When Francesca Dego hears Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, she imagines Natasha looking out at the moon at the end of “War and Peace.”
For the violin soloist, the piece of music is a representation of the Russian soul.
“It has everything from fiery passion in the first movement to obsession in the last,” Dego says. “And the second movement has the most sweet and poetic moment you can imagine.”
Dego and her violin will travel from Italy to Las Vegas to perform the Concerto alongside the Las Vegas Philharmonic for the opening concert of the season Saturday, “Pictures of an Exhibition.”
Dego first picked up a violin when she was 3 years old.
Her Italian American parents are musicians, and they noticed Dego singing along while her father played violin.
“My mom taught me the notes and realized I had perfect pitch,” Dego says. “My dad started teaching me violin when I was 3, then decided it was too early. We tried again at 4, and I haven’t put it down. I can’t remember my life without violin.”
Today, the 30-year-old is one of the most internationally sought-after violinists for her sonorous tone and flawless technique, Philharmonic conductor Donato Cabrera says. She regularly appears with major orchestras and has worked with several esteemed conductors.
Her instrument of choice is a precious Francesco Ruggeri violin, made in Crimona, Italy, in 1697.
“It is a jewel,” Dego says. “A work of art that still produces new art. I am absolutely in love with this violin.”
Understandably, Dego finds that carrying the instrument around the world is a great responsibility.
“For me, playing antique Italian violins is always a surprise. It’s not an instrument per se, but it’s more like meeting someone who enriches you and changes your way of playing,” Dego says. “I can’t wait to share it with the audience in Las Vegas.”
Saturday’s concert will be Dego’s first time performing with the Las Vegas Philharmonic.
While Dego appreciates the mutual trust that comes from playing with familiar orchestras, she always anticipates first rehearsals with new musicians.
“It is amazing how every performance of a piece, even if I have played it many times, changes and is enriched by this magical meeting with new colleagues and new orchestras,” she says. “I really can’t wait to see what Las Vegas gives me in this sense. And what I can give back.”
What: “Pictures at an Exhibition,” Las Vegas Philharmonic’s season opener
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts
Tickets: $30-$110; thesmithcenter.com, 702-749-2000