Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Arizona Opera.
Praised as “an opera conductor of the first order” and for his “dramatic and musically authoritative orchestral leadership,” Joel Revzen’s multi-faceted career continues to garner national and international attention. The award-winning maestro currently holds the dual posts of Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Arizona Opera. He wields the baton for three of the five productions each season; during 2008-2009, his sixth with the Company, these will be The Mikado, Don Giovanni and Tosca.
He defines Arizona Opera’s artistic vision through: choosing the repertoire, casting the singers, his dedication to their education and outreach projects, helping to secure financial support; and shaping the Company’s position in the cultural communities of both Tucson and Phoenix. From 2004 through 2007 he held the additional position of General Director, but ultimately relinquished that title in order to allow himself to concentrate more of his time on the Company’s musical matters, as well as to afford himself the opportunity to conduct operatic and symphonic repertoire elsewhere around the world.
Since taking the reins of Arizona Opera, the breadth and depth of his operatic knowledge and attention to every musical detail, as well as the variety in repertoire, have been noted in the ten works he has conducted there to date: Die Zauberflöte, La traviata, Macbeth, Le nozze di Figaro, Susannah, Carmen, Semele, Der fliegende Holländer, Così fan tutte and The Consul. He has also conducted several Galas, including one with Dolora Zajick and a quartet of San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows.
The summer of 2008 was a busy one for the Maestro with a trio of appearances: the first on a musical cruise in the Baltic, as pianist for the cabaret singers Cynthia Rhys and Curt Branom; then he had a renewed association as Master Teacher and Conductor at the Zajick Institute for Young Dramatic Voices in Utah; and finally he made his debut with San Francisco Opera, conducting the Merola Grand Finale Gala at the War Memorial Opera House. Throughout his career he has consistently championed and worked with nascent singers and orchestral musicians alike, taking great delight in nurturing their careers and helping them to hone their craft.
During the 2008-09 season, following the Arizona Opera Mikado, he makes his debut with Florida Grand Opera in Rossini’s La Cenerentola. He travels back to Arizona Opera to conduct both Don Giovanni and Tosca. A first appearance at Italy’s San Remo Festival awaits, followed by twin engagements of The Consul in the States – with Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music and for his return to Chautauqua Opera.
Previously he served as Artistic Director of the Berkshire Opera for a dozen years, during which time he led productions of more than twenty operas, whose styles are as diverse as: the critically acclaimed world premiere of Stephen Paulus’ opera Summer, a sold-out gala performance of Carmen at Tanglewood’s Seiji Ozawa Hall featuring Denyce Graves in the title role, The Rape of Lucretia, La traviata, Semele, The Consul and The Rake’s Progress, among others.
Mr. Revzen maintains an ongoing relationship with the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, where he first appeared over a decade ago at the invitation of its Artistic Director, Valery Gergiev. With this prestigious company he has performed: Le nozze di Figaro, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Parsifal, as well as the first performances of Menotti’s The Consul ever produced in Russia. He has also been on the Metropolitan Opera conducting staff since 1999, where he has been associated with nine operas: Pique Dame, Rusalka, The Merry Widow, Don Giovanni, Der Rosenkavalier, Die Zauberflöte, Cavalleria rusticana/I pagliacci and War and Peace.
Among his other U.S. operatic engagements have been: a production of The Consul under the direction of its composer, Gian Carlo Menotti, to celebrate the work’s 50th anniversary (Washington National Opera); The Turn of the Screw (Minnesota Opera); Madama Butterfly (Hawaii Opera Theatre); and Tosca (Chautauqua Opera). In Europe he has conducted Hänsel und Gretel and Parsifal at the Nationaltheater Mannheim; and Rigoletto for the Norwegian National Opera.
In the symphonic/choral arena he has also made numerous notable appearances. With the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, he has led performances of Die Schöpfung, La damnation de Faust, Roméo et Juliette (Berlioz) and an all-Bernstein Gala at both St. Petersburg’s White Nights Festival and the Mikkeli Festival in Finland. Some of the other esteemed music institutions with which he has been associated are the: Prague Symphony Orchestra; Prague Chamber Orchestra; Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France; the Orchestre National de Lyon; and the Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse. North American ensembles he has led are: the National, Dallas, Seattle, Utah, San Antonio, Kansas City and Tucson Symphonies; the Orchestra of St. Luke’s; the Florida Philharmonic; and the Minnesota Orchestra, as well as Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, among others. As a chamber musician, Joel Revzen has collaborated with Jaime Laredo, Sharon Robinson and Michael Tree.
At the invitation of Pinchas Zukerman, prior to his directorship at Berkshire Opera, Joel Revzen assumed the position of Assistant Conductor of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, conducting twenty-four concerts a year. During that same period, the maestro was on the conducting faculty of the Aspen Music Festival, previously having served as Dean of the St. Louis Conservatory, where he led the school’s growth and development. He also served as Music Director of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony for eleven years.
Joel Revzen enjoys an active recording career, including two releases with the London Symphony Orchestra: Libby Larsen’s Symphony: Water Music and Bach to Brubeck (both on Koch International Classics); Haydn’s Die Schöpfung (Albany Records) and Die Jahreszeiten (Koch,) both with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; a Mendelssohn recording with the Moscow Symphony (Newport Classics); another recording of varied works by Libby Larsen with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (Koch); and he served as both pianist and conductor on the Grammy Award-winning recording The Art of Arleen Augér (Koch). He has received critical acclaim for the first complete recording of The Consul captured on Newport Classics. In addition to Ms. Augér, among the many other artists with whom he has enjoyed a recording association are: Benita Valente, Frederica von Stade, Lynne Dawson, Joyce Castle, John Aler, Neil Rosenshein, Håkan Hagegård, John Cheek, as well as Bill Crofut and Chris Brubeck.
He has been heard on a “Saint Paul Sunday Morning” radio broadcast with the late Samuel Sanders performing and discussing music for four-hand piano, as well as on a 2007 Sirius Satellite Radio Metropolitan Opera broadcast of War and Peace.
Joel Revzen holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in conducting from The Juilliard School, which bestowed upon him their Frank Damrosch Prize in Conducting. Among his other distinctions are: winner of the Berkshire Opera’s Silver Rose Award, an Honorary Degree from the St. Louis Conservatory, the Ovation Award presented by the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony and being feted by the same institution with “Joel Revzen Day.” The latest kudo for this multi-talented musician is being named the recipient of the Florida Grand Opera’s 2008-09 Henry C. Clark Conductor Award.2