DANIELE GATTI – Overture to a Conductor

A film by Carmen Cobos

In the autumn of 2016 the Italian conductor Daniele Gatti will be taking up the position of chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam. Gatti is a man of extremes in his widely varying interpretations. To him only the composer matters: “the closer a conductor sticks to the score the greater justice does he do to the composer”.

In DANIELE GATTI – Overture to a Conductor the film maker Carmen Cobos (Imperfect Harmony, NELSONS N˚5) presents an insightful picture of Gatti’s youth and his musical development. She portrays him during the opening of the new season at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. At rehearsals we see how he enthusiastically works with the 100 talented but opinionated musicians permanently under pressure to perform at top level. The filmmaker gets close to the artist – in front of his orchestra, and at home in Milan, lounging on the sofa and talking about his life.


Born in a suburb of Milan as the only child in a simple family he reached the top entirely under his own steam. Both his parents worked full-time and the young Daniele would see them for only half an hour in the evening. That half hour, however, was always devoted to music. That’s how, from an early age, he became familiar with Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and even Mahler. His love of music forced him to break away from his football-playing friends. At the age of ten he started having lessons at the Milanese Conservatory “Giuseppe Verdi” in the heart of the city. In the tram on the way there he used to look in admiration at the driver; a recurrent theme in the film that is symbolic for both his love of the city and his wish to conduct an orchestra.

The interaction between these two story lines – Gatti with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, where he shows himself to be the stubborn conductor he is reputed to be, and the biographical lifeline that explains how he became that conductor – confirms the image of a man who has reached the highest top of the mountain, enjoys his achievement, but also knows that there may be strong winds up there.

Daniele Gatti

Chief Conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Daniele Gatti was born in Milan, where at the city’s Verdi Conservatory he studied piano and graduated in composition and conducting. He has been the music director of the Orchestre National de France since September 2008. Prior to this, Daniele Gatti was music director of the Royal Philharmonic (1996–2009), principal conductor of the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome (1992–97), principal guest conductor at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (1994–97), music director of the Teatro Comunale in Bologna (1997–2007), and principal conductor at the Zurich Opera House (2009-2012).

As a guest conductor, Daniele Gatti regularly leads the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic, Wiener Philharmoniker, the Bayerische Rundfunk Orchester, the Münchner Philharmonic and the orchestras of Boston, Chicago and New York. He has conducted many new productions at leading opera houses all over the world and has close ties with La Scala in Milan and the Viennese Staatsoper. Maestro Gatti is one of the few Italian conductors ever invited to the Festival of Bayreuth, where he conducted Wagner’s Parsifal in 2008, 2009 and 2010. At the Metropolitan Opera in New York he made his debut in a production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in 2004, and returned in 2013 for an acclaimed new production of Parsifal, the DVD of whic Since his overwhelming debut in April 2004, with works by Richard Strauss and Wagner, Maestro Gatti very regularly leads the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. In June 2014 he conducted a widely acclaimed production of Verdi’s Falstaff at the Dutch National Opera. Daniele Gatti will be Chief Conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra with effect from the 2016/2017 season.

Since his overwhelming debut in April 2004, with works by Richard Strauss and Wagner, Maestro Gatti very regularly leads the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. In June 2014 he conducted a widely acclaimed production of Verdi’s Falstaff at the Dutch National Opera. Daniele Gatti will be Chief Conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra with effect from the 2016/2017 season.

Daniele Gatti

DANIELLE GATTI – Overture to a Conductor

Music speaks a universal language and has been proven by therapists to be good for us. When it is performed by the best players in the world it is even more rewarding, inspiring and comforting and awakes in us passion and compassion we did not realise we possessed. It appeals to our very core and takes us to great heights or to great depths of emotion.

As film makers we persistently tried and in the end succeeded to enter one of the most treasured temples for classical music: the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam. (RCO). There we met Daniele Gatti for the first time in August 2013 when he was rehearsing a Mahler symphony. Little did we know that two years later we would get to know him in person and that we would make a film about him that he himself would call ‘the mirror of his soul’.

At that time we were attending as many rehearsals as possible to prepare ourselves for our first RCO film Imperfect Harmony (2014). Our first encounter with the Maestro was rather strange. I was quite intrigued by his way of conducting – so precise, measured, yet so full of temperament – and could not work out his nationality. So I approached him and asked: ‘Excuse me Maestro, could you tell me where you’re from?’ He replied, in this temperamental way as only a Mediterranean can respond: “Italy, of course”. I instantly recognized this deeply held belief that our nationality –in my case the Spanish one– is so much engrained in us that people should immediately recognize it, just by looking at us. Over time I became still more impressed by his conducting – by his guiding and encouraging commands, by his beautiful singing to the orchestra if the right words escaped him, by his different tempi and by how handsome a man he was and how southern.

In October 2014 Gatti was chosen as the seventh Maestro of RCO and a film had to be made to introduce him to the Dutch audience. We were invited to make that film. He opened his heart to us; he introduced us to his home city and to his close friends. We wanted to make a film about Gatti the person with his fears, his joys and his memories of his childhood and his parents. So not just of Gatti the professional because that he is a top professional is clear – otherwise he could have never been a candidate for RCO. You only have to look at his conducting to see that here’s a man who knows what he is doing. Who is in fact only really at ease with himself and the world when he stands in front of ‘his’ orchestra. And if you look closely, like we did, then you sometimes see the child in him, treasuring the moment.

People who are born in a cultural city where they can develop their skills are very lucky, I always think. I was born in a rural area in Southern Spain where in the public library you couldn’t even find a copy of a Shakespearean play. I admire that Gatti recognized and used all opportunities given to him and became this great Master. And here we should not forget the strength and help he derived from his faith – something I personally have in common with him.

DANIELE GATTI – Overture to a Conductor is a film about how talent, education and courage can help you to transfer your passion for music to other people and build an appreciative audience.

Carmen Cobos
February 2016

Director Carmen Cobos and producer Kees Ryninks about the film.

The sheer fact that a new maestro took office with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam was reason enough to make a documentary about Daniele Gatti, so rarely does it happen that this top orchestra gets a new chief conductor. And it was special that this conductor, who rarely expresses himself through the media, decided to cooperate in the making of this film. DANIELE GATTI – Overture to a Conductor is the first documentary that has been made about him. That he agreed for his friends to lend their support to the film was for us an additional sign of confidence and a signal that he was ready to show more of himself than purely his musical abilities. DANIELE GATTI- Overture to a Conductor has become more than the portrait of a conductor, Daniele Gatti the person also “cautiously” shows himself in the film.

A documentary about Gatti fits in the oeuvre of films about classical music that we have been building in recent years. We see in the world of classical music one of our own recurring themes: the tension between tradition and innovation. The arena of the Concertgebouw and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam is an ideal place to highlight the clash between the need for change and the desire to retain tradition. Our film Imperfect Harmony focuses on the musical ‘clash’ between Mariss Jansons , an icon of traditional and classical music and composer Louis Andriessen, whose contemporary and modernist work Mysteriën Jansons has to conduct for the 125th year Jubilee Concert. In NELSONS N˚ 5 we show the appeal of the youthful Andris Nelsons , who has the star quality to reach new and younger audiences. Daniele Gatti is an experienced, but also wayward and temperamental conductor, who in terms of repertoire could bring a more contemporary touch to the orchestra, which in recent years has seen a substantial rejuvenation. But will that happen ? That is a question that can only be touched upon but as yet not be answered in this documentary.

What particularly attracted us in Daniele Gatti as the character for our film is his humble origins and the fact that he has reached the top through his own strength and dedication and in doing so remained completely faithful to his beliefs. Making music is for him a way of life. He knows exactly where he stands and what he can do musically and nothing seems to make him deviate from that. Daniele Gatti resisted the temptation to quickly make a name for himself. He has the courage to say no when he thinks he is not ready for something. “How can you play Mahler without experience of life?” Because of his engagement with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO), he is now among the world’s top conductors and that has reconciled him with his existence. People who swim against the current and who are willing and able to overcome their past to achieve their goal, have always fascinated us and in our opinion Daniele Gatti belongs most certainly to that group.

Ouverture voor een Dirigent een film van Carmen Cobos


Igor Stravinsky – Suite ‘De Vuurvogel’ (1919)
Pjotr Iljitsj Tchaikovsky – Suite ‘De Notenkraker’
Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony no. 6 in F major, op. 68 ‘Pastorale’

research, geschreven & geregisseerd door Carmen Cobos
research, geschreven & geproduceerd door Kees Rijninks
fotografie Sander Snoep nsc
montage Diego Gutiérrez
supervisie montage Danniel Danniel nce
locatiegeluid Mark Wessner, Bert van den Dungen
concertgeluid Everett Porter
geluidsontwerp Hugo Dijkstal
redactie AVROTROS Jessica Raspe
eindredactie AVROTROS Marijke Huijbregts

Lengte 78 min | HD | DCP | kleur | stereo
Engels gesproken
Nederlandse & Engelse ondertitels

Voor meer informatie over de film kunt u contact opnemen met:

FILM INCOMPANY – Publicity in the Benelux
Anne Kervers | E: anne.kervers@filminc.nl | T: +31 6 16274537 |
Petra van Horssen | E: petra.vanhorssen@filminc.nl | T: +31 6 55574720 |

een COBOS FILMS productie in coproductie met AVROTROS met financiële steun van CoBO, FONDS21 and NL FILMFONDS PRODUCTION INCENTIVE


ISAN 0000-0004-2261-0000-X-0000-0002-8
©2016 Cobos Films BV & AVROTROS

Cobos Films BV – Production company & cinema release in Netherlands
Nicolaas Witsenkade 18 D
1017 ZS Amsterdam – NL
T: + 31 20 320 33 68

Carmen Cobos | E: ccobos@cobosfilms.nl | + 31 6 558 558 81
Kees Rijninks | E: kr@euronet.nl | + 31 6 502 818 54

NPO Sales – International Sales Agent
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Postbus 26444
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Cinemien – Dutch Distributor – DVD – VOD
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1074 HP Amsterdam – NL
T: +31 20 5776010

Adriënne van den Berg | E: adrienne@cinemien.nl


★★★★☆ Het Parool
“De film zit vol leuke biografische informatie en fascinerende repetitiefragmenten waaruit blijkt hoe minutieus Gatti werkt.€”

★★★★☆ Cinemagazine
“Een aanrader voor liefhebbers van klassieke muziek. Mooi, intiem portret van een charmante maestro€.”

★★★☆☆ NRC €œ
“Mooi is een van de laatste scenes. Een gespannen Gatti tuigt zich op in rok – als een hogepriester voor de eredienst. – Als het goed gaat voel je je soms bijna onsterfelijk.”

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> NTR Podium info over Gatti (rond 57 minuten)
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