“If there were a futures market for classical music, the touts would be pushing Lidiya Yankovskaya.”


“Chicago Opera Theater may be entering a golden age in its history—a Russian golden age. The company had its most successful season in a decade last year, with new music director Lidiya Yankovskaya. Saturday night the juggernaut continued… Yankovskaya continues to impress with every performance. Even working behind the singers and stage action, she balanced the large orchestra, cast, chorus and wind effects with great clarity and dramatic point, keeping this complex and challenging score on track with clear direction and firm momentum.”

Chicago Classical Review

“With Yankovskaya firmly in control, the orchestra was lively and idiomatic…”

Wall Street Journal

“Under Yankovskaya’s passionate baton, the orchestra heaved and swirled in massive, dark waves…Yankovskaya is injecting new energy and focus to Chicago Opera Theater. Attention should be paid.”

Musical America

“Yankovskaya conducted with a sinuous but strong-boned rhythmic mastery, and the production caught both the storybook aspects of the piece and its emotional urgency…Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozartean pastiche is deftly pulled off, and Yankovskaya balanced her forces with confident aplomb.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“A defining success in the history of the company… This section and the rest of the score are handsomely realized by the Chicago Opera Theater’s pit orchestra, masterfully led by music director Lidiya Yankovskaya, who never allows the momentum to flag.”

Chicago Sun-Times

“Yankovskaya brought forth brilliantly colored accompaniment from the orchestra, where the most exciting musical action takes place. The chorus, too, proved resplendent, onstage and off.”

Chicago Tribune

“The orchestra, under Yankovskaya’s attentive baton, seethed and suffered right along with Boris.”

San Francisco Classical Voice

“20 For 20 | Artists To Watch. It’s hard to keep track of the force of nature that is Russian-American conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya.”


Russian-American conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya is a fiercely committed advocate for Russian masterpieces, operatic rarities, and contemporary works on the leading edge of classical music. She has conducted more than 40 world premieres, including 16 operas, and her strength as an innovative and multi-faceted collaborator has brought together the worlds of puppetry, robotics, circus arts, symphonic repertoire, and opera onstage. As Music Director of Chicago Opera Theater, Ms. Yankovskaya has led the Chicago premieres of Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick, Rachmaninov’s Aleko, Joby Talbot’s Everest, Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, and the world premiere of Dan Shore’s Freedom Ride.

In the 2021/22 season, Ms. Yankovskaya makes a trio of Texan debuts, leading performances of Carmen at Houston Grand Opera, a tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg at Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and a concert of Gershwin and Dawson at Fort Worth Symphony. Elsewhere, she makes her Minnesota Opera debut with Voices United and leads a program of Brahms and Wagner at Elgin Symphony. At Chicago Opera Theater, she’ll conduct the Chicago premiere of Mark Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus and a concert version of Carmen, starring Jamie Barton opposite Stephanie Blythe.

Elsewhere, Ms. Yankovskaya has recently conducted Don Giovanni at Seattle Opera, Pia de’ Tolomei at Spoleto Festival USA, Il barbiere di Siviglia at Wolf Trap Opera, Ellen West at New York’s Prototype Festival, and the world premiere of Taking Up Serpents at Washington National Opera. On the concert stage, she has been recently engaged with Chicago Philharmonic, Rhode Island Philharmonic, and the symphony orchestras of Hawaii, Mobile, and Oviedo, Spain.

Ms. Yankovskaya is Founder and Artistic Director of the Refugee Orchestra Project, which proclaims the cultural and societal relevance of refugees through music, and has brought that message to hundreds of thousands of listeners around the world. In addition to a National Sawdust residency in Brooklyn, ROP has performed in London, Boston, Washington, D.C., and the United Nations. She has also served as Artistic Director of the Boston New Music Festival and Juventas New Music Ensemble, which was the recipient of multiple NEA grants and National Opera Association Awards under her leadership.

As Music Director of Harvard’s Lowell House Opera, Ms. Yankovskaya conducted sold-out performances of repertoire rarely heard in Boston, including Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the U.S. Russian-language premiere of Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden. Her commitment to exploring the breadth of symphonic and operatic repertoire has also been demonstrated in performances of Rachmaninoff’s Aleko and the American premieres of Donizetti’s Pia de’ Tolomei, Rubinshteyn’s The Demon, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Kashchej The Immortal and Symphony No. 1.

An alumna of the Dallas Opera’s Hart Institute for Women Conductors and the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship, Ms. Yankovskaya has also served as assistant conductor to Lorin Maazel, chorus master of Boston Symphony Orchestra, and conductor of Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra. She has been featured in the League of American Orchestras Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview and Cabrillo Festival for Contemporary Music, and assisted Vladimir Jurowski via a London Philharmonic fellowship.

Ms. Yankovskaya holds a B.A. in Music and Philosophy from Vassar College, with a focus on piano, voice, and conducting, and earned an M.M. in Conducting from Boston University. Her conducting teachers and mentors have included Lorin Maazel, Marin Alsop, Kenneth Kiesler, and Ann Howard Jones.

Ms. Yankovskaya’s belief in the importance of mentorship has fueled the establishment of Chicago Opera Theater’s Vanguard Initiative, an investment in new opera that includes a two-year residency for emerging opera composers. Committed to developing the next generation of artistic leaders, she also volunteers with Turn The Spotlight, a foundation dedicated to identifying, nurturing, and empowering leaders – and in turn, to illuminating the path to a more equitable future in the arts.

Recipient of a Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award in both 2021 and 2018, Ms. Yankovskaya has been a featured speaker at the League of American Orchestras and Opera America conferences, and served as U.S. Representative to the 2018 World Opera Forum in Madrid.