Conductor Takes His Latest Big Step With 'Don Pasquale' : Music: A decade ago, Evelino Pido set down his bassoon for the baton. Tonight he leads L.A. Music Center Opera.


Speaking about his operatic career, the conductor declares, "Step by step, day by day, we just keep going."

The Italian musician may be too humble. Now conducting Donizetti's "Don Pasquale" for L.A. Music Center Opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (opening today and closing April 1), Evelino Pido has every reason not to be impatient. He acknowledges as much in an interview outside a rehearsal room at the Pavilion, 11 days before the opening.

The fact is, Pido at 41 would seem to be on schedule in his progress from novice to master.

These mid-1990s are important in a career now really only a decade old. In 1985, Pido left a comfortable position as a bassoon player with the Scala Philharmonic of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan to move up to the post of assistant conductor of the orchestra, thus entering the difficult life of an operatic free-lancer.

Nine years later, the conductor, a native of Torino, Italy, made his U.S. debut leading Rossini's "Barbiere di Siviglia" at Santa Fe Opera last summer to favorable response. "Don Pasquale" is only his second American assignment.


He garnered good notices in Santa Fe, however. For example, Bernard Holland, writing in the New York Times, noted that "Saturday's real find was Evelino Pido, a cultured and energizing young conductor from Italy."

And now, the Italian musician points out, the work may be snowballing. After a spring and summer spent in Europe, he returns to the United States in the fall to open the Houston Grand Opera season with Puccini's "Tosca."

He has just come from reported successes with Jonathan Miller's co-production (Covent Garden and Rome Opera) of Mozart's "Cosi fan Tutte" in London and Italy.

Having just arrived from Rome a week before, Pido is still high from the two sets of performances, sung by different casts but, according to him, equally satisfying.

After the Los Angeles "Don Pasquale"--an opera Pido has not conducted in the theater before but has recorded--the slender Italian returns to Italy for a production of Mozart's early "Mitridate," opening April 28.

Peter Hemmings, general director of L.A. Music Center Opera, says, with some pride, that he has finally brought young Pido here "after knowing of him, off and on, for years.


"I first met him, I think, at La Scala. But friends in Australia were talking about him way back in the 1980s, when he worked there. Then I saw him conduct (Rossini's) 'Il Turco in Italia'--in a production much different than the one just done in Long Beach--in Bologna."

Is the conductor now planning, or does he plan ever, to be a specialist?

"Well," the unassuming, elegantly dressed Pido answers in articulate and Italian-accented English, "one cannot conduct everything. But life is music and music is life, and all conductors must conduct the Italian masters: Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini. For me, however, there is one other--Mozart--and that one is very important."

After completing studies at the conservatory in his hometown, the 17-year-old Pido spent two years studying music in Vienna. It was a revelatory experience, he says. Later, back in Italy, he gained practical knowledge as a conductor of chamber orchestras. Still, the most crucial experience in his musical development, he believes, were the 13 years he spent playing the bassoon in the Scala pit.

"That is where I was privileged to hear great conductors leading great music, and with all the important singers then appearing."

In time, he says, he will expand his repertory even further. He shares a dream:

"I love Wagner, and want eventually to conduct all his works. But, I prefer to wait before starting. I would like to have more maturity."

In the meantime: "I am glad to make music. I like the challenge, and this profession offers many. The fascination, the mystery, the magic of music are endless. We are lucky to be in this art."

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