Conductor Michael Christie
Continues as Music Director of Minnesota Opera
By: MO - 09/19/2013
2013-2014 Productions Led by Michael Christie:
Puccini’s Manon Lescaut – Sept. 21-29, 2013
Strauss’ Arabella – Nov. 9-17, 2013
Verdi’s Macbeth – Jan. 25-Feb. 1, 2014
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
345 Washington St. | St. Paul, MN
“If Michael Christie represents the future of music in this country, the future looks promising indeed.” – Cincinnati Enquirer
Conductor Michael Christie continues as Music Director of Minnesota Opera, a post he began in fall 2012, leading three productions during the 2013-2014 season. Christie conducts Puccini’s Manon Lescaut from September 21-20, 2013, Richard Strauss’ Arabella from November 9-17, 2013, and Verdi’s Macbeth from January 25-February 1, 2014 at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts (345 Washington Street).
Of returning for Minnesota Opera’s 2013-2014 season, Christie says, “I am enthralled with the continuing evolution of Minnesota Opera. Each production we have coming this season and into the future is an exciting manifestation of a company that is growing and making its dreams come alive.”
Minnesota Opera’s production of Manon Lescaut stars Kelly Kaduce in the title role, with tenor Dinyar Vania as her star-crossed lover, Chevalier des Grieux. Richard Strauss’ Arabella features soprano Jacquelyn Wagner in a co-production with Santa Fe Opera and Canadian Opera Company by scenic and costume designer Tobias Hoheisel. Verdi’s adaptation of Shakespearian thriller Macbeth stars bass-baritone Greer Grimsley as the ambitious and sinister King of Scotland, with soprano Brenda Harris as Lady Macbeth.
This summer, Michael Christie completed his final season as Music Director of the Colorado Music Festival, a post he has held since 2000, and earlier this summer led the world premiere performances of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, commissioned and produced by San Francisco Opera. The San Francisco Chronicle praised his performance, stating, “In the pit, debuting conductor Michael Christie led a rapturous, long-breathed performance,” while The New York Times reported, “The conductor Michael Christie draws plush colorings and shimmering sounds from the orchestra.” The Los Angeles Times wrote, “Michael Christie conducts with conviction.” In June 2014, Christie will lead the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s opera Twenty-Seven, starring Stephanie Blythe as Gertrude Stein, at Opera Theatre of St. Louis.
Michael Christie is a thoughtfully innovative conductor, equally at home in the symphonic and opera worlds, who is focused on making the audience experience at his performances entertaining, enlightening, and enriching. The New York Times reports, “Michael Christie is a director open to adventure and challenge,” and the Cincinnati Enquirer declares, “If Michael Christie represents the future of music in this country, the future looks promising indeed.”
Christie, who was featured in Opera News in August 2012 as one of 25 people believed to “to break out and become major forces in the field in the coming decade,” began his tenure as the first-ever Music Director of the Minnesota Opera with the 2012-13 season. His 16-year symphonic conducting career has included serving as Music Director of the Phoenix Symphony (2005-2013) and Brooklyn Philharmonic (2005-2010), and as Chief Conductor of the Queensland Orchestra (2001-2004) in Australia, as well as guest appearances leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, the Symphonies of Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta, Houston, Minnesota, Oregon, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati. His New York Philharmonic debut came in March 2007 when he stepped in on short notice for an ailing Riccardo Muti.
Christie also served as the Music Director of the Colorado Music Festival from 2000 to 2013, where he was highly praised for his innovative programming and where audiences are now at an all time high, resulting in him being named “Musician of the Year” by The Denver Post in 2010.
Over the course of his career, Christie has embarked on a series of intriguing and ambitious projects focused on growing and nurturing audiences. These include his Intermission Insights, designed to offer compelling engagement with the audience during one of the most fertile and underutilized moments during the concert, the intermission; Clef Notes, a short “real time” guide to a concert as it is being performed; Click! The Community Commissioning Club, a program in which audiences can vote on composers to be commissioned. In addition, Christie has developed initiatives around introducing audience members to music outside the standard repertoire – from Baroque to contemporary – as well as interdisciplinary collaborations with visual artists, dance companies, and theater groups, and contemporary composers such as Gorecki, Ligeti, Adams, Golijov, and Tan Dun.
Christie is also committed to bringing new works to life. During his tenure with the Phoenix Symphony, he premiered works by 16 living composers, and has championed commissions by leading and emerging composers alike, including Osvaldo Golijov, Matthew Hindson, Marjan Mozetich, Stephen Paulus, Michael Daugherty, Mason Bates, Mark Grey, and more.
During the 2012-13 season, as Minnesota Opera’s Music Director, Christie helmed productions of Verdi’s Nabucco, Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, and Puccini’s Turandot. In 2011, also with the Minnesota Opera, he led the world premiere performances of Kevin Puts’ Silent Night, which was awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Anthony Tommasini praised his “supple pacing and vitality” in The New York Times, when Christie led the work in 2013 with Opera Company of Philadelphia.
In addition to his engagements with Minnesota Opera, Christie’s upcoming 2013-14 season highlights include the world premiere of Twenty-Seven, a new opera by Ricky Ian Gordon commissioned by Opera Theatre of St. Louis starring Stephanie Blythe as Gertrude Stein; the world premiere of a new work by Matthew Hindson with the Phoenix Symphony; and leading the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall as part of Spring for Music in 2014.
Notable past engagements include highly praised productions of Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles and John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer, and the North American premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland, all with Opera Theatre of St. Louis; the European premiere of The Ghosts of Versailles at the Wexford Festival Opera; Minnesota Opera performances of Verdi’s La traviata, Bernard Herrmann’s Wuthering Heights, Puccini’s Madame Butterfly; as well as various performances at Opernhaus Zürich and Finnish National Opera.
Christie’s many European engagements have included leading the Rotterdam Philharmonic, DSO Berlin, Orchestre National de Lille, Swedish and Netherlands Radio Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony, NDR Hannover Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic. In addition, Christie enjoys a strong profile in Australia, where he has conducted the Sydney Symphony, Tasmanian Symphony, Opera Queensland, and the Western Australian Symphony in Perth.
Michael Christie first came to international attention in 1995 when he was awarded a special prize for “Outstanding Potential” at the First International Sibelius Conductors’ Competition in Helsinki. Following the competition, he was invited to become an apprentice conductor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra where he subsequently worked with Daniel Barenboim as well as at the Berlin State Opera during the 1996-1997 season. Christie graduated from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music with a bachelor's degree in trumpet performance.
A licensed pilot, Michael Christie is a self-described “aviation nut,” and flies a Mooney single-engine aircraft, often between engagements and rehearsals. He is married to Alexis, a physician, and their daughter Sinclair was born in 2008.