Equally at home in the opera house as she is on the concert stage, conductor Karen Kamensek’s repertoire spans from iconic staples of the classical canon to compositions by the masters of today to evocative crossover works. She has conducted orchestras and opera productions around the globe, with many of today’s leading artists and ensembles.
The 2017-18 season clearly demonstrates Ms. Kamensek’s remarkable versatility and expansive artistry. Making debuts in several major opera houses throughout Europe, her repertoire includes works by Philip Glass, Victoria Borisova-Ollas, Camille Pépin, Verdi, Bizet as well as new productions and world premieres.
Ms. Kamensek begins her season with her debut at the BBC Proms in Royal Albert Hall leading the Britten Sinfonia and master sitar player, Anoushka Shankar, in the first live performance of Philip Glass’ and Ravi Shankar’s collaboration “Passages.” Next she makes her debut with the Royal Swedish Opera in the world premiere of Victoria Borisova-Ollas’ Dracula with stage direction by Linus Fellbom. She begins the new year with a debut with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra with music by Suppé, Waldteufel, Johann Strauss, and Lehár. In February, she returns to the English National Opera following her critically-acclaimed debut in Glass’ Ahknaten to lead the company in the composers’ Satyagraha. Later in the season she returns to Sweden at the Malmö Opera in a new production of Verdi’s Rigoletto under the stage direction of Kasper Holten. From Sweden, she will travel to France to lead the orchestra of Opera de Toulon in a performance of Camille Pépin’s Vajrayana for Orchestra as well as
Dvorák Symphony No. 8 and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 1, with pianist Lise de la Salle. Ms. Kamensek finishes out her season with one final debut, when she leads the Israeli Opera in the iconic Franco Zefirelli production of Bizet’s Carmen.
Ms. Kamensek’s 2016-17 season debuts included the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de Pays Loire, Göteborg Symphony Orchestra, Aalborg Symfoniorkester, Malmö Opera och Musikteater, Philharmonisches Orchester Hagen, Saarländisches Staatsorchester Saarbrücken, and Orchestre National de Lille. With the Göteborg Opera she conducted a new company production, based on David McVicar’s spectacular 2002 Glyndebourne production of Bizet’s Carmen. In Spain, she made her guest conducting debut with the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra in a program which included Puccini’s Messa di Gloria. Her debut with the Orchestre National de Pays Loire included four New Year’s concerts, which have become her signature, that highlighted the works of Dvořák, Offenbach, and Lumbye as well as Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, with cellist Tanja Tetzlaff. She made her debut with the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra leading the ensemble in a special presentation of the 1921 Swedish film Körkarlen. This evocative silent film is considered to be one of the central works in the history of Swedish cinema and was brought to life through a new score written by composer Mats Larsson Gothe and was in collaboration with the Göteborg Film Festival.
Ms. Kamensek served as the Music Director of the Staatsoper Hannover from 2011 to 2016. During her tenure as Music Director and Chief Conductor she led the ensemble in several new critically- acclaimed productions, including Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth von Mtsensk, Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Puccini’s Il trittico, Bernstein’s Candide, Glanert’s Caligula, Janáček’s Jenůfa, and Weber’s Der Freischütz. She also led the Niedersächsisches Staatsorchester Hannover in 12 concerts throughout 2015-16 which featured the music of Mahler, Strauss, Dvořák, and Martinů, with such guest artists as Nemanja Radulovic and an electrifying season-ending artistic collaboration with the “Jimi Hendrix” and master of the Galician bagpipes and a cult figure on the world music scene, Carlos Núñez.
Ms. Kamensek has also served as the 1st Kapellmeister at the Volksoper Wien (2000 to 2002), Music Director of the Theater Freiburg (2003 to 2006), Interim Music Director at the Slovenian National Theatre in Maribor (2007 to 2008), and Associate Music Director at Staatsoper Hamburg (2008 to 2011).
On the concert stage, Ms. Kamensek has appeared as a guest conductor with many notable orchestras worldwide, including the Bruckner Orchester Linz, Dortmund Philharmoniker, Duisburger Philharmoniker, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in Kuala Lumpur, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Odense Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, Orchestre National de Montpellier, Orchestra of the MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig, Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille, ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien, Phillharmoniker Hamburger, Real Filharmonía de Galicia, San Antonio Symphony, Sinfonieorchester Basel, Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra Ljubljana, the Symphony Silicon Valley and the Tivoli Symfoniorkester.
Frequently in demand as a guest conductor with many of today’s most prominent opera companies Ms. Kamensek has led productions at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, English National Opera, Frankfurt Opera, Opera Australia (Melbourne), Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen, San Diego Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Volksoper Wien, among many others. Major highlights include her recent debut with the English National Opera in Glass’ Akhnaten with counter tenor Anthony Roth Costanzo under the direction of Phelim McDermott; her debut with the San Francisco Opera conducting a new production of Floyd’s Susannah with soprano Patricia Racette; Britten’s Death in Venice; Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande; Lehár’s The Merry Widow; Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci; Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana; Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov; Puccini’s Tosca; Verdi’s Otello; and Wagner’s Lohengrin, among others.
Ms. Kamensek has collaborated with singers, directors, and instrumentalists from across the globe. She has worked with many renowned singers, including Johan Botha, Joseph Calleja, Michèle Crider, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Andrzej Dobber, Elza van den Heever, Brandon Jovanovich, Lise Lindstrom, Ambrogio Maestri, Thomas Johannes Mayer, Patricia Racette, Stuart Skelton and Klaus Florian Vogt. She has partnered with such groundbreaking directors as Guy Joosten, Harry Kupfer, Uwe Eric Laufenberg, Phelim McDermott, and Olivier Tambosi. She has led performances featuring critically acclaimed instrumentalists such as Michael Barenboim, David Aaron Carpenter, Gautier Capuçon, Renaud Capuçon, Lynn Harrell, Louis Lortie, Olli Mustonen, and Benjamin Schmid.
Outside of the concert halls and opera houses, Ms. Kamensek can be heard on the recording of Glass’ Les Enfants Terribles, which was released on the Orange Mountain Music label in 2005. She has been featured in several books, including Hier Spielt die Musik!: Tonangebende Frauen in der Klassikszene by Brigitte Beier and Karina Schmidt, which was published in 2014. Holding a strong belief in contributing to the growth of the next generation of musicians, Ms. Kamensek has led such youth orchestras as the Hochschulorchester of the Bruckner University Linz, Hochschulorchester Köln, the Innviertler Symphonie Orchester, and Orchesterzentrum NRW Dortmund, and the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria.
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