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James Conlon Steps Down From LA Opera

By Sara Schabas on March 18, 2024

James Conlon posing in concert hall
James Conlon (Photo: Robert Millard)

The conductor, James Conlon, announced his plans to step down as leader of the LA Opera following the 2025-2026 season. Conlon will step down the same year the company celebrates its 40th anniversary season, meaning he has led the company for half its history.

The backstory: The Queens-born conductor is the LA Opera’s second-ever music director. He has led the company in more than 460 performances including the company’s first Ring cycle and premieres of works by Joseph Bologne and by composers persecuted by the Third Reich.

The classical music scene in Los Angeles is in a moment of flux. Conlon will step down from LA Opera shortly following general director Plácido Domingo’s 2019 departure due to sexual harassment allegations. In 2026, Gustavo Dudamel will also leave the LA Philharmonic to take up a new post as leader of the New York Philharmonic.

What’s next: Christopher Koelsch, LA Opera’s president and chief executive, noted that the company will look for someone with a similarly contemporary vision to take up the reins from Conlon. But, Conlon won’t be too far away. The conductor will be given the position of conductor laureate in hopes that he will frequently return to conduct productions with the company.

Sara Schabas
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