James Conlon debuts at the Vienna State Opera, conducts Pique Dame in Rome and the Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
James Conlon recently returned to Europe to conduct two of Russia’s greatest operas: Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina at the Mariinsky Theatre and Vienna State Opera, where he made his long awaited debut, and Tchaikovsky’s Pique Dame with Rome Opera. Following critically acclaimed performances of the operas, Mr. Conlon continued his tour of Europe leading the Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin in a program of works by Weber, Zemlinsky and Bruch’s Violin Concerto with Joshua Bell.
Mr. Conlon returns to Europe in the coming months to lead the Orchestre National de France, the La Fenice Orchestra and Chorus in a New Year’s Eve concert that will be televised live from the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, and the RAI National Symphony in Torino, Italy, where he becomes Principal Conductor in the 2016-17 season. Mr. Conlon recently spoke of the state of the radio orchestra in the International Herald Tribune. Click here to read the article.
Khovanshchina at Wiener Staatsoper
“Under James Conlon’s secure guidance…the Staatsopernorchester played as if it had practiced this repertoire for weeks. The wind solos, the pleasing sound of the musical phrases, and last but not least, the phenomenal harmonious cellos, the powerful sounds of the bells and martial attacks of the brass, all created a dramatically raging sound stream which also carried the effective chor tableaux of the smallest vocal part to masterful main role singing performances.”– Die Presse
“The excellent, dramatically gripping U.S. conductor, James Conlon from Los Angeles, made his amazing, but late debut at the Staatsoper…conducting Mussorgsky’s rugged score with Shostakovich’s rough orchestration; sounding brisk and massive.” — Österreich
“James Conlon provides musical subtlety at the podium of the Wiener Staatsopernorchester.” — News.at
Pique Dame at Rome Opera
“…an already Dostoevskian story for an almost expressionist opera. And such is the interpretation of conductor James Conlon: intense, all consuming, delicate and fierce…”
“Conlon…succeeds in giving the score all of its depth, in its nineteenth century romantic sections, as well as its already mysterious and expressionist ones.” — Il Messaggero
“[Conlon] received the largest applause and ovation from the audience… [he] drew dense symphonic qualities, dark and turbid; or ethereal and and faded, without compromise, as Tchaikovsky wanted it. Conlon doesn’t opt for an exasperated Queen… He extracts and highlights many solo singing moments, soft and instrumentally magnificent. The finale has a sumptuous uninterrupted arc.” – Il Sole 24 Ore
Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
“Conlon relies on breathful and also delicate phrasing in the strings…The orchestra plays with focus and sensitivity…tries never to overwhelm, but remains dynamic and transparent. The listener can keep track of every detail. Similarly, the overture to Weber’s “Oberon”… is just as finely polished.” — Berliner Morgenpost
Ravinia Festival celebrates James Conlon’s final season as Music Director
After 11 extraordinary seasons, Mr. Conlon concluded his tenure as music director of the Ravinia festival – summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra – leading programs that reflected and celebrated his storied directorship. Concerts included works by Mahler, Mozart, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky and Zemlinsky, and in a Festival finale, Ravinia’s first performance of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman.
As part of the final concert, Ravinia presented a ‘thank you’ video commemorating Mr. Conlon’s long association with the Festival and CSO. Click here to watch.
Mr. Conlon made his debut with the festival in 1977 conducting Mahler and Mozart, composers he programmed on numerous occasions over the course of his association with the Festival (including a Mahler Symphony cycle and highly praised performances of Mozart’s operas and complete piano concerti). Mr. Conlon served as music director of Ravinia from 1995-2015, during which he conducted 170 concerts and 281 soloists, and presented 358 different works by more than 100 composers, including 14 operas in concert. His directorship at Ravinia showcased music by composers suppressed or banned by the Third Reich as part of his “Breaking the Silence” series; he also introduced little-known, and sometimes unknown, music of varied genres and periods to the crowds that frequented the festival each summer.
He continues his work with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra this season when he returns to Symphony Center December 17-19 to lead a program of lesser-known works including tone poems by Dvořák, The Golden Spinning Wheel and The Wild Dove, and Czech composer Jan Křtitel Vaňhal’s Double Bass Concerto with CSO principal bassist Alexander Hanna. Mr. Conlon discusses his CSO return and future engagements in the CSO Sounds and Stories article here.
Upcoming performances at LA Opera: Moby-Dick and Norma
Mr. Conlon launches his 10th season as music director of LA Opera conducting two operas new to his repertoire of more than 100 works. He leads Jake Heggie’s epic scoring of Moby-Dick, the 2010 operatic masterpiece based on Herman Melville’s classic novel, as part of LA Opera’s 30th anniversary season, with a cast that includes tenor Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab and baritone Morgan Smith as Starbuck, a role he originated in the world premiere with Dallas Opera, and subsequently performed with San Diego Opera and San Francisco Opera. Moby-Dick will have six performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, 90012) from October 31 through November 28, 2015. For tickets and more information visit the LA Opera website here.
In addition to Heggie’s Moby-Dick, Mr. Conlon conducts Bellini’s Norma for the first time. This classic opera takes a new turn with a cast of young singers including Angela Meade as Norma opposite mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, this year’s winner of the prestigious Richard Tucker Award, who stars as Adalgisa. Norma takes place from November 21 through December 13, 2015. For tickets and more information visit the LA Opera website here.
Prior to each LA Opera performance, Mr. Conlon leads a pre-performance talk during which he offers insight on the opera’s musical structure, themes and drama. Mr. Conlon’s talks are free of charge to those attending the performance and take place in the Eva and Marc Stern Grand Hall inside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.