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Mixing Opera Buffa and Opera Seria: How Mozart describes his characters in Don Giovanni and in his other Da Ponte operas.

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Everyone can agree on the extraordinary psychological subtilty of Mozart’s characters. Italian speakers may particularly enjoy the elegant humor and the wits of Da Ponte’s librettos, but it is clear that the multifaceted insights of each character’s description come mostly from Mozart’s music itself. How does he do that? In many brilliant ways, of course. This conversation will focus on the mixing of operatic genres, which is arguably one of Mozart’s most original tools. Becoming aware of his peculiar hybrid vocabulary can be very helpful for any young performer approaching in particular Don Giovanni and Così fan Tutte.


Federico Cortese has conducted operatic and symphonic engagements throughout the United States, Australia, Europe, South America and Asia. He is currently the Music Director of the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra, orchestra in residence at Harvard University, and Faculty in the Music Department of Harvard University. He is also Music Director of The Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras, a system of orchestras of outstanding young students across New England.

Symphonic engagements in the US include, among many others, the Boston, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, St Louis, San Antonio, Louisville and New World Symphonies Performances in Europe include guest-conducting at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Britain's Opera North, the BBC Scottish Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic to name just a

In Australia, he has conducted the Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Hobart Symphonies, the Australian Youth Orchestra in a tour.

His opera experience includes conducting in Parma for Verdi's Centennial Festival; the Spoleto Festival in Italy and in the USA; the Teatro Comunale in Firenze, Boston Lyric Opera, Washington Opera, Finnish National Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Opera Australia to name a few. He has also created an opera program with the Boston Youth Symphony that is gaining national attention.

Federico Cortese's work as Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony from 1998 to 2003. In that position Mr. Cortese led the Boston Symphony several times in Symphony Hall and at Tanglewood. Additionally, beside serving as Music Director of the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras since 1999 he has served as Music Director of the New England String Ensemble between 2004 and 2009. He has also served as Associate Conductor of the Asian Youth Symphony Orchestra between 2002 and 2008. Other appointments have included Music Coordinator (in lieu of Music Director) and Associate Conductor of the Spoleto Festival in Italy, Assistant Conductor to Daniele Gatti at the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, and Assistant Conductor to Robert Spano at the Brooklyn Philharmonic.

He has taught and guest-conducted in many conservatories, music schools and Universities in the United States and abroad. The list includes - among many others - Yale University, New England Conservatory, Boston Conservatory, Boston University, Longy School of Music, Indiana University and Hubei University in China, to name a few. He has conducted and taught for several years at the Tanglewood Music Center of the Boston Symphony in the Berkshires, as well as the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. He has taught and conducted in summer programs in Hong Kong, Sydney and Spoleto (Italy). He has been for many years conducting faculty and regular guest conductor at the International Aspen Music festival.

Federico Cortese studied oboe, composition and conducting at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome and subsequently studied at the Hochschule fur Musik in Vienna. In addition, he has been twice a conducting fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center. In addition to music, Mr. Cortese studied literature, humanities and law, earning a law degree from La Sapienza University in Rome.

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