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James Colon to retire as Los Angeles Opera music director after 2025-26 season, end 20-year tenure


James Conlon will quit as song director of the Los Angeles Opera on the finish of the 2025-26 season, finishing a 20-year run that can have spanned part the corporate’s historical past.

Conlon made the announcement Wednesday, 5 days prior to his 74th birthday. He’s going to change into conductor laureate in 2026-27 and intends to go back to the LA Opera as a visitor conductor.

“It will be my 20th anniversary as the music director. It will be the 40th anniversary of the company. We wanted to do that together,” Conlon stated in a phone interview. “I am not retiring. I’m not stopping conducting. I have a lot of other activities I’m going to do. But I’m a certain age. I’m going to be 76 years old by then.”

The LA Opera started performances in 1986 and Kent Nagano become predominant conductor in 2001-02, after was once promoted to song director in 2003. Conlon changed him for 2006-07 and has led greater than 460 performances in LA of 68 operas through 32 composers.

“He’s made a titanic impact,” corporate CEO Christopher Koelsch stated. “It felt like the right time for generational change.”

Conlon anticipates his efficiency general will succeed in 500 through the generation he steps indisposed.

“I want to devote myself more urgently to other things about American musical life that I think are bigger and more important than any individual orchestra or opera company and that is education, gaining back the audience,” Conlon stated. “I remember how things were in New York public school system when I grew up in the ’50s and ‘60s. … We all know that that disappeared a long time ago, and we are seeing the effects in the audience in our country. We didn’t create this problem — orchestras, opera companies, chamber music series — but we have to fix it.”

Conlon was once predominant conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic from 1983-91, normal song director of Cologne, Germany, from 1989-2002, predominant conductor of the Paris Opéra from 1995-2005 and predominant conductor of the RAI Nationwide Symphony Orchestra in Italy from 2016-20. He additionally was once song director of the Cincinnati Would possibly Competition from 1979-2016 and the Ravinia Competition, summer season house of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, from 2005-15.

In LA, Conlon introduced a Recovered Voices undertaking in order consideration to works of composers suppressed through Nazi Germany, together with Alexander Zemlinsky’s “Eine Florentinische Tragödie (A Florentine Tragedy)” and “Der Zwerg (The Dwarf),” Viktor Ullmann’s “Der Zerbrochene Krug (The Broken Jug),” Walter Braunfels’ “Die Vögel (The Birds),” Franz Schreker’s “Die Gezeichneten (The Stigmatized).” He plans to proceed with the undertaking in LA and in different places.

“Recovered Voices is a part of my life that goes beyond Los Angeles Opera and will continue, and you can be sure you’ll see more of that in the future,” Conlon stated. “I will never live to see the end of that mission. It takes time. And it is an example of how easy it is for humanity to destroy and how difficult it is to rebuild.”

Conlon performed the corporate’s first manufacturing of Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen,” an entire cycle in 2010 staged through Achim Freyer, and likewise led “L’amant anonyme (The Anonymous Lover)” through Joseph Bologne, a Twilight composer from 18th-century France. This season comprises “Highway 1, USA” through William Serve Nonetheless, a Twilight American composer who confronted prejudice.

Koelsch will appoint a seek committee that incorporates musicians and hopes to have a successor get started in 2026-27.

“There’s so many extraordinarily exciting conductors that are emerging,” he stated, “Involving musicians in that process, I think that’s important that they have a voice in the selection of their new leader.”



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