The San Francisco Conservatory of Music is pleased to announce the appointment of Jose Maria Condemi as Director of Opera beginning July 1, 2015. Praised as an innovator who brings theatrical flair and a signature visual style to the opera stage, Condemi has directed productions at major houses throughout the United States and abroad, including San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Canadian Opera Company and Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. He has collaborated with leading international stage artists, renowned conductors and award-winning composers on repertoire spanning from the baroque to world premieres. A sought-after teacher, Condemi has trained young artists at the San Francisco Opera Center, Seattle Opera Young Artists Program, Houston Grand Opera Studio and other elite collegiate and opera training programs.
As Director of Opera at SFCM, Condemi will set the artistic vision for and oversee Conservatory Opera and Musical Theatre productions. He will engage in long term planning of Conservatory theatrical events to ensure successful seasons that are linked to the Conservatory’s mission and curriculum. Faculty member Curt Pajer will become Musical and Managing Director of Opera and work closely with Condemi to plan all aspects of opera and musical theater at the Conservatory, including repertoire selection and casting auditions. Pajer, who has served as music director and interim director of opera at SFCM, works concurrently on the music staff of San Francisco Opera and has extensive experience at major opera companies across the U.S. and abroad.
SFCM President David H. Stull says Jose Maria Condemi’s experience and skills will further enhance the Conservatory’s flagship opera program and enrich vocal study at the school. “I am honored and thrilled to bring Jose Maria Condemi to the Conservatory as Director of Opera. Jose Maria’s superlative work as an artist is only matched by his remarkable mentorship of young singers. His vision for our program is both innovative and compelling, and will accentuate a department of world class faculty that has produced some of the finest young singers in the world today.”
Expressing delight at his appointment as Director of Opera at SFCM, Condemi said the Conservatory’s popular, high-quality stage productions will be tightly integrated with its broader educational goals. “I look forward to collaborating with its distinguished leaders, faculty and staff to design a comprehensive, dynamic and innovative world-class curriculum. Guided by President Stull’s vigorous strategic plan and in alignment with the Conservatory’s core principles of artistic excellence, intellectual rigor and professional expertise, we will offer coursework, training and performance opportunities which will ensure our graduates are prepared for the demands of a career in opera in the 21st century.”
For more than two decades, Jose Maria Condemi has directed and produced opera of a remarkable artistic caliber. His long-standing association with San Francisco Opera has led him to direct several productions for the distinguished company including Carmen, Un ballo in maschera, Madama Butterfly, Faust, Tosca, Così fan tutte and the world premiere of The Secret Garden. Noteworthy directing engagements include Lyric Opera Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Seattle Opera and Cincinnati Opera, among many others. His theater directing credits include Caryl Churchill’s Mad Forest, Dürrenmatt’s The Physicists, Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden and Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba. Upcoming directing engagements include Frida (Michigan Opera Theater), Il trovatore (Cincinnati Opera), Dead Man Walking (Indiana University), Carmen (Lyric Opera of Kansas City) and Don Giovanni (Arizona Opera.) Originally from Argentina, Condemi received an undergraduate degree in opera stage direction at the Teatro Colón/Buenos Aires and completed a Master of Fine Arts in directing at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He was also a first-time Adler Fellow in stage direction at the San Francisco Opera as well as a Fulbright Fellow.
Before assuming his new post in July, Condemi makes his SFCM debut this season as stage director of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore with performances on April 2 and 4. The Conservatory’s performance season concludes when Pajer conducts Britten’s Albert Herring on May 6 and 8. As music director and interim director of opera, Pajer also conducted last season’s groundbreaking production of Postcard from Morocco by Dominick Argento, spearheading a collaboration with Portland Opera, the Conservatory’s first co-production with a professional opera company.
Curt Pajer joined the Conservatory faculty in 2010 and in the fall of 2011 was appointed music director of SFCM’s opera program. For the past two years he has also served as the program’s interim director. In 2012, Pajer joined the music staff of San Francisco Opera. Previously, Pajer was head of music staff at both Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and the Wexford Festival Opera in Ireland and an assistant conductor at New York City Opera. He has served on the music staffs of numerous prestigious companies, orchestras and festivals, including Santa Fe Opera, Dallas Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Houston Grand Opera, San Diego Opera, Opera Colorado, Prague National Theater, the Nissei Theater (Tokyo), New York Philharmonic, Bard SummerScape, Astoria Music Festival (Oregon), Palm Beach Opera, Toledo Opera and Baltimore Opera.
Founded in 1917, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music is the oldest conservatory in the American West and has earned an international reputation for producing musicians of the highest caliber. Notable alumni include violinists Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern, conductor and pianist Jeffrey Kahane, soprano Elza van den Heever, Blue Bottle Coffee founder James Freeman and Ronald Losby, President, Steinway & Sons-Americas, among others. Its faculty includes nearly 30 members of the San Francisco Symphony as well as Grammy and Latin Grammy Award-winning artists in the fields of orchestral and chamber performance and classical guitar. The Conservatory offers its approximately 400 collegiate students fully accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in composition and instrumental and vocal performance. SFCM was the first institution of its kind to offer world-class graduate degree programs in chamber music and classical guitar. Its Pre-College Division provides exceptionally high standards of musical excellence and personal attention to 365 younger students. SFCM faculty and students give nearly 500 public performances each year, most of which are offered to the public at no charge. Its community outreach programs serve over 1,600 school children and over 6,000 members of the wider community who are otherwise unable to hear live performances. The Conservatory’s Civic Center facility is an architectural and acoustical masterwork, and the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall was lauded by The New York Times as the “most enticing classical-music setting” in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, visit www.sfcm.edu.
The San Francisco Conservatory of Music Opera Program provides exceptionally talented young singers from around the world with advanced training in vocal style, acting, stage movement and other essentials of operatic craft. Artistic training goes hand in hand with academic education, professional training and support to help young singers launch successful careers. SFCM’s voice faculty includes acclaimed artists from the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera and other major companies. Master classes in 2014 and 2015 have featured luminaries such as Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Marilyn Horne and Dolora Zajick. Performance opportunities include frequent scenes programs and several fully-staged productions each year, with repertoire spanning all operatic periods. Recent productions have included Dialogues of the Carmelites, The Rake’s Progress, La bohème, Le nozze di Figaro, Così fan tutte, La Calisto, Trouble in Tahiti, faculty composer David Garner’s The Money Tree and Dominick Argento’s Postcard from Morocco, a groundbreaking co-production between SFCM and Portland Opera with stage director Kevin Newbury. Alumni have won acclaim on the world’s major opera stages. Recent graduates include a winner and finalists of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and members of elite professional training programs including the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Program and the San Francisco Opera Center Adler Fellowship and Merola Opera programs.