James Conlon launches LA Opera season with Carmen
On September 9, Music Director James Conlon launched LA Opera’s 2017–18 season conducting his first production of Bizet’s Carmen with the company. Featuring soprano Ana María Martínez in the title role, Carmen runs until October 1.
“James Conlon’s performance was a reminder of the musical brilliance of Bizet’s creation. And while the opera’s plot and characters … may be Spanish to the core, the musical soul of the opera is decidedly French. It was Conlon’s attention to French sensuality of melody and musical texture, combined with brooding drama and effervescent lightness that turned an evening that could have been another go-round for an operatic cliché into a vibrantly rich, emotionally engaging experience.”
Los Angeles Daily News, Jim Farber, September 11, 2017
“What audiences missed the last time “Carmen” came to Los Angeles was Music Director James Conlon’s superb conducting. Conlon extracted only the most sensual and exciting tones from the talented orchestra…”
OperaWire, Arya Roshanian, September 12, 2017
“Conlon conducts a smoothly fluid performance, slickly played by the first-rate L.A. Opera Orchestra…”
Los Angeles Times, Mark Swed, September 10, 2017
“No matter how many times I listen to CARMEN, when I hear James Conlon conduct it I find something new. In this performance he allowed the characters to feel the nuances of the music as he unveiled hidden gems among the free-flowing melodies. Leading the orchestra with rhythmic verve, he brought out the composer’s exquisite musical colors.”
Broadway World, Maria Nockin, September 10, 2017
“Conductor James Conlon and the LA Opera Orchestra played like the true virtuosi they have become.”
Parterre Box, Patrick Mack, September 12, 2017
“The outstanding LA Opera orchestra, under the direction of maestro James Conlon, is in perfect form, tone and detail as are the incredible choruses who fill the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with the power and beauty of the human voice as a collective.”
Living Out Loud, Humberto Capiro, September 14, 2017
“…the genius conducting work of James Conlon, who has done Bizet’s renowned compositions a triumphant justice…”
LA Excites, Imaan Jalali, September 16, 2017
“As always, you can count on James Conlon for flawless, masterly support of the singers.”
CultureVulture, Karen Weinstein, September 9, 2017
“…it was Conlon’s interpretation of Bizet’s score, sublimely played by the LA Opera Orchestra, along with a solid cast that allowed this production to soar.”
Seen and Heard International, September 16, 2017
“…a luscious focus on beauty in Conlon’s hands.”
Society 805, Daniel Kepl, September 23, 2017
Mr. Conlon’s LA Opera season continues with:
- Verdi’s Nabucco (October 14 – November 19): Starring Plácido Domingo in the title role.
- Bernstein’s Candide (January 27 – February 18; in celebration of the composer’s birth centennial): Featuring Kelsey Grammer as Voltaire/Pangloss, Jack Swanson as Candide, and Erin Morley as Cunegonde.
- Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice (March 10–25): Collaboration with the Joffrey Ballet; Featuring Maxim Mironov and Lisette Oropesa in the title roles.
Summer Recap: Mozart and Verdi in Spoleto and Madrid
In June and July, James Conlon conducted Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Italy’s Spoleto Festival, concluding a three-year cycle of the composer’s Da Ponte trilogy, with productions of Così fan tutte in 2015 and Le Nozze di Figaro in 2016. In these performances, he conducted the Cherubini Orchestra, an orchestra of young Italian musicians founded by Riccardo Muti in 2004. Past performances at the Spoleto Festival include Mr. Conlon’s first public appearance conducting an opera—Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov in 1971.
“The Spoleto Festival opened with Mozart’s Don Giovanni, conducted with sure command by James Conlon.”
Corriere della Sera, July 3, 2017
“The production was once again entrusted to the prize-winning LA duo of orchestra conductor James Conlon and director Giorgio Ferrara, the tireless artistic director of the Festival. And they were again the pillars of this new impeccable production both musically and in terms of the production’s intelligently innovative staging…”
Il Tempo, Lorenzo Tozzi, July 2, 2017
“…the Cherubini Orchestra was conducted masterfully by James Conlon.”
Corriere del’Umbria, Chiara Fabrizi, July 1 2017
“James Conlon, an expert conductor, who has led thoughtful interpretations of the Da Ponte trilogy, always in concert with the Cherubini Orchestra…”
Il Sole 24 ORE, Carla Moreni, July 10, 2017
“James Conlon is a magnificent orchestra conductor. The public is aware of this and has given him warm applause … Giorgio Ferrara also knows this, having trusted him and the Cherubini Orchestra with the realization of Mozart’s trilogy.”
Tuttoggi.info, Carlo Vantaggioli, July 1, 2017
In mid-July following Don Giovanni, Mr. Conlon conducted concert performances of Verdi’s Macbeth in Madrid at the Teatro Real. The performance starred Plácido Domingo in the title role and also featured Ildebrando D´Arcangelo as Banco and Anna Pirozzi as Lady Macbeth.
“Domingo has a long professional relationship with James Conlon—as Conlon is the musical director of LA Opera—and their artistic chemistry was readily apparent. Conlon, who has directed “Macbeth” more than 50 times in his career, led a powerful and intriguing performance, in total harmony with the drama … despite the absence of an elaborate staging. And the audience at the Teatro Real liked it so much that his return to the pit in the second part prompted a long standing ovation. Another erupted at the end of the performance, with an emotional Domingo thanking everyone “from the heart”.”
El Economista, July 12, 2017
“James Conlon returns to offer an enthusiastic interpretation rich in melody…”
El Mundo, Dario Prieto, July 12, 2017
“…an enjoyable performance thanks to the presence in the pit of a great conductor. Since the first bar, James Conlon brought out the harshness of the drama with a performance at once haunting, rough, dark, and grave. The dense strings and effervescent bass were matched by the exact and vibrant response of the choir.”
ABC, Alberto Gonzalez Lapuente, July 12 2017
“Before the orchestra, Conlon’s baton was in perfect agreement with the staging and led the Orchestra of the Teatro Real with mastery. And the great intermezzo between Acts II and III, so little heard, beautifully demonstrated Verdi’s symphonic ability.”
El Diario Vasco, July 19, 2017
“James Conlon has always seemed to me an excellent opera conductor, dating from the years when I used to see him in Paris at the Bastille. His appearances in Madrid are usually in concert versions and often with Plácido Domingo in the cast. Once again, Conlon’s conducting was bright and energetic, and he drew superb performances from both orchestra and chorus. It’s a pity that we don’t see him more often in Spanish opera theatres.”
Opera World, July 18, 2017; Seen and Heard International, July 21, 2017
(Reviews above translated from Italian and Spanish.)
Second Season as Principal Conductor of the
RAI National Symphony Orchestra
In fall 2016, James Conlon began his tenure as the first American to hold the position of Principal Conductor with the RAI National Symphony Orchestra (Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai), established in 1931 as the official ensemble of the Italian public broadcasting network, Rai (Radiotelevisione Italiana). Highlights of his 2017–18 season with the Orchestra include the complete Brahms symphonies (Nos. 1 & 3; Nos. 2 & 4), a program of Dvořák’s The Golden Spinning Wheel and Mahler’s Das klagende Lied, and concert performances of Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer. The season begins on October 20, and a complete calendar of events is available here.
Additional Engagements in the U.S. and Abroad
As a guest conductor in the U.S. this season, James Conlon appears with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In Cincinnati (January 12 &13), he conducts Mahler’s First Symphony, Mozart’s Third Violin Concerto (Jennifer Frautschi), and Schubert’s Rosamunde Overture, while in Los Angeles (February 23–25), he conducts the world premiere of Nico Muhly’s Organ Concerto (James McVinnie; L.A. Philharmonic commission), Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (arr. Ravel), and Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin.
In Europe, Mr. Conlon appears in both the concert hall and opera house. At the Wiener Staatsoper in June, he conducts a David McVicar production of Verdi’s Falstaff, and at the Opera di Roma the month prior, he conducts a new production of Britten’s Billy Budd directed by Deborah Warner. In concert, he conducts the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (Alisa Weilerstein, cello), NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Orchestre de Paris (Aga Mikolaj, soprano; Christopher Maltman, baritone), Orquesta Nacional de España (Aga Mikolaj, soprano; Martin Gantner, baritone), and the Rotterdam Philharmonic (Nelson Freire, piano).
A full listing of Mr. Conlon’s upcoming performances can be found on his website here.