Los Angeles Opera gets to keep James Conlon around for a little longer. Yesterday, the company announced that the New York-based conductor will remain as Music Director through the end of the 2020/2021 season. His current contract was to expire next year.
Mr. Conlon took over the position from Kent Nagano in 2006 and has been a huge presence ever since. Plácido Domingo, LA Opera’s General Director, is a bigger celebrity, but Mr. Conlon’s artistic influence on the company has probably been stronger given his more frequent appearances with them. Despite this, the conductor’s recent 10th anniversary with LA Opera was strangely ignored by them, with the company only now beginning to pay some lip service to the important milestone and the significance of his tenure. Given the number of high-profile operas and orchestras trying fill chief conductor vacancies, the LA Opera — and Southern California in general — is very fortunate to still have him.
His next appearances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion will begin on January 28 with a six-show run of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio. He also will lead Pittance Chamber Music on February 3rd in a performance of Mozart’s Serenade No. 10 in B flat (“Gran Partita”) at The Colburn School’s Zipper Hall, a concert which also features the beloved Mendelssohn Octet for Strings.
The full press release from LA Opera, complete with quotes from Mr. Conlon and others, is below.
Photo Credit: Brandise Danesewich for All is Yar
James Conlon Renews Contract with LA Opera as Music Director
(Los Angeles) January 13, 2017 — General Director Plácido Domingo announced today that James Conlon has renewed his contract as the company’s Richard Seaver Music Director through the end of the 2020/21 season. Currently celebrating his tenth anniversary with the company, Mr. Conlon has conducted 314 performances to date for LA Opera. When he returns to the podium of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on January 28 to conduct The Abduction from the Seraglio, he will have conducted 50 different operas at LA Opera.
“It is impossible to overstate what a profound impact James Conlon has made during his ten years in Los Angeles,” said Mr. Domingo. “The astounding energy and infectious enthusiasm that he brings to his work has made him a beloved figure for our audiences. Thanks to his prodigious musical talents, our magnificent orchestra sounds better and better every season. I myself have taken great pride in the numerous musical partnerships that James and I have shared—most recently in Verdi’s Macbeth earlier this season—and I look forward to many more such collaborations. I am thrilled that James will continue to shape the company’s artistic legacy for many years to come, for he has truly become an essential member of the LA Opera family.”
Since his sensational company debut in 2006, conducting La Traviata starring Renée Fleming, James Conlon has conducted more LA Opera performances than any other conductor in the company’s history. During his tenure in Los Angeles, he has conducted operas by 22 different composers and a total of 24 company premieres. These include the U.S. premiere of Franz Schreker’s The Stigmatized, which was the first American staging of any opera by that composer, and the U.S. premiere of Viktor Ullmann’s The Broken Jug, which was presented on a double bill with Alexander Zemlinsky’s The Dwarf to launch the celebrated Recovered Voices series, devoted to performing the works of composers suppressed by the Nazi regime. In 2010, he conducted LA Opera’s first presentations of Wagner’s Ring cycle, which inspired the countywide Ring Festival LA. Throughout 2013 and beyond, he spearheaded Britten 100/LA, a celebration honoring the centenary of English composer Benjamin Britten. In 2015, he was the principal figure behind Figaro Unbound, a season-long exploration of the leading character of Beaumarchais influential trilogy of plays and their operatic adaptations. In 2007, he launched LA Opera’s annual community operas for families, bringing together professional, amateur and student performers from every part of Los Angeles for large-scale productions at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, presented free of charge. His enormously popular pre-performance talks, which he gives before every performance he conducts at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, regularly draw capacity audiences. Later this season, in addition to The Abduction from the Seraglio, he will also conduct productions of Salome and Tosca at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, as well as a revival of Noah’s Flood at the Cathedral.
“My first ten seasons with LA Opera have been enormously meaningful and I am very happy to continue my associations with Plácido and Christopher,” said Mr. Conlon. “I am especially proud of our orchestra and chorus, and their unwavering devotion and uncompromising artistic standards. I am grateful of our loyal and devoted audience, with whom I have the pleasure of interacting in the context of our pre-performance talks. Most of all, I am thankful to be part of an opera company comprising so many creative, positive and dedicated individuals.”
“These past ten years with James at the podium have dramatically strengthened the power of the LA Opera Orchestra and solidified our world-class reputation,” said Marc Stern, chairman of the LA Opera board of directors. “His leadership and musical acumen have served as the backbone for our company’s artistic success. I’m grateful that we can continue to rely on him as we drive the company forward. On a personal note, one of the great joys my wife Eva and I have had through our association with the LA Opera is the wonderful and warm friendship we have developed with James, Jennifer and their family.”
About James Conlon
One of today’s most versatile and respected conductors, James Conlon is renowned for 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, he is one of classical music’s most recognized interpreters.
This season he became principal conductor of the RAI National Symphony Orchestra in Torino, Italy. He is the first American to hold that position in the orchestra’s 84-year history. He previously served as music director of the Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony (2005-2015), principal conductor of the Paris National Opera (1995-2004), general music director of the City of Cologne (1989-2002), music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic (1983-91), and music director of the Cincinnati May Festival (1979-2016). He has conducted more than 270 performances at the Metropolitan Opera since his debut there in 1976. He has won two Grammy Awards—for Best Classical Album and Best Opera Recording—for the LA Opera recording of Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, and he was recently nominated for two Grammys for LA Opera’s recording of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles. In 2002, he received the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest distinction, from then-President of the French Republic Jacques Chirac. Learn more about Mr. Conlon at JamesConlon.com.
About LA Opera
In just three decades of existence, LA Opera has become one of America’s most exciting and ambitious opera companies. Under the leadership of Plácido Domingo (Eli and Edythe Broad General Director), James Conlon (Richard Seaver Music Director) and Christopher Koelsch (President and CEO), the company is dedicated to staging imaginative new productions, world premiere commissions and inventive stagings of the classics that preserve the foundational works while making them feel fresh and compelling.
In addition to its mainstage performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the company explores unusual repertoire each season through the LA Opera Off Grand initiative, performed in a variety of venues throughout Los Angeles. The company also presents a robust variety of educational programming and innovative community engagement offerings, experienced by more than 135,000 people each season.