With opening night just about a week away, Los Angeles Opera is thinking even further into the future. The company’s musical leadership is both changing and staying the same.
LA Opera will welcome a new resident conductor next season, Lina González-Granados. The Colombian American, who currently serves as the Solti Conducting Apprentice with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, has also held fellowships with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Seattle Symphony. She leads her own group too, Unitas Ensemble, a chamber orchestra championing the music of Latin American composers.
González-Granados will be replacing Grant Gershon, who is stepping down at the end of the 2021–2022 season to focus more energy on his own ensemble, the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Gershon, LA Opera’s chorus director since 2007 and resident conductor since 2012, explained: “For some time … I’ve been aware that there are only so many hours in a day, and I’ve been increasingly busy with both the expanding activities of the Los Angeles Master Chorale and guest conducting projects outside of Los Angeles.”
González-Granados follows Gershon as resident conductor, a position going through 2024-2025 that will have her conducting one mainstage production annually, plus additional performances for the company’s experimental series (Off Grand), online platform (On Now), and community outreach (Connects). Gershon’s other role, as chorus director, will be vacant; LA Opera starts a search for his replacement this month.
In the meantime, the chorus takes center stage in the season-opening production of Verdi’s Il Trovatore. The company will ring in its return to full-scale programming with the “Anvil Chorus,” in performances conducted by James Conlon, Sept. 18 – Oct. 10.
Conlon is the other conducting news from LA Opera; the company’s music director since 2006, he’s extending his contract again, through 2024–2025. And fittingly for this first full season back from the pandemic, Conlon leads two grand operas as bookends — Il Trovatore this month and then more Verdi, Aida, in May and June 2022.