The Kennedy Center

Kent Nagano


Kent Nagano has established a reputation as a gifted interpreter of both the operatic and symphonic repertoire. A popular guest conductor with many of the world's leading orchestras, Nagano is also Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Deutsches Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin and Principal Conductor of Los Angeles Opera. In 2006 he will take over from Zubin Mehta as Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera. He also maintains his long association with the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra in California, where he has held the position of Music Director since 1978.

Kent Nagano rose to prominence in 1984 when Olivier Messiaen selected him to assist Seiji Ozawa in preparing the world premiere of his opera Saint Francois d'Assise. He went on to become Music Director of the Opéra National de Lyon from 1989-1998, with whom he commissioned and premiered Peter Eötvös' opera Three Sisters, and Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra from 1991-2000, with whom he toured regularly. As Associate Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra he premiered Bernstein's White House Cantata, and in Brussels he conducted the world premiere of John Adams' opera The Death of Klinghoffer. Nagano has appeared regularly at the Salzburg Festival to great critical acclaim, and in 2000 he conducted the world premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s opera L’amour de Loin in Salzburg. He also recently gave the premiere of John Adams’ new opera El Niño at the Chatelet in Paris (recorded for Nonesuch).

This season Nagano has directed a number of operatic productions including Shostakovich's The Nose at the Deutsche Staatsoper, Rimsky Korsakov's The Golden Cockeral at the Chatelet in Paris, Don Giovanni and The Damnation of Faust in Los Angeles and The Tales of Hoffmann at the Salzburg Festival. Future plans include Turandot in Berlin, Salome at the Dresden Staatsoper, Dialogue des Carmelites at the Opera National de Paris, Billy Budd at Bavarian State Opera, and Madam Butterfly, Die Frau Ohne Schatten and the first ever Ring Cycle in Los Angeles.

Orchestral guest engagements over the last two seasons have included the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, NDR Hamburg and Russian National Orchestras, and the Dresden Staatskapelle. Future invitations include the Vienna Philharmonic, NDR Hamburg, London and Chicago Symphony Orchestras, the Munich, London and New York Philharmonic Orchestras, the National Symphony Orchestra Washington and the Dresden Staatskapelle.

Kent Nagano’s many recordings for Erato and Teldec include Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne with Dawn Upshaw, Les Contes d’Hoffmann with Roberto Alagna and José van Dam, La Bohème with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust with Susan Graham, Thomas Moser and José van Dam, Billy Budd with Thomas Hampson, Messiaen's Saint Francois d'Assise from the Salzburg Festival, Mahler Symphony No.3 with Deutches Symphonie Orchester and Messiaen's Turangalîla Symphony with the Berlin Philharmonic. Last year his recording of Busoni’s Doktor Faust with the Opéra National de Lyon won the Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording. For Deutsche Grammophon he has recorded Peter Eötvös’s Trois Soeurs and Bernstein’s White House Cantata.

July 2003

Photo of Kent Nagano