November 10, 2015
Stephen Lord Will Take on New Role After 25 Seasons as Music Director at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

OTSL general director Timothy O’Leary has announced that Stephen Lord will become Music Director Emeritus after the 2017 season, which will mark his 25th anniversary as OTSL’s Music Director. Continuing a strong connection to the company, he will become Music Director Emeritus as well as Artistic Director for Young Artist Programs, continuing to oversee the selection and mentoring of singers in OTSL’s two celebrated programs for rising soloists, the Gerdine Young Artist Program and the Richard Gaddes Festival Artist Program. Maestro Lord will also continue to conduct main season productions for Opera Theatre as regularly as his schedule allows, and will return each season to give master classes and to conduct the company’s annual Center Stage concert, in which Gerdine Young Artists and Gaddes Festival Artists perform excerpts from the operatic repertory in a concert accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony.

Known for his remarkable track record of spotting and nurturing young singing talent, Maestro Lord was named by Opera News magazine in 2006 as one of the “25 Most Powerful Names in U.S. Opera” (one of only four conductors on that list). Now an internationally regarded conductor, he first joined Opera Theatre as Head of Music Staff in 1980; he was named Artistic Advisor to the General Director in 1983 and Music Director in 1991.  After making his conducting debut with OTSL in 1986, his career led him to conducting engagements at leading opera houses around the world, including the Canadian Opera Company, English National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Washington National Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, New York City Opera, Seoul Arts Centre, L'Opéra de Montréal, and many others. He returns to the English National Opera in February 2016 to lead its Christopher Alden production of Norma with Marjorie Owens, and will later conduct another Norma production with Sondra Radvanovsky and Russell Thomas (a former OTSL Gerdine Young Artist) for the Canadian Opera Company in October 2016.

Maestro Lord’s career has also included serving as Music Director and later Artistic Director for the Boston Lyric Opera, as well as serving for five years as Artistic Advisor for Opera at the New England Conservatory and conducting five operas and heading the young artist program for the Canadian Opera Company.

“It is impossible to describe Stephen’s impact on Opera Theatre,” says general director Timothy O’Leary. “His artistry, vision, wisdom, humanity, and deep passion for this art form have helped shape OTSL into the company we are today. He is devoted to supporting the careers and nurturing the craft of artists in each new generation. His impact on the lives and accomplishments of hundreds of singers is inestimable, including many of the most celebrated artists on the stage today. Giving him the title ‘Emeritus’ is a small way of honoring him as a dear friend and colleague for us all.”

James Robinson, OTSL’s artistic director, said of Maestro Lord, “Not only has it been a great privilege and pleasure to call Stephen one of my closest friends and colleagues, but I also have to thank him for helping to bring me into the St. Louis family early in my career.”

“Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has been my artistic home for more than thirty-five years,” Maestro Lord says, “and I am immensely proud of all we have accomplished as a team — as it is a team effort. Conducting there and being part of a healthy and vibrant arts organization — along with close personal ties to staff, community, and the St. Louis Symphony — have brought me to a place where I will be delighted to see another eager person like me have the opportunity to grow along with this justly celebrated and secure institution. I look forward to many more collaborations with Opera Theatre, finding and nurturing young talent along with being a guest conductor in my ‘home,’ and discovering exciting possibilities for being a guest elsewhere as well.”

Maestro Lord made his conducting debut with OTSL’s 1986 production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers at Washington University’s Edison Theater, and has since led significant OTSL productions including La rondine (2015), Sweeney Todd (2012), Pelléas and Mélisande (2011), A Little Night Music (2010), Salome (2009), I puritani (2007), Street Scene (2006), Lucia di Lammermoor (2002), Káťa Kabanová (1998), and Candide (1994).

Maestro Lord has worked with many Opera Theatre young artists who have gone on to significant careers, including Lawrence Brownlee, Morris Robinson, Corinne Winters, Jamie Barton, Patricia Racette, Sheri Greenawald, Paul Groves, Nathan Gunn, Ailyn Pérez, and Anthony Griffey. Other notable engagements on behalf of OTSL include bringing Donald Palumbo into the company for ten seasons as chorus master, as well as engaging conductors Robert Spano and Emmanuel Villaume early in their careers. As Anne Midgette wrote in the Washington Post, the “strategy in St. Louis is to cultivate new talent — something at which Stephen Lord…is particularly adept.”

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