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Transfer news: Dallas Opera names French chief

The new music director, succeeding Grame Jenkins is Emmanuel Vuillaume, 49, presently head of the Slovene and Slovak national orchestra (yes, you read that right).

He will be known, the press release stipulates, as the Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director in Honor of Graeme Jenkins.


DALLAS, APRIL 30, 2013 – The Dallas Opera is thrilled to announce the appointment of a distinguished new music director—only the third person ever to be named to that position in the 56-year history of the company.

            The official announcement was made by Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny at a morning media event, as he introduced critically acclaimed French-born conductorEmmanuel Villaume.

            “Over the past year, I have actively sought input from a wide variety of sources, both inside and outside Dallas,” explained Mr. Cerny.  “I was delighted to see the intense level of interest in this position from candidates of the highest caliber, many of whom have extraordinarily busy careers conducting at the world’s leading opera houses.” 

“Having carefully weighed all input, spoken with a number of these candidates, and traveled extensively to watch contenders for the position in both rehearsal and performance, I made the decision to appoint French-born conductor Emmanuel Villaume as Music Director of The Dallas Opera.”


            Maestro Emmanuel Villaume has appeared in the world’s most important and prestigious opera houses. These include engagements with the Metropolitan Opera (Madama Butterfly,Samson et Dalila, and Carmen); Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Les contes d’Hoffmann and La rondine); Lyric Opera of Chicago (Samson et Dalila, Manon, and The Merry Widow); Washington’s National Opera (Werther, La rondine, Norma, Le Cid, Les contes d’Hoffmann and Lucia di Lammermoor); San Francisco Opera (Madama Butterfly and Werther); Los Angeles Opera (La rondine and La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein); Santa Fe Opera (Les pêcheurs du perles and Carmen); Opéra de Paris (Rigoletto); Teatro la fenice in Venice (Thaïs and Il crociato); Deutsche Oper Berlin (Tosca); Madrid’s Teatro Real (Les contes d’Hoffmann and Werther); and Debussey’s Pelléas et Mélisande at Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


            “I am honored to be selected as Music Director of the Dallas Opera and to be a part of such a talented artistic community,” said Emmanuel Villaume. “The Winspear Opera House is one of the most beautiful performing arts venues in the world, and I am excited to be working with the superb orchestra and dedicated staff of the Dallas Opera.  I look forward to helping create even more brilliant performances with this impassioned opera company.”


            After opening Dallas Opera’s 2013-2014 Season (“By Love Transformed”), Maestro Villaume returns to Royal Opera House, Covent Garden for performances of Massenet’s Manon and to Venice’s La fenice for performances of L’africaine. Maestro Villaume maintains a busy schedule of symphonic performances including concerts with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and the Slovenian Philharmonic.


            Recent and upcoming highlights of Maestro Villaume’s 2012-2013 operatic season include performances of La bohème with Lyric Opera of Chicago; appearances on the podium of Munich’s Bavarian State Opera in Les contes d’Hoffmann; and a return to Santa Fe Opera in La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein, starring mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, who recently starred in the Dallas Opera’s 25th Anniversary production of Dominick Argento’s The Aspern Papers. 


            In 2012, Maestro Villaume toured throughout Europe in concert performances of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, starring soprano Anna Netrebko, with performances in Berlin, Vienna, Amsterdam, Paris, and several other European capitals of music. He also led Washington National Opera in performances of Werther as well as last summer’s well-received Santa Fe Opera production of Georges Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles (“The Pearl Fishers”).


            Maestro Villaume remains in demand for symphonic engagements around the world, and he has appeared  with the Danish National Orchestra, St. Petersburg Symphony, Spoleto Festival USA, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Stockholm), and the Ruhrtriennale Festival in Northwest Germany.


His schedule includes additional prestigious future engagements not yet announced to the public.

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  1. Villaume was chief conductor at Spoleto Festival USA for a number of years and was very highly regarded.

    • Harry Kessler says:

      And from which festival, his departure was lamented loudly and long. It is no surprise that the Dallas press release barely mentions Spoleto. The Spoleto administration displayed a shocking lack of integrity, as well as its ongoing abandonment of the central jewel of its programming, full-scale opera production of the highest musical quality, not to mention the superb orchestral concerts over which Villaume had presided as he brought what was/is basically a student orchestra to an extraordinary plateau. It is likely the festival will never recover from its decision to drive him out.

  2. I think you mean “the Slovene and Slovak national orchestraS”. According to his website, “Emmanuel Villaume is Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the National Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra as well as Chief Conductor of the National Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra in Bratislava.”

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