Chicago Opera Theater (COT) has announced the appointment of Lidiya Yankovskaya as the company’s new music director. An emerging leader in music and opera, Yankovskaya joins COT after extensive work on the East Coast, where she currently serves as artistic director of Juventas New Music Ensemble, the music director with Commonwealth Lyric Theater, chorus master for numerous programs with Boston Symphony Orchestra/Tanglewood Festival Chorus and as a conductor with Boston Youth Symphony. She was selected for the inaugural residency program at The Dallas Opera’s Hart Institute for Women Conductors and serves as a regular conductor for American Lyric Theater and Beth Morrison Projects, two of the leading developers of new contemporary opera in the United States. In her new role as music director, Yankovskaya will lead COT’s artistic vision in tandem with General Director Designate Douglas Clayton and will regularly conduct for COT beginning in the 2018-2019 season.
I am thrilled with the appointment of Lidiya as the new music director of Chicago Opera Theater,” said COT’s Board President Henry Fogel. “She is a remarkable talent, with significant experience working with a variety of opera companies and with both established and rising voices in the classical music realm. Every person we spoke to who has worked with her, without exception, was enthusiastic in their praise of both her musical abilities and her qualities as a colleague.”
Yankovskaya will begin her tenure by supporting the already planned 44th season at COT, which begins with The Consul (November 4, 10 and 12, 2017) by Gian Carlo Menotti—starring famed soprano Patricia Racette—followed by the world-premiere of Elizabeth Cree (February 10, 16 and 18, 2018) by Pulitzer Prize-winning duo Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell and concluding with a double bill of Gaetano Donizetti’s Il Pigmalione and Rita (April 14, 20 and 22, 2018). These three operas will be conducted by Kristof van Grysperre, Geoff McDonald and Francesco Milioto, respectively. All performances take place at The Studebaker Theater (410 S. Michigan).
“Lidiya represents the future of opera,” noted COT Board Vice President Susan Irion. “She is as skilled with operas of the past as she is with works of living composers, and often collaborates with other arts and community groups to create productions highly relevant to her audiences. Lidiya is sure to be a charismatic ambassador of opera in today's world, and we are so honored to have her here at COT.”
A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, Yankovskaya came to the United States in her youth and began conducting at the age of 17. Currently based in New York City, her recent and upcoming projects include conducting engagements with Stamford Symphony, Opera Saratoga and Wolftrap Opera, Rubinshteyn's The Demon with Commonwealth Lyric Theater, the world premiere of Julian Wachner's Rev23 and serving as artistic director for the inaugural Boston New Music Festival. After the completion of those projects, Yankovskaya and her husband will set up permanent residence in Chicago.
Hailed as “superb,” “expert,” and “coax[ing] every possible expressive note from the instrumentalists,” Yankovskaya’s work can be seen this year at Wolftrap Opera, Flagstaff Symphony, Beth Morrison Projects, American Lyric Theater, Opera Saratoga, Stamford Symphony and Boston Symphony Orchestra & Boston Pops. She received the Marin Alsop’s Taki Concordia Fellowship. Additionally, Yankovskaya serves as the artistic director & founder of Refugee Orchestra Project, bringing together hundreds of performers who are refugees from countries around the globe. In her previous role as music director with Harvard’s Lowell House Opera, she conducted sold-out performances of repertoire rarely heard in Boston, including Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades, Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Snow Maiden.
Chicago Opera Theater promotes a mission to expand the tradition of opera as a living art form, “by engaging lovers of music and storytelling through innovative experiences predominantly of new and rarely performed works.” COT was established in 1974 by Alan Stone, and has produced over 120 operas and over 60 Chicago premieres, including its first world premiere commission in 2017.
Chicago Opera Theater has carved a significant place for itself in the operatic life of Chicago and has reached an audience of hundreds of thousands through its main stage performances, community engagement, education programs in Chicago Public Schools, as well as its renowned Young Artist Program.
For more information on the Chicago Opera Theater and its programs please visit chicagooperatheater.org.
Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts
Conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya to join Chicago Opera Theater as music director (photo courtesy of Ms. Yankovskaya).