One chance to see Duo Baldo

Festival Mozaic show is the pair's sole U.S. date this year

slinn@thetribunenews.comJuly 10, 2013 

If you’re looking for laughs at this year’s Festival Mozaic, you might want to check out Duo Baldo.

The Italy-based musical comedy team performs July 26 in Cuesta College’s Cultural and Performing Arts Center. The concert will be Duo Baldo’s only appearance in the United States this year.

American-born violinist Brad Rapp and his Italian counterpart, actor/pianist Aldo Gentileschi, made their debut with Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli in 2004. They went on to win first prize at two Italian competitions, the 2006 National Short Theater Competition in Florence and the 2009 Musicomicontest in Prato, before performing at the opening of Austria’s Salzburg Festival in 2010.

“We’ve had to work hard and take criticism every step of the way, and we are still doing it,” said Rapp, noting that Duo Baldo will reunite with Bocelli in October in Pisa.

Although he wouldn’t divulge the details of Duo Baldo’s latest show, “CONdivertimentoCERTO,“ Rapp did share a few stories. Below, the violinist and his silent partner discuss Duo Baldo.

Q: Let’s talk about the origins of Duo Baldo. How did you and Aldo Gentileschi first connect?

Brad: In 2001, when I began living in Prato, Italy, I asked my violin professor if he knew a pianist who would enjoy playing through repertoire once a week, so he introduced me to Aldo. I really had no idea that Aldo was also an aspiring actor. A year later, we were entertaining patrons at a popular café in the historical center of Prato every Saturday night. … I would say that this was the most important learning experience at the beginning, that of having the opportunity to test ourselves and our ideas in front of real people. It pushed us to learn quicker.

Aldo: (Silence ... slight nod of the head)

Q: What made you decide that you’d make a good team?

Brad: Well ... I realized that Aldo would do anything I asked him to do, musically and theatrically speaking. I found a sincere collaborator who loves music, has a real theatrical spirit, and also has the creative-analytical mind necessary to give meaning and cohesion to our work. In general, we’ve always had an extremely strong chemistry.

Aldo: (clear nod of approval)

Q: What inspired Duo Baldo’s unique blend of music, theater and comedy?

Brad: Our principal source of inspiration comes from our own natural irony, I suppose. When I was little, my mother would watch Victor Borge over and over, so I had an early introduction to this form of humor. Aldo actually discovered Victor Borge several years after we had already been working together; the interesting fact is that I always saw Victor Borge’s spirit in Aldo even though each is very different.

Aldo: (watching a spider climb the wall)

Q: Where does the name “Duo Baldo” come from? Does it have anything to do with Aldo?

Brad: Actually, Duo Baldo’s name initially had nothing to do with Aldo’s hairstyle. “Baldo” in Italian means “courageous, strong, energetic, bold.” Some people have even asked if it means “Brad and Aldo.” I guess it’s just luck that we chose Baldo for our duo. Later we realized that the name had all these possible interpretations. …

Aldo: (combing his eyebrows)

Q: Duo Baldo’s big break came in 2004 when Duo Baldo accompanied Andrea Bocceli in Pisa. How did that transform your careers?

Brad: Bocelli’s invitation gave us some credibility, but to be perfectly honest, the Salzburg Festival invitation opened so many more doors. … Invitations to prestigious festivals are the most important, the most stimulating and career-enriching for us. (Festival Mozaic) Maestro Scott Yoo knows that riding the coattails of celebrities is never enough, and he gave us a chance only after he actually saw/heard our show. He knows what we’ve been doing over the years and has followed our progress. Having the respect of a musician like him is the top for us.

Aldo: (dozing off)

Q: You’ve traveled all over the globe. How well does Duo Baldo’s act translate in different parts of the world?

Brad: We are still experimenting. (Our recent) performance in Dalian, China, was a very new experience; we had a translator which is also new for us. It was a very successful evening, but I must say that I was out of my comfort zone most of the evening.

In Tokyo this year, I phonetically learned the Duo Baldo text in Japanese in order say everything I needed to say (the sounds are similar to Italian so it was possible). … I spent more time studying Japanese than the violin. …

Aldo: (snoring)

Q: How do you maintain quality musicianship and showmanship while still having a good time?

Brad: You know, I truly believe that Duo Baldo has helped me play the violin better, and Aldo the piano. It has helped us relax, a problem that many musicians have. I used to get so nervous in front of an audience, but Duo Baldo cured this for the most part. In any case, when a musician enjoys what he’s doing, I think he does it better. The showmanship aspect has developed over time. … Great theatrical timing comes with time and experience; experience comes from making mistakes — tons of them!

Aldo: (suddenly wakes up)


Duo Baldo
7:30 p.m. July 26
Cultural and Performing Arts Center, Cuesta College
$29 to $59
781-3009 or www.festival


Now in its 43rd year, Festival Mozaic runs Tuesday through July 28 at venues throughout San Luis Obispo County. Here are four festival highlights.

“Classical Musicians Doing Un-Classical Things”
7:30 p.m. Wednesday ($34 to $54)
Cultural and Performing Arts Center, Cuesta College
This genre-defying concert features works by Mark Summer and David Balakrishnan of the Turtle Island Quartet, plus the world premiere of Patrick Zimmerli’s new quintet for cello, piano, saxophone, viola and violin, “Parisian Memories, Parisian Dreams.”

“Festival Orchestra: Baroque in the Vines”
7:30 p.m. July 20 ($34 to $60)
Chapel Hill, Shandon
Here’s your chance to hear baroque music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Edvard Grieg, George Frideric Handel and Georg Philipp Telemann in an unforgettable outdoor setting.

“Chamber Series: Born from Struggle”
7:30 p.m. July 22 ($34 to $49)
San Luis Obispo United Methodist Church
This intimate concert, which features works by Claude Debussy, Ludwig van Beethoven and Béla Bartók, explores how great works of art can be inspired by illness, warfare and family strife.

“Festival Orchestra: Beethoven and Tchaikovsky”
8 p.m. July 27 ($34 to $70)
Cohan Center, Cal Poly
Scott Yoo serves as both conductor and violinist at this concert showcasing two classical blockbusters: Peter Illych Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto in D major, op. 35” and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, op. 55,” also known as “Eroica.”

For more information, call 781-3009 or email

Reach Sarah Linn at 781-7907. Stay updated by following @shelikestowatch on Twitter.

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