The Kennedy Center

John DeMain

Video and Audio

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    Show Boat: Creating the Vision - 2/4 (Choreography)

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    Show Boat: Creating the Vision - 1/4 (Overview)

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    Show Boat: Creating the Vision - 3/4 (Music)

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    Show Boat: Creating the Vision - 4/4 (Sets)


John DeMain is Music Director of the Madison Symphony and Artistic Director of Madison Opera.  He is also a sought after guest conductor of orchestras and opera companies around the world.  He is a regular guest of The Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, The Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Seattle Opera, and New York City Opera and has also conducted productions in North America for the Aspen Music Festival, Baltimore Opera, Cleveland Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Florentine Opera Company of Milwaukee, Glimmerglass Opera,, Edmonton Opera, Juilliard Opera Center, Lake George Opera, Manitoba Opera, Michigan Opera, Teatro Belles Artes of Mexico City, Opera Omaha, Opera de Puerto Rico, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Portland Opera, San Diego Opera, Seattle Opera, Vancouver Opera, and Virginia Opera.  In Europe, he has conducted for the Wexford Festival in Ireland, Bregenz Festival in Austria, Opera de Nice in France, Teatro Regio Emilia, and the Festival Euro Mediterraneo in Italy. In Australia, he has conducted at the State Opera of South Australia and Opera Queensland,

Orchestras he has led include the Adelaide Symphony, Aspen Chamber Orchestra, Boston Pops, Chautauqua Symphony, Adelaide Chamber Orchestra, Columbus Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic, Denver Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Houston Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk Orchester, National Symphony, Oakland Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Orchestra of Seville, Pacific Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Seattle Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Texas Chamber Orchestra, and Youngstown Symphony.

Notable future engagements include his return to the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera and San Francisco Opera for Show Boat, Glimmerglass Festival for Lost in the Stars and The Music Man, and Madison Opera for Eugene Onegin, La Cenerentola, and Un Ballo in Maschera.      

He served as Music Director and Principal Conductor for the Houston Grand Opera for eighteen years.  During his distinguished tenure, he led a history-making production of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, which he subsequently recorded for RCA, and won the Grammy Award, Tony Award, and France's Grand Prix du Disque and toured to many theaters throughout North America and in Europe.  Other notable productions included the world premieres of Bernstein's A Quiet Place, Floyd's Willie Stark and The Passion of Jonathan Wade, Adams' Nixon in China, Tippet's New Year, American premieres of Glass' Akhnaten and Maria de Buenos Aires. He also served as Artistic Director of Opera Pacific for ten years and as Artistic Director of Opera Omaha. 

Highlights of his career include productions of La Traviata by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, Salome by Jim Dine, Mefistofele by Robert Carson, A Midsummer Night's Dream by John Copley, and a memorable production of Tosca featuring Eva Marton, Placido Domingo, and Ingvar Wixell.  From the repertoire of American musical theater, he conducted acclaimed productions of Treemonisha, Showboat, Hello Dolly, Candide, Sweeney Todd, and Carousel. 

Television audiences have seen him on PBS's "Great Performances" conducting Porgy and Bess at the New York City Opera, and telecasts of Treemonisha, Willie Stark, An American Christmas from the Houston Grand Opera, and "Live from Lincoln Center" starring Plácido Domingo, with whom he has conducted many concerts throughout the world, including the celebrated 1992 "Concert for the Planet Earth."   His recording of Porgy and Bess for RCA Victor was awarded a "Grammy" and remains the definitive interpretation of this work.

A native of Youngstown, Ohio, he earned a Bachelor and Master's Degree in Music at the Juilliard School.  While in New York, he served as Associate Conductor for the National Education Television Opera Project, Associate Conductor of the Norwalk Symphony, and assistant conductor of the New York City Opera as the second recipient of the Julius Rudel Award. One of the first American conductors to receive the Exxon/National Endowment for the Arts conducting grant, he served as Associate Conductor of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. 

April 2012
John DeMain