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The history of the San Carlo Orchestra is closely linked to that of the Teatro San Carlo itself, the oldest in Europe, inaugurated on 4 November 1737 with Domenico Sarro’s Achille in Sciro. Since then the theatre’s music-making has never ceased, surviving war and fire. The orchestra has always been characterised by its strong involvement in opera and in the nineteenth century it had the honour of giving the premières of works by Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi. During the twentieth century the orchestra became more and more active in symphonic performances. Even as far back as 1884, however, the young Giuseppe Martucci conducted a programme of music by Weber, Saint-Saëns and Wagner. It is impossible to count the names of the world’s great conductors who have worked with the San Carlo Orchestra: from Toscanini in 1909 to Victor de Sabata in 1928, as well as the composers Pizzetti and Mascagni, and Richard Strauss who conducted a concert of his own work in January 1934. Between the Second World War and the decade to follow, Naples and the San Carlo welcomed many of the world’s most outstanding conductors, including Gui, Serafin, Santini, Gavazzeni, Böhm, Fricsay, Scherchen, Cluytens, Knappertsbusch and Mitropoulos. In October 1958 the orchestra had the honour of being directed by Igor Stravinsky, and was conducted by Claudio Abbado in 1963 and Riccardo Muti in 1967. At the same time, the theatre’s orchestra began to make a name for itself abroad, thanks to a series of high-profile tours, appearing in France, Brazil, Hungary, Germany, Japan, and the United States. Other musicians who have worked with the orchestra include Daniel Oren, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Lorin Maazel, Salvatore Accardo, Georges Prêtre, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Mstislav Rostropovich, Gary Bertini, Djansug Khakidze and Jeffrey Tate, who was appointed, following Gary Bertini, as musical director in 2005 and succeeded in 2010 by Maurizio Benini.

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