A new residency scheme for women conductors has been launched by Opera North, in the assumption that talented female conductors are less likely to find a way into opera than their male counterparts. Quite why this is, is yet to be determined, but the residency will certainly help aid the situation.
The residency will be given to female conductors who have great potential in the industry. The residency will include observing opera rehearsals as well as being mentored by music staff and guest conductors. The idea is that Opera North will build an on-going relationship with each participant after the initial ten week residency.
The first participant is French conductor, Sonia Ben-Santamaria. Sonia was a young trainee repetiteur at the English National Opera and the National Opera Studio, London after graduating from the Royal Academy of Music and the Conservatoire National de Toulouse, France. She makes her UK opera conducting debut at Opera Holland Park this June, with two performances of Un ballo in maschera.
Enabled by the Harewood Young Artists Fund, the scheme will launch in the 2019-2020 season, which includes productions of core operatic repertoire such as La bohème and The Marriage of Figaro, alongside lesser known works including Martinů’s The Greek Passion.
Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North, said: “Conducting is a key area within the classical music industry which historically has been dominated by men. We hope that this residency opportunity can help to address the gender imbalance in conducting by encouraging more female musicians to see opera as a viable career path, and to ensure that Opera North and the wider opera industry is drawing on the widest range of professional conducting talent now and in the future. We look forward greatly to welcoming Sonia Ben-Santamaria into the Company as our first Associate Assistant Conductor.
“We have been delighted in recent months to work with some of the most talented women conductors currently working in the industry, including Jessica Cottis and Sian Edwards, who returns to Opera North this Autumn to conduct Bluebeard’s Castle in concert. Following Dalia Stasevska’s UK debut as part of the Orchestra of Opera North’s concert season in 2018 and her return earlier this year, we are also delighted to bring another young conductor to the UK for the first time, as Ruth Reinhardt opens our 2019-20 concert season with a programme of Webern, Schubert and Beethoven.”
Visit Opera North’s website for further information/