Chief-Conductor

Emmanuel Villaume / music director and chief conductor

French-born conductor Emmanuel Villaume has led captivating performances with the most prominent opera companies and symphony orchestras around the world. Currently in his third season as Music Director of The Dallas Opera, Maestro Villaume leads the company's 2015-16 season in performances of Tosca, Show Boat, and the world premiere of Mark Adamo's Becoming Santa Claus. Guest engagements in the US this season include Roméo et Juliette at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as well as his return to Santa Fe Opera in the summer of 2016. Following his triumph in Manon at London's Royal Opera House in 2014, Villaume returns to Covent Garden for performances of Tosca. Manon was also the vehicle of Villaume's return to the Metropolitan Opera in January 2015, about which the New York Times proclaimed, "It is the most vivid, exciting take on Manon at the Met in many years, and sets the bar high, early on, for the company’s spring season.”

In September 2015 Mo. Villaume begins his tenure as Music Director and Chief Conductor of the PKF - Prague Philharmonia. Recent projects with the PKF include a Deutsche Grammophon recording with Anna Netrebko, a Warner Classics release with Bryan Hymel, and a special New Year's celebration concert at the Royal Opera House Muscat. His orchestral performances in the 2014-15 season included at New York's Avery Fisher Hall for the 2014 Richard Tucker Gala and at Alice Tully Hall for concerts with the Juilliard Orchestra, the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, the White Nights Festival at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, and a European concert tour of Iolanta with performances in Lucerne, Copenhagen, Monte Carlo, and London's Royal Albert Hall featuring soprano Anna Netrebko. Villaume returns to the Royal Opera House Muscat in December 2015 for a concert with the PKF and guest soprano Sondra Radvanovsky.

A frequent collaborator with major opera houses in the United States, Maestro Villaume has performed with the Metropolitan Opera for Madama Butterfly, Samson et Dalila, and Carmen; Lyric Opera of Chicago for La Bohème, Manon, The Merry Widow and Samson et Dalila; and the Washington National Opera for La Rodine, Norma, Le Cid, and Les Contes d’Hoffmann. He has conducted Madama Butterfly and Werther with the San Francisco Opera; Les Contes d’Hoffmann, La Rondine, and La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein with the Los Angeles Opera; La Rodine and Faust with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis; and Les Pêcheurs de Perles and The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein with Santa Fe Opera. At the Dallas Opera, Mo. Villaume has conducted highly acclaimed performances of Faust, Le Nozze di Figaro, Carmen, and Iolanta. His participation in music festivals is equally exemplary, highlighted by numerous performances with the prestigious Spoleto Festival USA, where he served as Music Director from 2001 to 2010.

On the european stage, Maestro Villaume has appeared with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden for Manon, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, and La Rondine; Montreal Opera for La Vie Parisienne; Tokyo Bunka Kaikan for Der Rosenkavalier; Teatro Colón for Pelléas et Mélisande; and Bastille Opera for Rigoletto. Other performances in France include: Théâtre du Capitole Toulouse for Mignon; Opéra de Nice for Faust; and Opéra Marseilles for Pelléas et Mélisande, Samson et Dalila, Carmen, and Norma. Maestro Villaume has conducted for several opera companies in Germany, including the Bayerische Staatsoper for Les Contes d’Hoffmann; Deutsche Oper Berlin for Tosca; Hamburg Staatsoper for Der Fliegende Holländer; Bonn Opera for La Fanciulla del West; and Cologne Opera for La Bohème and Werther. Other lauded performances in Europe took place at Teatro La Fenice for Thaïs, Il Crociato, and L'Africaine; Teatro Regio di Torino for Ariane et Barbe-bleue and Les Contes d’Hoffmann; Martina Franca Opera for La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein; Teatro Real in Madrid for Les Contes d’Hoffmann and Werther; Opéra de Monte-Carlo for La Périchole and Werther; and the Klangbogen Festival in Vienna for Don Quichotte and Menotti's Goya with Plácido Domingo.

Emmanuel Villaume has led a distinguished career leading renowned symphonies in the U.S. and abroad. He has made an outstanding contribution as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the National Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra and in his ongoing role as Chief Conductor of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra. In North America, he has conducted the Quebec Symphony, the Montreal Symphony in both Montreal and at Carnegie Hall, the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Symphony, and the Julliard Orchestra. He also led the San Francisco Symphony, the Houston Symphony, and the Boston Symphony at both Symphony Hall and the Tanglewood Festival. His performances with music organizations abroad include: the Royal Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Beethovenhalle Orchestra of Bonn, the Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Duisburger Philharmoniker, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Kungliga Filharmonikerna, and the PKF - Prague Philharmonia. In Australia, Mo. Villaume has conducted concerts with the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane orchestras, and in Asia he has appeared with the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo, the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, and the China National Opera Orchestra for the 2008 Olympic Games.

Born in Strasbourg in 1964, Emmanuel Villaume studied music at the Conservatoire de Strasbourg. He continued his education at Khâgne and the Sorbonne in Paris, where he received degrees in literature, philosophy, and musicology. As author of noted articles of musicology, Mo. Villaume was appointed Dramaturg of the Opéra National du Rhin in Strasbourg at the age of 21. He holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Indianapolis. Maestro Villaume makes his home in Paris and Dallas.

Jiří Bělohlávek / conductor / Founder & Music Director Laureate

Jiří Bělohlávek was born in Prague in 1946, and his love of music became apparent at an early age. Bělohlávek studied the cello with Professor Karel Pravoslav Sádlo, before continuing his studies at the Prague Conservatory and at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. It was during these years that Jiří Bělohlávek began conducting in earnest, receiving instruction from Robert Brock, Alois Klíma, Bohumír Liška and Josef Veselka.

In 1968, the legendary Romanian conductor Sergiu Celibidache invited Jiří Bělohlávek to become his assistant. Bělohlávek won the Czech Young Conductors’ Competition in 1970, and reached the final of the Herbert von Karajan Conducting Competition in 1971. It was in 1973 that Bělohlávek began conducting the Czech Philharmonic to great acclaim; the start of his long relationship with the orchestra.

Jiří Bělohlávek was appointed Conductor of the Brno State Philharmonic Orchestra in 1972, a position he held until 1978. He then became Chief Conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, a partnership which lasted until 1989, and Permanent Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic. Václav Neumann, the latter orchestra’s Chief Conductor (between 1968 and 1990) brought him to Berlin’s Komische Oper in 1979, where he debuted with Smetana’s The Secret. Bělohlávek went on to conduct Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress there in 1980.

Jiří Bělohlávek was appointed Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic in 1990. He built upon the orchestra’s already excellent reputation, particularly in its interpretations of Czech music, and became part of a long line of esteemed Czech conductors to direct the orchestra: Václav Talich, Rafael Kubelík, Karel Ančerl and Václav Neumann.

In 1994, Jiří Bělohlávek founded the Prague Philharmonia, whom he directed until 2005, when he became its Conductor Laureate. Jiří Bělohlávek has conducted the world’s major orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, New York Philharmonic, Philadephia Orchestra, Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. In 1994, Jiří Bělohlávek was named Principal Guest Conductor of the Prague National Theatre; then in 1995 he became the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s Guest Conductor, later becoming its Chief Conductor in 2006. In April 2012, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra announced the appointment of Jiří Bělohlávek as its next principal guest conductor, effective with the 2012/13 season.

As Chairman of the Prague Spring International Music Festival, Jiří Bělohlávek consistently champions the music of Czech composers. His special affinity with the music of Bohuslav Martinů has been instrumental in bringing that master to the world’s attention, and Bělohlávek has also taken the more rarely-performed works of Dvořák, Janáček, Smetana and Suk to new audiences.

In May 2012, Bělohlávek was awarded the title Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) 'for services to music' by the Queen Elizabeth II. In the Czech Republic he was awarded the First Grade Medal of Merit for service to the Republic.

In a much-anticipated reunion, Jiří Bělohlávek returns as Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic from 2012. The outstanding musicianship of the Czech Philharmonic under Bělohlávek’s inspiring direction makes this a truly exciting collaboration.

© Joanna Wyld