This is an English translation. Click here to read the original Italian
Having long been at the Los Angeles Opera, the American conductor will lead the RAI National Symphony Orchestra: Proud of his Italian origin, it was Maria Callas that gave him confidence
by Valerio Cappelli
“I was born and raised in New York in the 50s”—says James Conlon—“from a Catholic family with Irish, German and Italian roots. I was the fourth of five children, from a home with little money. My great-grandfather, Giuseppe di Grazia, was a musician like me and came from Calvello, a small town in Basilicata.”
Having long held a stable assignment with the Los Angeles Opera (where in 2010 he conducted the company’s first complete Wagner Ring Cycle), starting Thursday he will also become principal conductor of the RAI National Symphony Orchestra in Turin, conducting two Fifth Symphonies (Schubert and Mahler), with the concert broadcast live on Rai5.
For 20 years, LA Opera Orchestra members have been greeted by a very special fan on their way to nearly every performance. Near the Artists Entrance, Tony stands as a sentinel watching and wishing each member well before they enter the opera house and the pit.
“It’s almost a pre-show ritual for some of us,” says Brady Steel, Orchestra Personnel Manager.
But just who is Tony? Tony is homeless. He spends his life on the streets of Downtown LA and before most shows, he’s the first smile that greets members of the orchestra as they arrive.
I’m very excited to have Maestro James Conlon on my show this week! He’s conducted all over the world, is a multi-Grammy winner, a scholar and gentleman. Work, family, and Maria Callas are a few of the things we talked about- I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did!