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Battling flu, Riccardo Muti flies home to Italy; De Waart to lead 2nd week of CSO concerts

Submitted by on Jan 9, 2013 – 5:09 pm

Breaking News: Chicago Symphony says music director still plans to lead Asian tour Jan 21-Feb. 8 despite missing two weeks of preparatory concerts at Orchestra Hall.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti, suffering from severe flu, has flown home to Italy, according to the CSO.

“He has returned to Italy because he was more comfortable recuperating at home,” said Maggie Berndt by email Jan. 9 from the CSO press office. “He is going on tour as scheduled.”

Muti was in Chicago when the flu forced him to drop out of rehearsals and concerts of this week’s Beethoven program. The program includes the “Eroica” Symphony, which is a cornerstone of the upcoming 18-day tour of Korea, Taiwan and China.

Since 2010, when Muti became CSO music director, the highly regarded maestro has fallen victim to some alarming last-minute maladies and injuries. The gala concert and symphony ball in his honor on Oct. 2, 2010, became an emergency when Muti showed up at Orchestra Hall intending to conduct, but then felt too faint to take the podium.

The audience was kept waiting more than half an hour while violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and the musicians hastily improvised a way to proceed without him. Diagnosed with severe adominal distress brought on by overwork and exhaustion, Muti would cancel the bulk of his remaining autumn CSO residency.

Then, in February 2011, Muti collapsed while conducting a CSO rehearsal and fell forward from the podium, suffering facial lacerations that required surgery. Again, it was the program’s soloist who stepped in to conduct the concerts — pianist Mitsuko Uchida. The cause of the collapse was diagnosed as a heart rhythm disturbance, which was treated with a pacemaker.

This week’s CSO concerts are being conducted by Edo de Waart, music director of the Milwaukee Symphony.

The CSO announced that De Waart will extend his stay and sub for Muti next week as well.  That program features another Asian tour highlight — Brahms’ Symphony No. 4. The rest of the program has been altered to include Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 in C major (Jupiter”).

Miguel Harth-Bedoya, music director of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, will step in for Muti to lead the open rehearsal of the Festival Orchestra — Chicago-area high school students and members of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago —  on Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. at Orchestra Hall as part of the 2013 Chicago Youth in Music Festival. That program remains unchanged: selections from Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 and Verdi’s Overture to “I vespri siciliani.”

Ticketholders may call CSO Patron Services at (312) 294-3000 with any questions. Check for further updates at cso.org.

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