Plácido Domingo Announces Contract Extension for Music Director James Conlon through LA Opera's 2012/13 Season

11.15.10
James Conlon
Los Angeles Opera

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 2013. "I am delighted that LA Opera's audiences will be able to experience James' extraordinary artistry well into the future," said Mr. Domingo. "Under his baton, our wonderful orchestra has never sounded better. This was particularly evident in the powerful Ring cycles he conducted during the summer. I am continually impressed by his expertise in the standard repertoire as well as lesser known masterworks and I am greatly looking forward to continuing our collaboration in seasons to come."

Mr. Conlon came to LA Opera as Music Director at the beginning of the 2006/07 season and has conducted a total of 23 different operas at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion since then. During the summer of 2010, he conducted the Company's first presentations of Richard Wagner's complete Der Ring des Nibelungen. He has conducted popular community outreach productions attended by thousands at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, an endeavor he instituted. He created LA Opera's celebrated Recovered Voices series, devoted to performing the works of composers suppressed by the Nazi regime. He received two Grammy Awards (Best Classical Album and Best Opera Recording) for his conducting of Kurt Weill's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, presented by LA Opera in 2007 and released on DVD by EuroArts. Three other LA Opera productions conducted by Mr. Conlon -- Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata, Walter Braunfels' The Birds (Die Vögel) and a double bill of Viktor Ullmann's The Broken Jug (Der zerbrochene Krug) and Alexander Zemlinsky's The Dwarf (Der Zwerg) -- are also available on DVD. 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. Mr. Conlon has also become a popular guest speaker throughout Los Angeles. Uniquely among American opera companies, his pre-performances 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), UCLA and the University of Southern California.

"I am immeasurably pleased to renew my contract with LA Opera and to continue my collaborations with Plácido Domingo, Board Chairman Marc I. Stern, the Board of Directors and the team they have assembled," said Mr. Conlon. "The past four years have confirmed for me the depth and breadth of cultural life in Los Angeles. It is a great city for the classical arts and education - varied, astute and inspiring. The strength and vigor of the performing arts community is impressive. LA Opera stands in the very center of it all, and I am proud to be a part of this innovative and vital company, and I believe strongly in its artistic future."

James Conlon has been the Music Director of the Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, since 2005. For 31 seasons, he has been Music Director of the Cincinnati May Festival, America's oldest continuing choral festival; he has provided the artistic leadership for more May Festivals than any other Music Director in that organization's 137-year history, and he is among the longest-tenured Music Directors of any major classical music institution in the United States. In 1974, Mr. Conlon made his debut with the New York Philharmonic, and in 1976 with the Metropolitan Opera, where he has since conducted more than 260 performances. He was Principal Conductor of the Paris National Opera (1995-2004); General Music Director of the City of Cologne, Germany (1989-2002), where he was simultaneously Music Director of the Gürzenich Orchestra and the Cologne Opera; and Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic (1983-1991).

During the 2010/11 season he will conduct performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where he will conduct a new work by Osvaldo Golijov, the San Francisco Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Deutsches Sinfonie Orchester Berlin, Orchestre National de France, National Philharmonic of Russia in Moscow, and the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, where he celebrates the 25th anniversary of his debut at that prestigious festival. He will conduct the four remaining productions of LA Opera's current season, Wagner's Lohengrin, Verdi's Rigoletto, Rossini's Il Turco in Italia and Britten's The Turn of the Screw, as well as Puccini's La Bohème at the Rome Opera in the summer of 2011 and a gala concert for Plácido Domingo's 70th birthday at the Teatro Real in Madrid.

Mr. Conlon is committed to working with young pre-professional musicians and, in addition to his continual work with Juilliard ensembles, has devoted his time to teaching at the Aspen Music Festival and School, New World Symphony, Tanglewood Music Center and Ravinia Music Festival. Since 1997, he has been involved with the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, where he initiated a program in which he leads master classes, coaches finalists, and conducts the final round of the competition. This work has been documented in the DVD The Cliburn: Playing on the Edge and in the TV series Encore with James Conlon, featured on PBS for four seasons. He has recorded extensively for EMI, Erato and Sony Classical. Among his honors are the Opera News Award, the Zemlinsky Prize, the Medal of the American Liszt Society and Italy's Premio Galileo 2000 Award, as well as three honorary doctorates. He is the founder of the Orel Foundation, devoted to raising public consciousness about composers who were suppressed by the Third Reich. In recognition of his efforts in championing these composers, he has received the Crystal Globe Award from the Anti-Defamation League. He is a Commander of France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and received the Legion d'Honneur, France's highest distinction, from the President of the French Republic, Jacques Chirac, in 2002.

"In just a few seasons, James has quickly become an essential part of the LA Opera family, and I couldn't be happier that he has decided to renew his commitment to our Company, our audience and our city," said Marc I. Stern, Chairman of the Board of LA Opera. "It has been a great pleasure for my wife Eva and I to get to know James, his wife Jennifer and the rest of his family these past several years, and we are absolutely thrilled that he will continue to inspire Los Angeles with his charismatic presence and extraordinary musicianship."
James Conlon Performances at LA Opera

2006/07 season:
Verdi's La Traviata and Don Carlo; Weill's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny; Wagner's Tannhäuser; Recovered Voices concert performances of Zemlinsky's A Florentine Tragedy.

2007/08 season:
Beethoven's Fidelio; Janác?ek's Jenu°fa; Wagner's Tristan und Isolde; Verdi's Otello; double bill of Ullmann's The Broken Jug (U.S. premiere) and Zemlinsky's The Dwarf.

2008/09 season:
Puccini's Il Trittico (Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi) and Madama Butterfly; Mozart's The Magic Flute; Wagner's Das Rheingold and Die Walküre; Braunfels' The Birds.

2009/10 season:
Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore; Wagner's Siegfried and Götterdämmerung; Franz Schreker's The Stigmatized (Die Gezeichneten; U.S. premiere); Wagner's complete Der Ring des Nibelungen during the summer of 2010.