Chicago Opera Theater Music Director Steps Down

By Francisco Salazar

The Board of Directors of Chicago Opera Theater has announced that Lidiya Yankovskaya will step down from her position as Morse and Genius Music Director at the end of the company’s 2023-24 50th Anniversary season.

Yankovskaya will continue to lead Chicago Opera Theater’s Vanguard Initiative, the immersive training and residency program for first-time opera composers which she created for the company in 2018.

In a statement, the conductor said, “It was a privilege to be part of steering Chicago Opera Theater through this pivotal time for both the company and the industry at large. I am very proud that we have deepened COT’s commitment to opera as a living art form by introducing more than 25 works to Chicago audiences for the first time, including nearly a dozen world premieres, while continually reaching new artistic heights. I have known new General Director Larry Edelson for many years, and am certain that his deep industry knowledge, artistic vision, and commitment to new repertoire will ensure continued excellence and forward momentum for the company. I’m eager to see the future he will help create, along with our incredible audiences, artists, board, and staff.”

Chicago Opera Theater Edlis Neeson General Director Lawrence Edelson said, “I have had the opportunity to collaborate with Lidiya for almost ten years and she is – without a doubt – one of the most exciting conductors working today. The passion she brings to the podium is contagious and her musical gifts are without question, so it should come as no surprise that she has become in great demand around the globe. Her recent debuts at Santa Fe Opera, Houston Grand Opera, English National Opera, and Staatsoper Hamburg point to an increasingly dynamic career of musical leadership internationally. We are excited to see her continue to enrich the operatic landscape, and are exploring opportunities to welcome her back as a guest conductor in future seasons. At the same time, we are thrilled that Lidiya is continuing to make time to remain at the helm of the Vanguard Initiative, as she is such an extraordinary mentor for emerging opera composers, and propelling forward new and emerging operatic writers will continue to figure centrally in the mission of Chicago Opera Theater.”

Throughout her tenure, Yankovskaya has spearheaded the commissioning and development of 11 new one-act and full-length operas and has advanced women composers and creators of color.

In lieu of immediately hiring a new Music Director, next season, Chicago Opera Theater will create a new Head of Music position to provide musical oversight for the company’s performance season as well as to enrich the training available for emerging singers in COT’s Young Artist Program. COT will also take this opportunity to work with a number of guest conductors as the company continues to produce a diverse repertoire.