Internationally acclaimed conductor, NIR KABARETTI has been recently appointed Music Director of the Israel Sinfonietta Be’er Sheva and continues his tenure as Music and Artistic Director of the Santa Barbara Symphony in California and the South West Florida Symphony.
How did you start working for dance?
As a conductor, my very first experience with dance was in Madrid, while I was working at Teatro Real (Royal Opera House).
One day, the Music and Artistic Director, Maestro Luis Antonio García-Navarro called me to his office, and told me that they were planning a Maurice Béjart evening with the dance company of Victor Ullate. I was thrilled for this opportunity, which included one of my all times favourite pieces, Stravinsky’s The Firebird. On that occasion I had the chance to talk briefly to Béjart on the phone – a memory I will always treasure. When I moved to Italy to work at the Teatro del Maggio in Florence, I conducted my first classical ballet production, Coppelia, which was followed by other productions from the main repertoire, and was then invited to conduct other companies such as La Scala, Toulouse, and Teatro dell’Opera in Rome.
What makes conducting for dance different to conducting for symphonic music or opera?
Conducting ballet and working with dancers has some unique challenges.
The most important one is the Tempo, which very often is decided by the choreographer. A classical ballet with a historical choreography has its tempi already established years ago, so no conductor can really change that. It is the same with modern creations – if the choreographer is setting the steps and movements to a slower or faster tempo then the conductor must follow that.
Ideally, for the new creations, choreographer and conductor should work together and make sure the Tempo fits the choreographer’s ideas and at the same time is in line with the composer’s indications and the conductor’s own interpretation.
There are also other challenges like the flexibility and adjusting of the music to what happens on stage, and being in contact with the dancers, and the special requirements of each cast.
Which are the aspects you enjoy the most in your job? Is there anything you would change?
I adore working with choreographs and dancers, and watch how the sound and movement become united, giving a visual dimension to the music.
When that happens, it is an immense joy to be part of. This is a relationship between two major art forms that together make a greater powerful impact.
Photo courtesy of Larry Brandt