Music Director Designate

Enrique Mazzola is Lyric Opera of Chicago’s music director designate. He will become music director of the internationally acclaimed company beginning with the 2021/22 season.

Widely recognized as one of today’s foremost interpreters and champions of bel canto opera and a leading specialist in French repertoire and early Verdi, the eminent Italian maestro is in high demand worldwide as both an operatic and symphonic conductor. He is principal guest conductor at Deutsche Oper Berlin, and until recently served as artistic and music director of the Orchestre National d’Île-de-France (ONDIF) in Paris. In recognition of his significant contribution to musical life in France, Mazzola was made a Chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in October 2018. 

In 2019 he returned to the Metropolitan Opera for Donizetti’s La fille du regiment (featured in its 2018/2019 cinema season), followed by back-to-back summer engagements – both critically-acclaimed new productions -- in Austria. First was Mazzola’s return to the Bregenz Festival for Rigoletto, followed by his Salzburg Festival debut in August, conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in Barrie Kosky’s new staging of Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld.

Lyric audiences first experienced Mazzola’s artistry when he conducted Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor here in 2016/17, and when he returned for Bellini’s I puritani in 2017/18. In Lyric’s 2019/20 season he leads Verdi’s Luisa Miller to launch the company’s early Verdi series.

Mazzola’s 2019/20 season also includes his return to the Zurich Opera House (Don Pasquale, new production), Vienna Symphony Orchestra for concerts at the Musikverein and Bregenz Festival, Deutsche Oper Berlin (Meyerbeer’s Le prophète and Dinorah), Orchestre Symphonique de Quebéc, Glyndebourne Festival Opera (L’elisir d’amore), Taiwan Philharmonic, and symphonic concerts in Germany.  Future plans include his return to London Philharmonic, both in London and on tour in Europe.

Recent seasons have included engagements with the Vienna State Opera (Don Pasquale), Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Oslo Philharmonic, Royal Northern Sinfonia, New Japan Philharmonic, Taipei Symphony, Brussels Philharmonic, and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Mazzola’s return engagements have included the Zurich Opera House (Turco in Italia, Maria Stuarda, Il barbiere di Siviglia, I puritani), Bregenz Festival (Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto), Scottish Chamber Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Deutsche Oper Berlin (most recently for a new production of Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann), Norske Opera (Don Giovanni), the Vienna Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, São Paulo State Symphony, and Glyndebourne Festival Opera (The Barber of Seville). 

Mazzola’s final season with Orchestre National d’Île de France included recordings, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with Cédric Tiberghien, and works by Respighi, of whose compositions he is an acclaimed interpreter. Highlights of previous seasons with ONDIF included a concert version of Rossini’s La Cenerentola, recordings and concerts in Paris, including their sold-out Philharmonie de Paris series.

Past opera engagements have also included the Rossini Opera Festival (La gazzetta), Theatre des Champs-Elysées (Tancredi, Don Pasquale, La scala di seta, L'occasione fa il ladro, Il signor Bruschino), Deutsche Oper Berlin (Dinorah in concert, The Barber of Seville, The Flying Dutchman, Falstaff, Vasco da Gama), and the Bolshoi Theatre (La sonnambula). Mazzola has led earlier performances at Glyndebourne Festival Opera of Don Pasquale, Poliuto, L’elisir d’amore, and The Barber of Seville. Additional opera credits include Florence’s Teatro del Maggio Musicale (L’italiana in Algeri), New National Theatre Tokyo (Don Giovanni), Opera du Rhin (Macbeth, La Cenerentola), and Milan’s La Scala (Don Pasquale)

Major European festival appearances have included Falstaff at the Aix-en-Provence Festival; Festival de Radio France et Montpellier, Enescu Festival and Haydn Festival with Orchestre National d’Île de France; BBC Proms, Munich’s Opernfestspiele, Rossini Opera Festival, Biennale of Venice, Wexford Opera Festival, Festival de Granada, and Les Chorégies d'Orange. 

An accomplished interpreter of contemporary music, Mazzola has commissioned and conducted several premieres with ONDIF and has founded Île de Créations, a competition for young composers. He conducted the world premieres of Alberto Colla’s Il processo at La Scala, Il re nudo by Luca Lombardi at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Medusa by Arnaldo de Felice at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Isabella by Azio Corghi at the Rossini Opera Festival, and many other symphonic premieres with major European orchestras. 

Between 1999 and 2003 Mazzola served as artistic and music director of the Cantiere Internazionale d’Arte in Montepulciano, building on the rich heritage of composer Hans Werner Henze, who started the Italian summer school and musical festival for young singers, actors, musicians, conductors and composers in 1976. Mazzola conducted many world premieres of contemporary music in symphonic concerts and new operatic productions at the festival with the Royal Northern College of Music Symphony Orchestra. That engagement led to Mazzola being named the first international brand ambassador of Tuscany’s Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, promoting the culture of Vino Nobile and the surrounding Montepulciano wine region in Italy and abroad. 

Mazzola was born in Barcelona, Spain, into a musical family. Growing up in Milan, he studied violin and piano, completing his studies at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi of Milan, earning diplomas in composition and orchestral conducting. As a child he was a member of the Teatro alla Scala children’s chorus, during which time he also served as a soloist. He cherished the opportunity to work with prominent conductors and directors (including Abbado, Kleiber, Osawa, Strehler), ultimately confirming his interest in pursuing a conducting career and his wish to become a creative member of the opera world.

Enrique Mazzola, music director designate at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Photo: Jean-Baptiste Millot