Tuesday, November 7, 2006

The Pittsburgh Opera has appointed Antony Walker, current artistic director of the Washington Concert Opera, as its artistic director as well. Mr. Walker’s appointment is scheduled to begin immediately. He plans to retain his current post with the Washington Concert Opera, much to the relief of opera aficionados here.

Mark Weinstein, general director of the Pittsburgh Opera, who will work closely with Mr. Walker, announced that he is “thrilled” to have Mr. Walker as a new member of the team.

A native of Australia, Mr. Walker, who resides in Washington, debuted as a conductor in 1991. Since then, he has conducted numerous operatic and choral works in Europe, Australia and the U.S. as well as recording 26 CDs and DVDs.

Mr. Walker will be conducting Mozart’s “Die Zauberflote” (“The Magic Flute”) and Benjamin Britten’s “Billy Budd” — the same production that thrilled Washington National Opera audiences at the Kennedy Center — this spring in Pittsburgh. He is particularly excited to be doing “Billy Budd.”

“It is an opera that truly deserves to be seen,” he says.

One of the reasons Mr. Walker accepted the Pittsburgh assignment is because the company was drawn to his range of repertoire. “I might like to try a few baroque operas there,” he says, noting his success in Washington with works whose exquisite charms WCO audiences are discovering, often for the first time.

Mr. Walker does not plan to neglect the Washington Concert Opera, where he has been instrumental in bringing the company back from the brink of fiscal death a few seasons back, in large part because of his realistic scheduling and excellent track record of bringing superb singers and instrumentalists to the nation’s capital. Advances here include last week’s performance of Handel’s “Orlando,” for which the orchestra played many period instruments. “This is the first time we’ve done it. The players are fantastic and understand what I’ve been looking for,” Mr. Walker says.

—T.L. Ponick

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