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.
Beyond a transition toward bolder opera productions, Luisi says he aims to broaden Zurich's stable of up-and-coming conductors: "I am inviting many interesting young conductors, and we want to establish a relationship and invite someone not just once, but to continue that relationship in the future." Among conductors on the roster whom Luisi personally invited to be part of his first Zurich season are Marc Albrecht (Tannhäuser), Ivor Bolton (Rinaldo), Teodor Currentzis (Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk), Riccardo Frizza (La scala di seta), Eivind Gullberg Jensen (Rusalka), Patrick Lange (Abduction from the Seraglio), Thomas Rösner (Così fan tutte), Ulf Schirmer (Parsifal), Robin Ticciati (Don Giovanni), and Keri-Lynn Wilson (La traviata).
A native of Genoa, Italy, Fabio Luisi studied piano at the city's Conservatorio Nicolò Paganini and in Paris with Aldo Ciccolini, before training as a conductor under Milan Horvat at Austria's Graz High School of Music. Luisi has formerly held top posts with some of Europe's most respected orchestras. He was General Music Director of the Dresden State Opera and Dresden Staatskapelle; Music Director of Leipzig's MDR Symphony Orchestra; Music Director of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande; Chief Conductor of Vienna's Tonkünstler Orchestra, and Music Director of the Graz Symphony. More information about him is available here, and a list of his upcoming Zurich engagements is provided below.