Appointments / Auditions & Appointments / Los Angeles Opera

James Conlon extends contract to be Music Director of LA Opera until 2018

At the end of my review of last year’s production of Albert Herring, I wrote this about James Conlon:  “Long may he reign at Los Angeles Opera.”

It looks like I’ll get my wish — at least for another five years.

The company just announced that Mr. Conlon has extended his contract as LA Opera’s Music Director through the end of the 2017/2018 season (full press release below after the jump).  Plácido Domingo, the company’s General Director, says this:  “James has had an incredible impact on the artistic quality of LA Opera performances.”

Damn straight.

His impact on the quality of LA Opera has been so good that among certain circles, there was speculation (read: fear) that the native New Yorker would get wooed away to take over the mighty Metropolitan Opera after James Levine was forced to give up the bulk of conducting duties there due to health reasons.

Serious hints that Mr. Conlon would stay in Southern California came up during the season opening press conference this past September when he said, “Los Angeles is one of the greatest places to be, to live, and to make music.”  Today’s announcement makes it clear that those comments were more than just lip service.

This news undoubtably bodes well for Los Angeles Opera’s future.  After suffering through some rather lean years, the company seems to be on the cusp of returning to the level of artistic prominence (some may add “relevance”) that it had during the middle part of the last decade.  I can’t imagine that a conductor of Mr. Conlon’s stature would stick around if he didn’t think — nay, know — that things will be better very soon.

There should be much rejoicing in Southern California musical and cultural circles tonight.

Here’s the complete press release:

LA Opera Media Contacts:
Gary Murphy, Director of Communications and Public Relations | 213.972.7554
Shannita Williams, Associate Director of Communications, Social Media | 213.972.7347


James Conlon Extends Contract as
LA Opera Music Director through 2018


(Los Angeles) February 20, 2013— Plácido Domingo, LA Opera’s Eli and Edythe Broad General Director, announced today that James Conlon, the Company’s Richard Seaver Music Director, has extended his contract with LA Opera through the end of the 2017/2018 season. “James has had an incredible impact on the artistic quality of LA Opera performances,” said Mr. Domingo. “Since his arrival, he has conducted more than half of our mainstage performances, inspiring performers and audiences alike through his extraordinary talents. His vision for the company’s future, like mine, is one of great ambition and optimism. We have so many exciting plans for LA Opera’s seasons to come, and I am greatly looking forward to continuing our work together.”The news was made public today by LA Opera’s President and CEO Christopher Koelsch at a special event honoring Mr. Conlon, held in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion’s Eva and Marc Stern Grand Hall.“I am extremely pleased that I will be able to continue on as Music Director of LA Opera through the 2017-2018 season,” said Mr. Conlon. “I am very proud of the Company’s artistic accomplishments and of its devotion to maintaining uncompromising artistic standards. On a personal level, I enjoy working and living in Los Angeles on a daily basis in a way I could not have imagined prior to 2006. I am grateful to Plácido Domingo and to Board Chairman Marc Stern for the confidence they have shown in me, to Christopher Koelsch for his exceptional collaboration, and most of all, to the musicians of the orchestra, chorus and music staff for making every intense day so satisfying. Six wonderful years have passed in a flash, and I am so happy to know that five more lie ahead.”

James Conlon and LA Opera
Mr. Conlon joined LA Opera as Music Director at the beginning of the 2006/07 season. He has conducted a total of 33 different operas at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, including 18 company premieres and two U.S. premieres. To date, he has conducted 190 performances of mainstage LA Opera productions, more than any other conductor in the Company’s history. Mr. Conlon has been a driving force behind many of LA Opera’s most important initiatives in recent seasons.  In 2010, he conducted LA Opera’s first presentations of Richard Wagner’s complete Der Ring des Nibelungen, which inspired the countywide Ring Festival LA. Throughout 2013 and beyond, he will spearhead Britten 100/LA: A Celebration, in honor of the centenary of English composer Benjamin Britten. Every spring since his arrival, he has conducted popular community outreach productions attended by thousands at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, an endeavor he instituted. He also created LA Opera’s celebrated Recovered Voices series, devoted to performing the works of composers suppressed by the Nazi regime. He has conducted four LA Opera productions that have been released on DVD: Kurt Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny—which won Grammy Awards for Best Classical Album and Best Opera Recording—Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, Walter Braunfels’ The Birds, and a double bill featuring Viktor Ullmann’s The Broken Jug and Alexander Zemlinsky’s The Dwarf. In 2008, he was the conductor of the Plácido Domingo 40th Anniversary Gala Concert, seen in high-definition screenings in movie theaters throughout the United States. Uniquely among American opera companies, his pre-performance lectures have become an integral part of L.A.’s opera-going experiences, drawing a large and faithful crowd. He has been a regular guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and he is actively involved in the city’s music education as guest conductor of the orchestras of the Colburn School of Music (the city’s leading conservatory), the University of Southern California and UCLA where he is a Regents’ Lecturer this season.

Career Highlights
James Conlon, one of today’s most versatile and respected conductors, has cultivated a vast symphonic, operatic and choral repertoire.  Since his 1974 debut with the New York Philharmonic, he has conducted virtually every major American and European symphony orchestra. Through worldwide touring, an extensive discography and videography, numerous essays and commentaries, frequent television appearances and guest speaking engagements, Mr. Conlon is one of classical music’s most recognized interpreters. In addition to being music director of LA Opera, he is also music director of the Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (since 2005), and music director of America’s oldest choral festival, the Cincinnati May Festival (since 1979), where he has provided the artistic leadership for more May Festivals than any other music director in the festival’s 140-year history and holds a place among the longest-tenured music directors of any major classical music institution in the United States. He has served as Principal Conductor of the Paris National Opera (1995-2004); General Music Director of the City of Cologne, Germany (1989-2002), where he was Music Director of both the Gürzenich Orchestra-Cologne Philharmonic and the Cologne Opera; and Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic (1983-1991). Mr. Conlon has conducted more than 260 performances at the Metropolitan Opera since his debut there in 1976. He has also appeared at Teatro alla Scala, the Royal Opera at Covent Garden in London, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Teatro del Opera di Roma. In the course of his career, he has conducted more than 90 operas and several hundred symphonic and choral works.

Click here for a complete list of LA Opera performances conducted by James Conlon.

Click here for James Conlon’s complete biography.

Click here to download a photo of James Conlon.


Rolex is the Official Timepiece of LA Opera.
Yamaha is the Official Piano of LA Opera.

Photo credit: CK Dexter Haven

2 thoughts on “James Conlon extends contract to be Music Director of LA Opera until 2018

  1. Pingback: LA Opera gives Plácido Domingo a contract extension; let’s hope James Conlon is next (plus one more thing) | All is Yar

  2. Pingback: James Conlon extends LA Opera contract to 2020/2021 season | All is Yar

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