A distinct buzz was emanating from Symphony Hall Thursday when this writer joined counterparts from two other electronic journals in a one-hour interview with new Music Director Andris Nelsons and Managing Director Mark Volpe. PBS was there doing special lighting and setting up camera positions for what isn’t even going to be opening night, although it may be the beginning of an epoch. Time will tell. As readers must already know, the excitement is about a first among firsts. Andris Nelsons, who has already had made noted BSO first appearances as guest conductor, as Tanglewood conductor, as Music Director Designate at Tanglewood and as Music Director Designate at Symphony Hall, is now (in a one-night-only special event with two stellar singers) making his regular season debut as music director in a season in which he will conduct 10 sets of concerts.
Much has been said of the Maestro’s youth, and indeed at 35 he is the second-youngest conductor to begin his tenure as BSO music director. The full-bearded George Henschel began as the orchestra’s first leader at age 31, while Seiji Ozawa, even with beads and turtleneck, began as a comparatively ancient 37-year-old. Nelsons’s enthusiasm is indeed youthful and exuberant—he seems astonished at his good fortune—and both press and management hope that this will translate into younger audiences.
Tonight’s operatic gala with lustrous soprano Kristine Opolais (the wife of Andris Nelsons) and the heroic tenor Jonas Kaufman promises to be a memorable chapter in the BSO’s storied history. A rather lengthy interview begins below the break. [continued]