French-Armenian conductor Alain Altinoglu to debut at the Met next winter

by Madlen E. Setian and Levon M. Capan

Published: Thursday July 02, 2009

Altinoglu at the podium. Luc Jennepin

Altinoglu drawing out the violin section . Marc Ginot

New York - Accomplished orchestral conductor Alain Altinoglu (Altounian), who has conducted almost every top orchestra in France and many others throughout the world, has been invited to conduct the Metropolitan Opera House orchestra during the 2010 Winter/Spring season. Tickets go on sale next month.

Mr. Altinoglu's Metropolitan Opera debut will take place on January 27, 2010, in a performance of Georges Bizet's "Carmen." He will be conducting a total of eight performances from January to May 2010. This is a truly spectacular achievement for a rising musician whose talent and genius have already brought him substantial acclaim.

The Metropolitan Opera is well known as an institution that is highly selective in its choice of performers and invites, by tradition, only accomplished musicians.  For Mr. Altinoglu to enjoy such a privilege at a very young age is indeed an important occasion, which must be a great source of pride for him as well as for all Armenians.

An Armenian whose parents are originally from Istanbul, Mr. Altinoglu was born in Paris, where he received his musical training at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris. After completing his studies, he joined the faculty of the same conservatory, where he taught music for nearly ten years, notably in the vocal class section.

The brilliance of his technique has garnered numerous invitations to conduct prestigious orchestras throughout the world. Some of the orchestras Mr. Altinoglu has conducted include Orchestre National de France, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Staatskapelle Berlin, Sinfonia Varsovia, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Orchestre National d'Ile-de-France, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, Orchestre National de Montpellier, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Orchestre National de Lyon, Ensemble Intercontemporain, and Lille National Orchestra.

Mr. Altinoglu has also made successful appearances in many opera houses and "théâtres lyriques," including Opéra de Paris, Théâtre du Châtelet, San Francisco Opera, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, Opéra National de Bordeaux, Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, Salzburg Festival, Teatro Colón of Buenos Aires, and Staatsoper Berlin.

In addition, Mr. Altinoglu is a distinguished pianist and has an extensive repertoire in this area. A recital collaborator who is attracted by lieder and art songs, he has worked for many years with mezzo-soprano Nora Gubisch, forming a duet and appearing in many concerts together. (A lied, plural "lieder," is a musical setting for solo voice and piano of a romantic or lyrical poem.)

Possessing a rich symphonic repertoire has been a factor enabling Mr. Altinoglu to conduct numerous internationally known musical pieces. He is quite familiar with the entire Duparc melody repertoire.  His numerous recordings include the following works on the NAÏVE music label: Tanguy's 1st and 2nd cello concertos with the Orchestre National de France; Tansman works with the Orchestre Philarmonique de Radio-France; Pascal Dusapin works with the Orchestre National de Montpellier; and Gorecki's Symphony Number 3 with the Warsaw Symphony. In addition, he appeared in the DVD, "Jeanne d'Arc au Bucher" by Honneger with the Radio-France Montpellier Festival.

Regarding the Tanguy recording, critic William Lockhart writes, "Alain Altingolu and the Orchestre National de France joyfully paint Tanguy's canvas with the requisite light, dark and color. Their rhythmic impetus is tremendously important with the first concerto – generally a more driven and rhythmically dynamic work than the second and their closing bacchanal is particularly thrilling. Altinoglu clearly understands that the key relationship under question is between the soloist and the ensemble and he allows their free interchange in a stimulating and flexible environment." (; Nov. 2007)

Mr. Altinoglu's completed opera-conducting projects include: "Orphée aux Enfers" at the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence; "Salome" with Opéra de Paris; "Faust" with Staatsoper Berlin; "Erwartung" and "La Voix Humaine" with Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse; "Mireille" with Chorégies d'Orange Festival; "The Magic Flute" with the Munich Opera; "Carmen" with the Chicago Opera; "Romeo & Juliet" and "Falstaff" with Staatsoper of Vienna, and the world premiere of the opera "Fiesque" by Lalo at the Montpellier Festival.

This past April, opera critic Michael Milenski of the "Seen And Heard" International Opera Review wrote, "Mo. Altinoglu, Montpellier's principal guest conductor, painted Bartok's surreal world with infinite colors, working with his singers to create an essential metaphysical world, in fact a musical world... each movement, no matter how minimal, a finger lifted for example, a hand held out to accept an imaginary key, was carefully choreographed..." referring to the new production by Jean-Paul Scarpitta of Bartok's "Bluebeard's Castle" at the Opéra National de Montpellier where Mr. Altinoglu performed as principal guest conductor.

What an opportunity and source of pride for the Armenian community in the New York area to see, hear, and enjoy the work of such a gifted Armenian artist in one of the premier opera houses of the world. Certainly, this is an impressive résumé and a marvelous occasion to enjoy the performance of a fellow Armenian!

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The Cafesjian Foundation has taken a difficult decision to close The Armenian Reporter. We regret that we are forced to take this decision after more than eight years of publishing. We thank our readers and all individuals who have contributed to the Reporter. Kathleen Cafesjian Baradaran Chair, Cafesjian Family Foundation

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