Conductor Fabio Luisi Begins as Music Director at Zurich Opera with New Production of Jenufa in September 2012

Conductor Fabio Luisi Begins as Music Director at Zurich Opera  with New Production of Jenufa in September 2012

The preeminent Italian conductor Fabio Luisi, who holds top posts at the Metropolitan Opera and the Vienna Symphony, begins his appointment as music director of the Zurich Opera at the start of the 2012-13 season with Jenufa, Janácek's searing 1904 opera about an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Luisi makes his Zurich debut on September 23 with a new production of Jenufa by young Russian director Dmitri Cherniakov, considered one of the most talented stage directors working today, and a cast headlined by Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais in the title role, tenors Pavol Breslik and Christopher Ventris as half-brothers Steva and Laca, and Michaela Martens as Kostelnicka. Jenufa is the first of five operas Luisi will lead in Zurich, with Verdi's Rigoletto and Puccini's La bohème to follow in February and March and Bellini's La straniera and Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier set for June and July 2013.

Luisi's first season in Zurich comes on the heels of a spring and summer during which the conductor led Massenet's Manon for his debut at La Scala, where he will return in fall 2013 to lead Verdi's Don Carlo. Following this summer's La Scala performances, Luisi joined the Scala Philharmonic for a German and Russian festival tour of works by Verdi, Rachmaninoff, and Brahms. Summer 2012 also found Luisi in Sapporo, Japan, where he led concerts and master classes in his role as artistic director of the Pacific Music Festival.

For Luisi, working with top singers in Zurich is a given, he says, but bringing in new directors will also be an important focus for him. "We are starting a new era, a new age, a new time," says the conductor. "Zurich has taken a more traditional approach in the last 20 years, with a focus on the big stars, the big singers. General Director Andreas Homoki is inviting many new and interesting directors, some of them young rising stars." Among those paired with Luisi in new productions in Zurich in 2012-13 are German director Tatjana Gürbaca, whose Rigoletto will feature Aleksandra Kurzak as Gilda and Quinn Kelsey in the title role. Also working with Luisi this season is Christof Loy, who will stage Bellini's rarely performed La straniera, starring Edita Gruberova as Alaide.