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Commentary

James Conlon [Photo by Chester Higgins]
02 Mar 2013

James Conlon Renews Contract with LA Opera

On Wednesday evening, February 20, Los Angeles Opera gave a press conference at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion featuring Music Director James Conlon.

James Conlon Renews Contract with LA Opera

By Maria Nockin

Above: James Conlon [Photo by Chester Higgins]

 

The sixty-two year old conductor had just renewed his contract with the company for five more years, so he will remain in his position at least until the end of the 2017-2018 season. Besides Conlon, the opera’s leadership team includes General Director Placido Domingo and Chief Executive Officer Christopher Koelsch. Conlon, who has by now led more main stage performances than any other conductor in the company’s twenty-six year history, succeeded Kent Nagano at the beginning of the 2006-2007 season. He finishes out the current season conducting performances of Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) and Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella). Next season he will conduct Verdi’s Falstaff, Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), Britten’s Billy Budd, and Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. All together, Los Angeles Opera will present seven productions during the 2013-1014 season.

Maestro Conlon reminisced about his early days in New York, telling us how important local opera was to him as an eleven-year-old boy. It is amazing to realize that ten years after he saw his first opera at a small company, he was working in Spoleto, Italy, as a coach and chorus conductor. Conlon has become immensely popular for his energetic talks and lectures. In addition to his pre-performance lectures at LA Opera, he has become a UCLA Regents Lecturer and will be speaking there on Verdi and Wagner. Having spent much of his career in Europe, the conductor has held important top positions in Cologne and Paris. Currently in addition to his position with Los Angeles Opera, he is music director of Chicago’s Ravinia Festival and the Cincinnati May Festival.

At the press conference, Conlon was asked about the Recovered Voices Program that presents music of composers whose careers were damaged by the Holocaust. In the past, the company has presented some of this music, including Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg (The Dwarf), Ullmann’s Der Zerbrochene Krug (The Broken Jug), and Braunfels’ Die Vögel (The Birds). However, because of the financial downturn the series has been missing for the last few seasons. Conlon said “As soon as money comes back, it will come back. It's only the money.” Meanwhile, the operas mentioned above are available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Maria Nockin

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