I was fortunate to experience the Prague Summer Nights Program from the point of view of an assistant conductor. As a cover conductor of Maestro John Nardolillo, I worked with the orchestra on symphonies and concertos by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Sibelius, and Mozart. The orchestra, consisting of conservatory students from all around the world, performed in historic venues such as the Rudolfinum, Estates Theater, and Oskar Nedbal Theater. I also had the opportunity to conduct almost all of the staging/tech rehearsals of Le Nozze di Figaro.
I conducted a fully-staged opera scenes concert featuring Janacek’s Cunning Little Vixen, Smetana’s Bartered Bride, and Dvorak’s Rusalka, and I was very excited to see my interpretation of Czech music change as I ate the food there, drank the beer, saw the architecture, talked with the locals, and dabbled at the language.
I went to the Lobkovits Palace museum and saw manuscripts of Beethoven’s 5th and Mozart’s reconstruction of Handel’s Messiah. I went there 30 minutes before it closed, so it was completely empty—a surreal experience.
The last day of the festival was the most shocking and most exciting. I was eating lunch in my dormitory room 2 hours before the concert when I got a call from the festival manager that the music director was sick and that they would need me to conduct the entire Le Nozze di Figaro. Luckily I was very prepared and have worked a lot with the singers and orchestra members throughout the festival, so the concert went very well! To conduct Figaro in the historic Estates Theater was definitely an unforgettable experience.
I am so grateful for members of the orchestra, every singer, coaches, and especially Maestro John Nardolillo, Maestro Timothy Long, opera coaches Justina Lee and Shannon McGinnis, and Director Gayle Shay for their amazing support and inspiration this past month. I hope to see you all again!