"You must inspire the orchestra players," said Maestro Charles Bruck, with whom I studied at The Pierre Monteux School in Maine, "not control them." That has been my ideal throughout my career as a conductor.
For 24 years I was Music Director for North Bay Opera, a regional company based in Fairfield CA. I conducted 21 operas there, including works by Mozart (my idol), Verdi (my hero), Rossini, Tchaikovsky, Donizetti, Offenbach, Bizet, Puccini, and Douglass Moore. I served as assistant conductor for five productions at San Francisco Opera, was guest conductor for six productions at Berkeley Opera (now West Edge Opera), and conducted two operas for Island City Opera in Alameda.
Opera presents the biggest conducting challenges for me, and also the greatest thrills. Imagine conducting an orchestra in a three-hour long concert. Now add solo singers and a chorus, usually singing in a foreign language, moving around on a stage six feet above the orchestra as they play their roles in a drama.
Now inspire them!
Here is a list of the operas I have conducted, sung in their original languages unless otherwise noted:
Le nozze di Figaro
Così fan tutte
The Impresario (in English)
The Magic Flute (in English)
Il barbiere di Siviglia
L'italiana in Algeri (in English)
Lucia di Lammermoor
Béatrice et Bénédict (in English)
Les contes d'Hoffmann
The Tender Land
The Ballad of Baby Doe
Conductor Philip Kuttner kept Verdi’s cauldron of staccato rhythms, flowing waltzes, and brassy outbursts in Macbeth under tight control, while passionately building its climaxes, which Verdi offered aplenty.
– San Francisco Classical Voice
Director Ross Halper and conductor Philip Kuttner work together in The Marriage of Figaro to make Mozart’s music and Da Ponte’s story as flawless a whole as it is dazzling in detail.
– Vacaville Reporter
The familiar music of Die Fledermaus is vivacious and new under the baton of Philip Kuttner.
– Fairfield Daily Republic