Riccardo Muti served as music director of Milan's La Scala from 1986 - 2005, and it was probably then he came to be known as the "Emperor." During his time at La Scala, he pushed for strong reforms that saw La Scala become the "Palace of Italian opera halls," and in both name and reality, Muti's rejuvenating achievements were a great part of that. In the 10 years since Muti left La Scala, he has found a pure love of music and now pours all his energy into creating and enjoying music, unlike when he reigned as the Emperor. This may be because he is trying to communicate things he heard while he was with the Philharmonia and Philadelphia Orchestras, such as dynamism, pleasant tension, and propulsive power. Muti's fundamental talent and storied career blended to produce a fertile and pure music after he threw off the shackles of being the Emperor.
Currently, the CSO is following the maestro's thinking and is pursuing a pure sound. There is no doubt that it has become a great orchestra.
It is said that Muti's decision to serve as music director of the CSO resulted from his receiving a great number of letters and signatures from its members. There was great anticipation for Muti's inauguration in the autumn of 2010. In January 2009, the Verdi Requiem concert was completely sold out, and not even sponsors were able to obtain tickets. As a result, they attended a specially held public rehearsal; if a Verdi specialist such as Muti conducted, that would be enough. Muti's repertoire with the CSO is extensive. The 2015/16 season celebrating the CSO's 125th year will see performances from French Baroque to contemporary American, including Charpentier, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Ginastera, Bruckner, Ligeti, and Coriano. In addition, in 2016, a concert performance of Falstaff, associated with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, will also be held. In continuation of the 2011 performance of Othello and the 2013 performance of Macbeth, Verdi specialist Ricardo Muti's plan is to complete the project of presenting Verdi's Shakespearean operas.
Since he's been free of the pressure of being the Emperor, Muti has effortlessly directed America's prestigious orchestra and released one tour de force in the history of the CSO after another, similar to the frontier that Verdi reached in his later years. Muti's flexibility, scale of magnitude, and glorious power of expression reminds one of the words of John Cocteau, "Beauty appears easy."