Vick made his La Scala debut in 1996 with the world premiere of Outis, Luciano Berio’s penultimate opera, with libretto by Dario Del Corno and conductor David Robertson. There was no shortage of controversy, but it was a success, and the theatre called on him for the opening of the 1997/1998 season with Verdi’s Macbeth conducted by Riccardo Muti. La Scala had never dared such an abstract and contemporary staging for a Verdi opera, much less for a [season opening on] 7 December, but at the end there were 13 minutes of applause.
Vick returned to La Scala for a new Verdi production with Riccardo Muti in 2001: Otello, starring Plácido Domingo, made use of Ezio Frigerio’s supreme scenic elegance and Franca Squarciapino’s costumes, but still offered Macbeth‘s geometric vision of space. In 2005, the well known production of Tchaikovsky’s Onegin came to La Scala from Glyndebourne, with 19th-century costumes amidst ears of corn, and conducted by Vladimir Jurovsky. Finally, in 2019, Vick returned to La Scala with a new production of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt directed by Alan Gilbert, which was visionary and vibrant with political and sensual passion, starring Asmik Grigorian. Five memorable productions, as different from each other as Vick’s productions were always different, all combining rational insight, boundless theatrical culture and emotional impact, intimate sensitivity as well as a political dimension.
The Teatro Comunale in Bologna said that the theatre was…
shocked to learn of the death of the great Graham Vick. We are currently staging one of his works, Puccini’s La bohème, which won the Abbiati Prize from the Italian Music Critics as best opera performance of 2018. But there have been many other occasions of collaboration with the extraordinary English director, from the Coronation of Poppea in 1993 to the memorable performances at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro including L’inganno felice, Moïse et Pharaon, Mosè in Egitto and Guillaume Tell, and Stiffelio at the Verdi Festival in Parma, which also won the Abbiati Prize.
The next performances of Bohème, on stage from 20 July to 12 August, will be dedicated to his memory.
The Italian cultural television channel, Rai Cultura, has changed its programming for tomorrow to offer Vick’s production of Rossini’s Semiramide from the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro in 2019, as well as La bohème, from 2018 at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, which will be followed by a documentary on the production with Graham Vick explaining his production. Other operas will be made available online.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.