“I love food. Full stop.”

Robin Ticciati enjoys his stay at the arthotel Blaue Gans while rehearsing "Le Nozze di Figaro" for the Salzburg Festival. GÄNSEHAUT joined him for breakfast.

It is not the first you are staying at the Blaue Gans and it’s not your first time in Salzburg either, is it?

No, yes, the first time actually, the first time I came, I assisted Simon Rattle doing the Peter Grimes 2005 and I stayed in a monastery, which is the one, you know the Platz by the Landestheater, the one just there. It was amazing and I had to have breakfast basically in silence. It was incredible but I thought next time I come maybe I treat myself to a hotel. And I did the Mozart Woche, that was with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, in 2007 and then I stayed here at the Blaue Gans, it was the first time I stayed here. It is a really warm place. 

Is there something specific to Salzburg to you?

Let me think. I think I love… I love the attention to detail and the sort of relaxed quality of it as well. I also like the food, this incredible mixture of wonderful fresh produce. Yesterday I went to the market at Mirabellplatz. That was incredible. There is something about the food here that I very much enjoy.

Do you have a preferred dish?

Not really, actually, no. I love food, full stop. I don’t really have an answer, Salzburg is a very special place. I love the air here. And this hotel is so special as well. What’s so great is the staff is so friendly and the quality is so high, yet it’s in no way pretentious, you know. They get such a good balance. 

And now you are here again for "Le Nozze di Figaro" at the Salzburg Festival. This of course leads me to the obvious question, what does Mozart mean to you?

He’s not like any other. For me personally, I can only speak personally, he has the most perfect reflection of the human soul, about humanity, but somehow seen from some other place than where we are. He sees it from the sky, or nature or somewhere. I think he understands humanity so unbelievably well, and he shows us with his music that when you hear it, you feel everything that’s possible to feel.

Is this only possible with Mozart?

No, not only. But that is the feeling that I have with Mozart. Also the other thing is he shows us, this is the exciting thing, he shows us what might be possible in humanity as well, he shows us possibilities that people would never dream of. In a very fine way.

How is it with the operas? They can be understood on a first level as well.

Of course. You know, on one level, there’s this crazy household with this mad Cherubino that’s falling in love with everyone, and people dressing up, and people hiding. On one level the story is completely hilarious, I mean, it’s genius. But then you just look a little bit closer and then you see what’s going on. And what’s going on is the most complex world of relationships, and that is amazing. What is so amazing about Mozart is he doesn’t break, he’s not constantly trying to break down the boundaries of the convention, he does it all within convention. That’s why I think he’s even more remarkable than other composers. It’s incredible.

Do you get carried away when you direct?

I have to be very careful because I have to be there to let other people perform. I have to be there to enable everyone to do their best and feel comfortable. And if I’m there, you know, crying in the pit because it’s so beautiful, it’s a complete waste of time. I can cry in my room or I can cry when I’m looking at my scores like now.My role is very specific, but I can love and enjoy the music just as much. But I can’t get carried away, people need me, the people need to know when to come in. 

Do you still play yourself?

I play the piano. On my own where no one can hear it.

Did you have this moment of clearly seeing the path you wanted to follow?

About conducting? Yes, I was playing second violin in an Orchestra in Great Britain and Colin Davis was conducting Sibelius One, God, and he just stood up on the podium and it was just everything that he did, it was the most remarkable experience and my feeling was, I want to, I have to be the one that tells this story with everyone. And that was the moment, that was when I was thirteen. I didn’t have any idea, what it would mean. In terms of the psychology of it, of the amount of work… I just thought I wanted to stand up and make music. 

How does one train to become a conductor?

The training is you have to know the notes as well backwards as forwards and inside out. But you also have to love life, you have to understand people, silence, you have to look at mountains, nature, you have to try and look at everything because only then can you bring things to the pieces. Or they’re just notes. I mean of course you can just make things work, you know, you conduct in time, everything works, that’s actually a big part of it.

You just described conducting as telling a story. Are there stories that you know you will want to tell at some point?

I don’t really think of them as programmatic stories like that. But you make me think. Of course my life hasn’t involved, I mean, you know, anger, death, those kind of colours, you know, that hasn’t really entered my life yet, and of course, going through things, than those stories will emerge more . At the moment I just have to imagine. There are so many stories and journeys to go on. 

Maybe there is a particular piece of music that you would want to…?

…Wait for? Oh God, there a lots of, I mean, you just have to look at, you know, Parsifal and Tristan, or Beethoven Nine, you know. There are lots of things I would want to wait for, because they are so monumental. But then another time you just have to go through it and see.

Text: KB / Bild: askonas holt / markenredaktion blaue gans salzburg