Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago names Martin Wright new chorus master starting with the 2012-13 season

Press Release Letterhead

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Lyric Opera of Chicago names Martin Wright
new chorus master starting with the 2012-13 season

Michael Black to serve as interim chorus master  for Lyric’s 2011-12 season


William Mason, general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, has announced that Martin Wright will be the company’s new chorus master beginning with the 2012-13 season, and that Michael Black will serve as Lyric’s interim chorus master for the 2011-12 season.

Because of his ongoing commitment as artistic director of the chorus of the Netherlands Opera, Wright will start at Lyric in August 2012.

Black is taking a one-year leave of absence from his ongoing post as chorus master of Opera Australia, and is scheduled to start at Lyric on August 1.

Black and subsequently Wright replace Donald Nally, Lyric’s chorus master since May 2007.

“After several years of great experiences in Europe, I am excited to return to the U.S. in 2012 as chorus master for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, a company I have long admired,” said Wright.

 “I am delighted to be joining Lyric Opera of Chicago for the 2011-12 season,” Black said. “I have long been aware of the company’s reputation as one of the world’s great opera houses and to be part of this organization and custodian of the wonderful chorus for this season is such an honor.”

“We are delighted that, beginning in 2012, the Lyric Opera Chorus will be benefiting from Martin Wright's highly impressive background and international experience," said Mason. “We are also confident that Michael Black will do an excellent job leading the chorus in the coming season. We know that both will maintain the high standards that we’ve enjoyed from our chorus for decades, and are looking forward to working with each of them.”

Martin Wright has enjoyed a successful career as a conductor, chorus master, coach/ accompanist, and vocalist over the course of more than 35 years. His operatic repertoire encompasses more than 120 works, and his oratorio/symphonic repertoire encompasses more than 130 works.

Wright has served as artistic director of the chorus of The Netherlands Opera since 2006. Under his direction, the chorus has received critical and popular acclaim in productions including Tannhäuser, Doctor Atomic, Boris Godunov, La Juive, Castor et Pollux, Les Troyens, Turandot, and Saint François d’Assise. His first engagement with The Netherlands Opera was as guest conductor of the chorus in 2005, for Prokofiev’s The Love of Three Oranges. From 1993 through 2002, he was chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Choir, and he continues as a guest conductor for several productions annually.

In 2011 Wright serves as guest chorus master for the Bayerischer Rundfunkchor in Eugene Onegin, and commences an annual engagement as principal guest conductor of the Chorus of the Shanghai Opera House. In 2010 he served as guest chorus master for the Hong Kong Philharmonic/Shanghai Opera House Beethoven Festival.

As principal guest conductor of Lyric Opera San Diego (2000-2006), Wright led productions of Candide, The Barber of Seville, The Abduction from the Seraglio, Die Fledermaus, and La cenerentola. He served as music director of the San Diego Master Chorale (2002-06). As guest conductor of Nevada Opera (2000-03), he led performances of Don Giovanni, La traviata, Carmen, and Die Fledermaus. He served as guest conductor of the Berlin Radio Choir (2001-03), where he prepared performances of Rachmaninoff’s The Bells, Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater, Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette, Wagner’s Parsifal, and a Gershwin program.

Wright is former chorus master of San Diego Opera (1984-97); during that time he also served as a cover for ailing baritones and tenors in several productions, and conducted several benefit concerts. He served as guest chorus master for Los Angeles Opera in 1988-89, preparing the ensemble for Otello and Les Contes d’Hoffmann in productions starring artistic director Plácido Domingo. As assistant to the artistic director of Arizona Opera (1982-83) he also served as chorus master. He has worked on the music staffs of the Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts (1983) and Brigham Young University (1973-80), and has also taught at Music Academy of the West (1989) and University of Arizona (1980-81). Wright holds a bachelor of music degree from Brigham Young University (1980) and a master of music degree from University of Arizona (1981).  A native of Murtaugh, Idaho, he was born in 1955.  

Michael Black is chorus master of Opera Australia, a post he has held since 2001. Over the past decade, his operatic repertoire has included seven Mozart works (including The Magic Flute, part of Lyric’s 2011-12 season), 12 Verdi works (including Aida, part of Lyric’s next season), 13 French works (including The Tales of Hoffmann, which opens Lyric’s next season), 16 Italian works (including Lucia di Lammermoor, part of Lyric’s next season), ten German works, eight English works, six Slavic works, and ten operettas in various languages. Additionally, he has prepared the Opera Australia chorus for performances of the Verdi Requiem, the Mozart Requiem, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Brahms’s A German Requiem, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Holst’s The Planets, Rimsky Korsakov’s Polotvisan Dances and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. Recordings and/or DVDs with Opera Australia include the Verdi Requiem, Pirates of Penzance, The Love of Three Oranges, Rusalka, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Ravel’s Daphnis et Cloe, and Opera Australia’s 50th Gala Concert. He began at Opera Australia as a repetiteur (rehearsal pianist), then worked as assistant chorus master and children’s chorus master before being appointed chorus master in 2001.

Black has also worked as chorus master with the Edinburgh Festival and London’s Holland Park Opera, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia Choir, Sydney Motet Choir, and Cantillation in a variety of repertoire. He is considered one of Australia’s finest vocal accompanists and regularly performs with singers in recital, broadcast, and recording (several for the Australian Broadcast Corporation). For several years he has been a lecturer at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, has adjudicated many competitions, and has given vocal master classes. His many awards and scholarships include the Opera Foundation Bayreuth Scholarship (2001). Black holds a bachelor of music education degree and graduate diploma in accompaniment from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and a master of music degree (in musicology) from the University of New South Wales in Sydney. He was born in 1965.


The Howard A. Stotler Chorus Master Endowed Chair