JoAnn Falletta on Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade

(Photo: David Adam Beloff)

7th September 2021

Grammy-winning conductor JoAnn Falletta serves as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Connie and Marc Jacobson Music Director Laureate of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Brevard Music Centre and Artistic Adviser to the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra. She is hailed for her work as a conductor, recording artist, audience builder and champion of American composers

As Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, Falletta became the first woman to lead a major American ensemble. Celebrating her 20th anniversary with the Buffalo Philharmonic this past season, she is credited with bringing the orchestra to a new level of national and international prominence. Her recent and upcoming North American guest conducting includes the National Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, and Milwaukee Symphony; and further north, the Toronto Symphony and Orchestre metropolitain. Internationally, she has conducted many of the most prominent orchestras in Europe, Asia, and South America.
With a discography of almost 120 titles, Falletta is a leading recording artist for Naxos. Gramophone Magazine says ‘JoAnn Falletta conducts performances that are assured, spontaneous and superbly played’. In 2019, she won her first individual Grammy Award as conductor of the London Symphony in the Best Classical Compendium category for Spiritualist, her fifth world premiere recording of the music of Kenneth Fuchs. Her Naxos recording of Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan received two Grammys in 2008. Recent and upcoming releases by the BPO for Naxos include the world premiere recording of Danielpour’s The Passion of Yeshua, Salome by Florent Schmitt and Poem of Ecstasy by Scriabin as well as two recordings on the BPO’s Beau Fleuve label—BPO Live: Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2, with pianist Fabio Bidini; and Forgotten Treasures, featuring five rarely played orchestral works.
Falletta is a member of the esteemed American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has served by presidential appointment as a Member of the National Council on the Arts during the Bush and Obama administrations and is the recipient of many of the most prestigious conducting awards. She has introduced over 500 works by American composers, including well over 100 world premieres. In 2019, JoAnn was named Performance Today’s Classical Woman of The Year, calling her a “tireless champion” and lauding her ‘unique combination of artistic authority and compassion, compelling musicianship and humanity.’

Ms. Falletta has held the positions of Principal Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Phoenix Symphony, Music Director of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, Associate Conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and Music Director of the Denver Chamber Orchestra and The Women’s Philharmonic.

After earning her Bachelor’s degree at Mannes, Falletta received Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the Juilliard School. When not on the podium, JoAnn enjoys playing classical guitar, writing, cycling, yoga and is an avid reader.

Scheherazade has been one of my favourites since I was a kid – I’ve always loved it. Rimsky-Korsakov was a sailor in the Navy, and I find it fascinating that he was able to create a piece that makes you actually feel like you are on a ship (in the first and last movements). You can feel that he knew what it felt like.

Yes! Botstein wrote that this piece ‘succeeds as a musical canvas to be contemplated and absorbed, rather than as a musical analogue to storytelling in poetry and prose’ (2018:345). So it’s meant to be quite vague, a lot is left to your imagination.

But do you have a more intricate narrative in your mind when you conduct the piece?

Well, no. Partly I take the narrative from him, and then I generally just live in the music. At one point he attached more specific titles to the movements to say exactly what they were about, but then he decided to take them away. That, to me, is a very important point. It was a license to create our own images, he didn’t want to limit or control us. The whole frame of Scheherazade is this book that he was crazy about: One Thousand and One Nights (it was a 1001 because odd numbers are lucky in Arabic culture). It’s actually a very important book. For hundreds of years these stories were told from person to person, but they were written down in around 850AD. Finally in the Eighteenth Century they translated them into French so Europeans could read them. I think the Europeans were dazzled by the magic, and Rimsky was too.

The Arabic culture was so male dominated, but who is the hero? Scheherazade – a young woman who saves her country from her tyrant husband. The Caliph was deceived by his first wife. As vengeance he decides to marry a new young woman every night and kill them after their first night together. It’s a kind of curse on all women. The chief Vizier is Scheherazade’s father, and he is the one who has to furnish these young women. Scheherazade says to him, ‘let me try. I think I can stop this’. What father would let that happen? But he has no better idea, and things at this point are so bad in the country that she convinces him. She’s so brave.

In the first few bars of the piece you hear the Caliph’s presence – this is on the wedding night, right after they’re married. Sheherazade says, ‘once upon a time…’ and launches into the story of Sinbad the Sailor. I’ve talked to concertmasters a lot about this. They often think of the music without the story, but you can’t just think, ‘it’s my solo’. If you were a young sixteen year-old girl, and you have every expectation that this will be your last night alive, how would you feel? You have to think of how your voice would sound. When I say that people play it differently – softly, sweetly, tenderly and hesitantly. That’s always very interesting to me.

Scheherazade supposedly managed to work the Caliph into all of her stories. She said things like, ‘well Sinbad was very clever, like you’ – she would find a way to make him the central character. I think she launches into the tale of Sinbad at Allegro non troppo (p.13).[1] You can really feel the rickety ship rocking from side to side, and the rolling ocean underneath. He does that spectacularly, how could anyone do it better than Rimsky? The little solos (like the oboe, clarinet, flute etc.) are characters – they’re talking to each other and the story develops. Orchestras fear and love these solos, I think. The winds and solo cello play especially beautiful, singing lines, but Rimsky doesn’t tell us who they are.

With so many solos, I imagine you have a different relationship with the orchestra. It’s not like a concerto, but at the same time you’ve got to put a lot of trust in them.

Exactly, exactly. You have to let them be free to tell their story.


I think within the bounds. I like to create a frame, and they can do what they want within that. If the clarinet wants to start a little slower and then speed up, he knows he has to fit it all in that frame but it’s his moment while he’s playing. You have to encourage them to put their personalities into it, and every time it can be a little different. If the piece were played with no personality it would become dull.

Sometimes when I conduct this with a young person’s orchestra, I have to encourage them. I say, ‘don’t follow me. Come up with a way of making it your own solo’. Of course they’re usually very, very hesitant to try. So I say, ‘play it so differently that you know it could never be that way. Just try it – be extreme’. In helping them by saying they can try anything, they find a way. I really enjoy that. Sometimes I also try and point out duets – particularly when the cello plays with the flute, then the oboe, the clarinet and the horn (p.23-26).

The instruments have different colours and strengths. The horn is strong, so when the cello is playing with it it can play out. But when the flute comes in (p.23), all of a sudden the cello is more gallant. Maybe it’s a woman. So I tell the cello, ‘it says nothing in the part, but you’re having conversations with different characters. You need to modulate how you speak to them’. But all of this is imaginary. I’m not thinking about who it is, whether it’s Sinbad’s friend or the Captain of the ship… These solos and the musical language changes but we don’t want to pin it down. But I know some musicians like to think of certain things while they’re playing – I give them the frame and let them follow their imagination.

So it’s more of a frame that you’d have when conducting a concerto but less of a frame that you’d have conducting a symphony.

Exactly. When you have solos like this it’s in between. They don’t have to follow or fit right in as they would in a Beethoven symphony. They have their moments where they can stray a little bit, and that makes it interesting. But I think those conversations between instruments are even more interesting – how do they react to each other?

The visual aspect of this music is amazing, and interestingly we were talking about this same feature with Respighi as well.[2] He paints such a picture without describing anything.

Yeah, I think he had certain things in mind, even though took the titles of the movements away. The audience know it’s One Thousand and One Nights, and that it’s all about magic and danger. That danger and magic was very alluring for the Europeans. These were people that lived by a different code – anything could happen!

In the second movement (it’s probably the next night) she starts telling the story again. In the book the Caliph decides just to extend her life by one more night so she can finish it. But she always seems to know where to stop the story so she has another night alive. Her voices are similar, with the return of the harp and the violin. It harkens back to the olden Renaissance days in Britain when people would go with a lute from town to town and strum and sing a song.

The pizzicato chords strings (fig. C p.67-69) sound like a guitar as well.

Yes they do. It’s amazing how he could use the orchestra – he was a master. This second movement is crazy with solos. I always have to try and cajole them into thinking that each solo that comes in has to be a little faster. The second movement starts right out with the bassoon (p.63). That is completely free – I leave that alone (and that’s nice for the bassoonist who rarely gets a solo like this). But then when the oboe comes in (fig. A p.64), you can’t do the same thing. You have to pick it up and take it onto a different level. Then the oboe turns it over to the strings (fig. B p.65) and they also have to brighten things up and pick up the excitement level. Maybe the bassoon was an older character singing his story and he takes his time, but it can’t all be slow. That’s where the conductor comes in, seeing the big picture. We all have to go somewhere.

This movement is really amazing – solo after solo, and even section solos. I love the way he does that at letter C – the winds are like a group of people telling a story. They’re all in unison rhythm and it is very descriptive. They finish and then the cello slows the music down (p.69) as if he’s saying, ‘wait I want to add what I think’. Then it goes back to someone else. I think the reason this piece is so appealing is because you get the feeling that the orchestra members are portraying living people.

This middle section (fig. D p. 71) is like a dramatic ‘open sesame’ moment. I’m sure at this point the Caliph is really listening to her.

It definitely feels to me as if it’s accompanying action. It also reminds me of parts of Stravinsky’s Firebird.

Right, the same sort of Russian drama. Something dangerous is happening. Maybe if we knew what it was about it would be less interesting, but we know something is going on. It gets faster and faster, then there’s the long clarinet solo (fig. F p.76) with the strings underneath. It’s so amazing, this texture.

Are those transitions difficult?

They’re very difficult. When you’re conducting a symphony you know the tempo of the first movement. There might be some small changes but the tempo is set. But in this piece it’s like there are vignettes that slow down, and then you pick it up and there’s another vignette. It’s like all these characters are coming to the front of the stage. It can be a little frightening for the orchestra too because they have to be thinking quickly and ready to change suddenly. For instance, at letter F (p. 71) all of a sudden you have the semiquavers in the strings. Then the clarinet comes in. The strings have to keep playing at their tempo underneath it, it can be scary. The Vivace scherzando just after G (p.80) is a very hard spot – the action keeps changing and it gets more and more exciting. At I, this is some sort of janissary band (p.90). Is there an army coming? He writes it as piano, so it’s off in the distance. It’s coming closer, and it gets to the point at K (p.96) where it’s right here.

I thought it was a bit confusing that sometimes Rimsky writes the metronome marks and then other times it’s just the description…

Right, and sometimes it’s just left up to the player. For instance, if you look at 5 bars before D (p.70), the oboe plays that completely on his or her own. The conductor just follows, but then the lower strings and the bassoons are really looking at you at D (p.71 Allegro Molto) because they have to know when to come in. They don’t know exactly how many bars went by with the oboe because it was totally free, and then ‘one two one tadagadaduuuum!’ You have to make sure you show them exactly what’s happening. It is scary, the tempos just change on a dime, they really do. I think that’s why the second movement fills the players with the most anxiety.

That doesn’t surprise me.

There are these virtuoso solos that everyone’s listening for. But those are great, it’s so much fun!

The Vivace scherzando (p.80) after G is hard because you can’t really prepare that tempo. You have to memorise it. I often stop conducting half a bar before that so I can give an upbeat in the new tempo. It’s hard to get them together there. At the Poco stringendo after H – they’re getting louder and closer. You can tell that some of this is horses galloping, more members of the orchestra play and the percussion gets very active. Rimsky is a master, he knows exactly what he’s doing. At K it reaches a climax. He doesn’t really have strings with it, they’re just pizzicato, so it’s definitely some sort of military band. Then there’s the beautiful bassoon solo (p.100), and then right after that a new tempo at M (p.103). The number of new tempos in this movement is crazy – it’s just constantly changing! Six bars before letter O (p.108) they play a sort of rubato altogether, which is very hard. One player can play that but all of the woodwinds and horns playing it together is really treacherous.

What about the moments where people are trilling together or doing the runs up and down together, are they also hard to synchronise?

They’re very hard, there’s a lot of that in the third movement. When they do them alone they can be free but together it’s very hard. He asks for a lot from the players.

Is it a bit like matching vibrato with singers?

Yeah, you have to match each other somehow. He does the same sort of thing with the strings and the oboe at 9 bars before P (p.113). That’s very hard to do altogether. It’s a lot of rehearsal to find a way that’s comfortable, but it’s really thrilling when they play that.

Then Rimsky quietens things down a little bit around Q (p.118) with the beautiful flute and harp part. After that the story starts moving. At letter R (p.120) it becomes very wild – you have to pace that accelerando slowly – just keep getting faster, keep getting faster and the end of the movement is almost like an explosion. That’s a thrilling moment – maybe he escaped, I don’t know! You just know that it’s something dramatic. It’s hard to do, you can’t just get louder and louder. You have to make sure everyone is locked in, because if they’re not it’s not powerful.

Rimsky was wise and knew when he needed to change the mood completely. After all the excitement of the first two movements, all of a sudden it feels like we’re in a beautiful garden. He called this third movement ‘The Prince and the Princess’, so we know there’s a dialogue going on between two people. Here are those runs you were talking about (p.126). When the clarinet plays them by his/herself, again, I always try and encourage them not to play them all the same speed: ‘when you get to the top, stay up there for a moment and then come down. We’ll keep on going, but you can be free in that bar. As long as you start with us and get to the next bar with us you can do anything you like in between’. They have to try it a few times, especially young players, and they decide that they feel courageous enough to do it.

The violins start the movement with this beautiful theme, and then the cellos (fig. A p.127). I assume that Rimsky thought everyone would think it’s the Princess and the Prince answering him. After that they’ve exchanged this love duet, it starts moving a little bit at letter B. They’re travelling somewhere. You can keep it going but even these things are hard to coordinate. At least they are rhythmically measured.

Now D is supposed to be when strong men carry the Princess in a palanquin into the court (p.136). Who knows who the clarinet is, but this is a very important solo! These two people don’t seem to go through enormous stress, so it’s just a question of moving to a climactic point in the music and then coming back down again. Scheherazade says something in the middle of this tale – Rimsky gives her this solo moment (p.152). There is a different solo before M, it is very beautiful (p.153-155) and she goes on to play quite a lot there. Here’s what you were talking about, coming up at 5 bars after M – making those scales line up between flute and clarinet (the groups of 11 and 15 etc.) is difficult. The harp blurs it all a little bit so that’s nice, and I always get the feeling the horn is the main character (p.159-160). Then the violins answer and you can sense that things are calming down.

I love the beautiful way he just picks up the tempo (p.167) and it’s over. If I have an orchestra that’s good enough, I ask them to do a very big diminuendo four bars before the end. They start a little bit louder with the flute solo, the oboe is softer, the bassoon is even softer, and then the final chord in the strings is extremely soft. It’s almost as if Scheherazade just moves away, or the door to the palace closes. I think this movement is just a love story, Rimsky was very wise to put it in third place rather than where it might normally be. I guess he wanted to build up the drama first and then have us relax, before the dramatic last movement.

The fourth movement leaves you breathless just listening to it! She’s been trying to sooth the Caliph for the three years they’ve been together with these stories but he still gets very angry. We hear him here at the beginning of the movement, he’s definitely really mad about something. She’s nervous too – this is the most agitated of her solos (p.169). He’s still angry after that and her next solo is also very  agitated (p.174).

Do you make a point of making sure it sounds like a struggle? I have heard virtuoso violinists make that sound quite effortless.

I tell them exactly that. I say that the Caliph is still domineering, angry and frightening and he’s terrifying her. It’s not like she shrinks off into a corner, but her tempo is faster and her way of playing is stronger. That second cadenza is con forza. She’s really trying to get his attention and calm him down. She starts a story at Vivo (p.174) – thank goodness. Maybe this is the final one – it just keeps building and building. It’s like some sort of chase scene, you can really imagine horses galloping and it sounds like there are a lot of people involved.

There are still great solos, like the one for clarinet at I (p.192-195). They try and play that all on one breath, it’s just incredible, so it can’t be too slow because that makes it harder for them. He brings it back to piano at some points and it keeps building up this frenzy of excitement. We feel that he’s on a ship again towards the end, but before that it gets Spiritoso (p.242) – louder and louder, and faster. Then finally he brings us back to the ship quite a way after W. This is a big moment, the ship is on its last legs. There’s a lot of percussion and brass, it’s the same material as the first movement but more turbulent.

Rimsky actually wrote something in his own score that was totally out of character. 7 bars after letter Y (p.269) he wrote in Russian ‘the ship breaks apart on the rock. The Caliph’s heart breaks open with love’.

This is the whole point of the story. At this point Sinbad’s ship breaks into many pieces, he runs aground on a rock and it completely explodes. It represents how his ‘heart breaks open with love’. At this point she realises she no longer has to tell these stories. The Caliph comes to the realisation that he can’t live without this woman and he’s not going to kill her! He is a changed person. 4 bars later, 2 bars before Poco più tranquillo (p.270) there is an A# diminished 7th chord. The violas come in and it’s very soft. It’s as if he’s looking at himself saying ‘what happened to me?’ I always like to hold that for a long time, it’s just so odd…

7 bars after Y it’s the triple forte (p.269), after that it’s gentle – she sings for the last time (p.273). Then before the end of the Alla breve (p.275) 11 bars after Z (p.274) they sing a duet. His theme is in the cello and bass line (his line is the melody). This time it’s so gentle, as if he’s completely changed. The music just circles around and she carries on singing up there. The frame returns when he brings back the chords from the beginning. Those chords start the first movement, and they end the piece. She, of course, has the last word. In the last 6 bars, there’s just one final solo, and then it ends softly, as if they’ve walked off hand in hand. It’s so romantic. That for me is the frame.

One Thousand and One Nights was very appealing to poor people. In all of the stories that Scheherazade tells, in the end it’s the little person who struggles but manages to stay alive, finds the pot of gold or the genie in the lamp. e.g. Sinbad was a simple sailor who was a hero (and a hero to Rimsky the sailor!) The people who heard these stories or read them in Europe were being told ‘with magic anything can happen. We could become rich, we could live in a palace…’ In the end the King didn’t triumph. People learned a great deal about Arabic culture – the way they thought and what appealed to them – by reading how the Caliph and Scheherazade interacted with each other.

You mentioned the underdog triumphing. Rimsky wrote the opera The Snow Maiden (based on the Hans Andersen tale), which is about a girl who rescues a boy, so perhaps that appealed to him in this piece too.

Right. When you think about it a lot of the fairytales are about that – like the poor little stepdaughter, Cinderella, who’s having a rough time but in the end succeeds.

Sure. Rimsky, being one of the ‘Russian Five’ had access to Balakirev’s sketchbook of folk tunes from when he visited the Caucasus region. There is one tune transcribed that sounds exactly like the opening bassoon melody of the second movement.

(laughs) He borrowed a good tune!

Yep! And another sketch uses a triplet motive similar to the Scheherazade violin solo (Isseyeva 2018:148).

Why not? (Laughs) Well he was a real believer in Russian folk music. They felt that people like Tchaikovsky were too Germanic in style, too continental. Rimsky wanted it to be all Russian, so he uses those tunes. That’s amazing.

Mikhail Gnesin, a student of Rimsky’s, wrote (in reference to the visual aspect of his music) ‘the unusual cogency of the images stem, in large measure, from a lack of superfluous detail, the ability to separate the essential from the extraneous, and from everything that makes it hard to see the object in its most basic outlines’ (cited Botstein 2018:345). Do you agree that less is more in the case of the visual element of Rimsky’s music?

That’s it! He’s telling a story and he wants that point to come across, so he’s not going to obscure it with a lot of complex textures. When he’s showing the waves he actually has the solo violin play a harmonic at the top (p.274). You can picture the waves glistening, it almost sounds like the sunlight hitting them. He concentrates on specific things when he’s telling a story, but I think that’s him in general, and you can never say that his orchestration is anything but brilliant. It’s never dull – I think it was just a gift he had.

I remember speaking to Jakub Hrůša[3] about conducting Carmen at Glyndebourne. He said the hardest part was ‘Habanera’.[4] It’s so famous that he really felt the weight of the audience’s expectations…

… and you have to get exactly the right tempo. Once you start that you can’t really change it – it’s a dance. I agree with him, that’s a very difficult moment.

So does the same thing apply here at any point, as it’s such a famous piece?

You know, I think you have to just go with your feeling for the music. It was tough when I was first learning to conduct – I would listen to a lot of recordings and think, ‘I should do it that way… but no, he does it this way’. Which was right? I realised the best thing to do is just look at the music and do what you think, find your way. But I will say that the second movement is the treacherous one. Everyone is nervous on stage, they know they’ve got this little section in this tempo and all of a sudden it’s going to change… then comes a big solo and then they have to snap into that… That is really treacherous.

When I saw you conduct Scheherazade with a younger orchestra online[5] the second violins were on the right. You don’t usually do that – was there a particular reason in this case?

No. I don’t always do that but sometimes I like to, depending on what the orchestra is used to. It’s really nice when I guest conduct and the orchestra says to me, ‘well maestro, we can change to what you’re used to in Buffalo’. But I say, ‘no, no – I actually like the chance to try something different’. In Buffalo it’s hard for the musicians to do something for one week and then change back. But since they’re used to this different setting, I like them to stay in that so I can hear things differently. And I always do. If the violas are outside and mine are on the inside all of a sudden I’m so much more aware of the viola line. Or if the seconds are across from the firsts, you can feel that interchange between them. It’s almost a challenge of one section to the other. So I like it when I go somewhere and they’re sitting in a different way.

That sounds very healthy.

Which edition do you use?

This one is Kalmus, which is no more. There are a couple of errors in the score but generally this is a good one.

The lengths of performances really vary. The shortest I came across was Gergiev with the Vienna Philharmonic (41mins)[6] and a number are well over 50 minutes.

Right. Gergiev sometimes takes these hair-raising tempos, especially in the last movements. Sometimes they are almost unplayable but I think he takes them fast for that reason – you get this feeling of panic from the orchestra because it’s so difficult. They’re just hanging on… maybe since that is what this piece is about! I don’t think Gergiev believes in over-preparing. He comes in for one rehearsal and he likes the ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ approach. He just gives a downbeat and… ‘we’re off!’ Everyone’s staying together but there’s this sense of breathless excitement and panic that makes some of his performances really thrilling. I think he often does that: takes the fast movement at the fastest tempo he thinks it can go at.

Yes. That’s true, the last movement was taken extremely fast!

I can’t believe there isn’t that much about written about Rimsky-Korsakov. Richard Taruskin wrote ‘in the part of the world we inhabit, the works of Rimsky-Korsakov can be divided into two groups: the unknown and the overplayed’ (2011:169).

(laughs) Well that is true, because he wrote so many other pieces that aren’t played that much. I was listening to Coq d’Or the other day thinking what a wonderful piece it was, but very many people don’t even know about it (and many more of his pieces). But Scheherazade and Capriccio Espagnol are played all the time.

There isn’t really a scholarly biography of him either.

I’m surprised about that.

I know, I think Russians are often surprised about that too. I’m not sure Stravinsky helped, he made quite a few catty comments about him.

But I think Stravinsky was, in his time, much more aware of the public knowing about him and public opinion. Rimsky probably wasn’t – his life was more circumscribed. First he became a sailor, then a teacher, he ran a school – he probably wasn’t thinking of himself as a world figure. Stravinsky knew that he was one. It was easier to get information from him.

Right. Well I think we’ve covered everything! Thank you so much.

Ah this was fun Hannah, thank you. I’m so glad you love this piece as much as I do.


Issiyeva, A. ‘Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and his Orient’ in Frolova-Walker, M. (ed.) Rimsky-Korsakov and his World (Princeton University Press 2018) pp.145-176

Botstein, L. ‘In Search of Beauty: Autocracy, Music, and Painting in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russia’ in Frolova-Walker, M. (ed.) Rimsky-Korsakov and his World (Princeton University Press 2018) pp.301-354

Taruskin, R. ‘Catching Up with Rimsky-Korsakov’ in Music Theory Spectrum, 2011-10, Vol. 33 (2), pp. 169-185

IMSLP Score: Russian Symphonic Music, Vol.13 (pp.11-276) 1991.

[1] All page numbers refer to the IMSLP score

[2] Click here to read the interview with JoAnn on Respighi’s Pines of Rome.

[3] Click here to read Jakub Hrůša’s interview.

[4] On Habanera, Jakub said, ‘the general public is anticipating that more than any other part of Carmen – everyone waits for it. For the conductor it’s a bit difficult because there’s not much you can do to influence it, it’s all in the hands of the singer, and the staging. There is a specific tempo [sings the opening], but again it depends on who is singing, and it depends on the action. It sounds silly but sometimes it’s easier to handle more complex tasks than such a popular aria.’

[5] (accessed 3rd September 2021)

[6] (accessed 2nd September 2021)