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05.05.2015

Neil Shicoff to head Mikhailovsky Theatre Opera Company

Neil Shicoff, the outstanding American tenor of Russian descent, will take up post as Director of the Mikhailovsky Theatre Opera in September 2015. The decision was announced yesterday in Vienna where, on 3 May, Neil Shicoff gave a gala concert at the Wiener Staatsoper to mark his 40 years in the business. His contract will run for three years. Neil will represent the theatre in the international musical community and develop links with the world’s leading opera houses, negotiating joint productions and other forms of artistic collaboration.

Neil Shicoff : “For the past 5 years, I have had a very close professional relationship with the Mikhailovsky Theatre. From the beginning, I felt like I was surrounded by a circle of friends, and over the years, I have followed the progress of this wonderful opera company and am very proud to be included in its continued growth! I am optimistic and hopeful that as Chief of the Opera of the Mikhailovsky Theatre, I will be able to make further advancements in the areas of enlarging the opera repertoire, helping the soloists of the Mikhailovsky with their international careers, further present the Mikhailovsky into the international music world, develop new connections and co-productions with the leading opera houses of the world and find new young talented singers to bring to the theatre! Two days ago, I was honored at the Vienna State Opera with a Gala performance celebrating my 40 years onstage. My many years of collaboration with the Vienna State Opera and continued cooperation with the house in the capacity of an honorary lifetime member will certainly provide a good opportunity to bring the two cities, St. Petersburg and Vienna, closer to one another. Both are so important in the history of music and art, and I believe more should be done to facilitate the flow of talents and ideas between these two great cities. I am very much looking forward to getting started!”

Vladimir Kekhman, Artistic Director of the Mikhailovsky Theatre: “Our theatre is open to the best in the music world, and Neil Shicoff’s arrival as Opera Director underlines our strategy. I am sure that this legendary intellectual, with his vast experience and artistic authority, will guarantee the theatre one of the most powerful positions in the music world. And our soloists will acquire an outstanding teacher who can convey to them all the nuances of the profession.”

Neil Shicoff was born in New York in 1949. He studied singing with his father, the cantor Sidney Shicoff, and at the Juilliard School of Music. He first came to the world’s notice in 1975 when conductor James Levine invited him to appear at the Metropolitan Opera. Over the course of his career, Shicoff has worked with leading opera houses, including the Paris Opera, Covent Garden, La Scala and the Bavarian State Opera. In 1979, he made his debut at the Wiener Staatsoper, where he is still a soloist. His repertoire includes the leading tenor roles of José in Carmen, Alfredo in La traviata, Hoffmann in The Tales of Hoffmann, Lensky in Eugene Onegin and Eléazar in La Juive. Critics often call him “the Al Pacino of the opera”. Neil Shicoff has been performing at the Mikhailovsky Theatre since 2010. He has appeared as Eléazar in La Juive, Herman in The Queen of Spades, Captain Vere in Billy Budd and Canio in Pagliacci. He was awarded a Golden Mask for his performance as Eléazar. He regularly holds master classes for the theatre’s young soloists.

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