William Lacey

© Damir Yusupov / Bolshoi Theatre

The music is the protagonist of this opera and of this production. For the second time after the Midsummer Night’s Dream, together with the orchestra, chorus and soloists, Lacey makes Britten in Moscow a revelation and a great event

Kommersant, Billy Budd, Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow

William Lacey was born in London in 1973 and now holds dual British and German citizenship. He is a conductor of wide-ranging musical interests. At the centre of his repertoire are the operas of Mozart, which he has conducted at the Bolshoi, Birmingham Opera Company, Canadian Opera Company, Garsington Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Oper Leipzig, Opera North, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, the Stanislavsky opera in Moscow, the Royal Opera in Stockholm, St Petersburg Philharmonic Hall, Utah Opera, and even in the arctic city of Tromsø.

Among earlier repertoire, he has a great love for the operas of Gluck, which he has conducted in Stockholm, Moscow and Washington DC. He conducted Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea from the harpsichord at Houston Grand Opera, with a cast including Susan Graham, David Daniels and Frederica von Stade. He started as a Handel conductor at San Francisco Opera in 2000, when Sir Charles Mackerras gave the young Staff Conductor the opportunity to conduct half of the Semele performances. Later he developed an edition of Handel’s Tamerlano especially for Placido Domingo, which he subsequently conducted at Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and the Liceu in Barcelona.

William Lacey has conducted the standard operas of Rossini, Verdi and Puccini in San Francisco, Utah, Chicago, Leipzig, Bergen, Scottish Opera, the Netherlands Reisopera, Graz, and elsewhere. He has also explored some of the lesser-known byways of the romantic repertoire - for example, Chabrier’s masterpiece Le roi malgré lui, which he conducted at the Opéra Comique in Paris. As Kapellmeister at Oper Leipzig he conducted over one hundred performances with the Gewandhaus Orchestra, including German pieces like Hänsel und Gretel, Die Fledermaus and Weill’s Mahagonny.

Among 20th-century composers, Benjamin Britten holds an important place in Lacey’s musical life. He has conducted Albert Herring in San Francisco, Curlew River at the Barbican in London, A Midsummer Night’s Dream in both Moscow and Honolulu, and recently the Moscow premiere of Billy Budd, which made a sensational impact at the Bolshoi in 2016, in David Alden’s production from ENO. Lacey has been a regular guest conductor at the Bolshoi since his debut there in 2014. He has also conducted Jenufa at Grange Park Opera, Il Prigioniero/ La Vida Breve at the Greek National Opera, and the world premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Life is a Dream with Birmingham Opera Company and Graham Vick.

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