ORT’s 2020 Christmas Concert: An Accent on the Feminine


Pianist Margherita Santi will solo at the ORT Christmas Eve concert broadcast online

The Orchestra della Toscana has been active during recent months of restrictions by doing regular concerts in streaming from their home stage at Teatro Verdi, free to their audience via the ORT’s Facebook and YouTube channels. On December 24, Christmas Eve day at 5 pm, the musicians will perform a program with an accent on the feminine. Leading the orchestra will be Beatrice Venezi, born in Lucca in 1990, and appointed as Principal Guest Conductor of the ORT in 2019. She has had an active international career conducting in Japan, Canada, Armenia, Argentina, Lebanon and the United States. In Italy she is the Principal Conductor of the New Scarlatti Orchestra of Naples and of the Milano Classica Orchestra and with the ORT she recorded “My Journey – Puccini ‘s Symphonic Works,” released in October 2019 by Warner Music. Venezi is a promoter of classical music among young people and was recently chosen by the RAI as a judge of AmaSanremo, the new project dedicated to young people competing for the 71st San Remo Music Festival scheduled next March.

The concert will open with the evocative ‘Intermezzo’ from ‘Cavalleria Rusticana,’ the one-act opera composed in 1890 by Pietro Mascagni. The opera is an adaptation of the novella by the Sicilian writer Giovanni Verga, the originator and most important writer of the verismo literary movement, which sought to portray the world with greater realism.  The single act includes an adulterous love triangle, jealousy, betrayal and a duel to the death. The Intermezzo opens the final scene.

Pianist Margherita Santi will join the orchestra for the Concerto n. 1 in E minor by Frédéric Chopin. Santi began her piano studies at the age of five and her exceptional talent was soon recognized. She has performed as a soloist and in chamber music concerts in Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Germany, Austria and Bulgaria as part of many festivals and musical seasons. Santi was presented as “young Italian excellence in the music field” by the Rai Parliament TV channel and is the artistic director of the Herbst Musicaux festival in Verona. Chopin, the piano virtuoso and composer composed this brilliant work when he was just 20 in 1830. The world premiere took place to thunderous applause on October 11 of that year, at the Teatr Narodowy (Warsaw’s National Theatre) with Chopin as soloist during one of his “farewell” concerts before leaving Poland for Paris. 

The evening concludes with a rarely heard work by the French composer Louise Farrenc, the Symphony n. 3 in G minor, written in 1847. Louise was born in Paris in 1804 to a bohemian, artistic family. She studied piano and later composition at the Paris Conservatoire, and for many years had a very successful career as a concert pianist. In 1842 she was the first and only woman to be appointed to the position of professor at the Paris Conservatoire during the 19th century. Admired by Schumann and Berlioz, Farrenc was at the center of Parisian musical life for many years.  In addition to her legacy of compositions and interpretations, she is known for her fight for women’s equality. She protested to her superiors that she was being paid significantly less than her male colleagues as a professor and after heated protest, she was finally granted equal pay.  (anne lokken)