English National Opera (ENO) today (30 January 2018) announced conductor Valentina Peleggi as the next recipient of the ENO Mackerras Conducting Fellowship. She will hold this position for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons.
The ENO Mackerras Conducting Fellowship offers exceptionally talented young conductors the opportunity to work and develop at ENO, mentored by ENO Music Director Martyn Brabbins. Former recipients of the ENO Mackerras Conducting Fellowship include inaugural recipient Gergely Madaras and current ENO Mackerras Conducting Fellows Matthew Kofi Waldren and Toby Purser.
Alongside assisting on productions, Valentina will have full access to the casting, staging and production departments as well the opportunity to travel with the Music Director and make important contacts across the international opera scene. In both years of her Fellowship Valentina will be conducting performances of a number of different operas at the London Coliseum, including a production of her own in the 2019/20 season.
Italian conductor Valentina Peleggi is Guest Music Director at the Teatro Sao Pedro in Sao Paulo (Brazil) from 2018-2021, specialising in Italian opera and conducting one production each season. This follows immediately upon her two seasons as Resident Conductor of the OSESP Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Principal Conductor of their professional chorus. She was voted Conductor of the Year by the Paulistan Society of Critics of Arts in 2017, and in 2016 won the APCA Prize. She studied conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and before that with Bruno Campanella and Gianluigi Gelmetti in Florence and Rome, informally assisting them at Chicago Lyric, Paris Bastille and in Naples, Parma and Torino, where she also worked on a RAI film of Cenerentola. She is a former Taki Concordia Fellow under Marin Alsop. Last season besides her subscription weeks in Sao Paulo she guested with the Baltimore and Omaha Symphonies, Orchestra della Toscana, Orchestra del Teatro Verdi di Trieste and participated in the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s prestigious masterclasses with Daniele Gatti.
Valentina Peleggi said: ‘Believing in someone, offering the chance to develop and to grow is one of the most precious gifts. I’m incredibly thankful to the English National Opera and to the Philip Loubser Foundation for this fantastic opportunity to learn at the heart of such legendary Institution, from and with such top-class artists and at the side of a true inspiration as Martyn Brabbins: this is a dream becoming true. With the same gratitude I would like to thank Marin Alsop, Arthur Nestrovski and Marcelo Lopes from the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra who first believed in me and generously transformed my life forever. I can’t wait to be there and to start this fantastic experience!’
The ENO Mackerras Conducting Fellowship is a joint initiative between ENO and the Philip Loubser Foundation, and celebrates the legacy of Sir Charles Mackerras. A longlist of twelve and then a shortlist of eight international candidates interviewed and auditioned for the Fellowship. The auditions involved rehearsing the ENO Orchestra as well as singers Andrew Shore and ENO Harewood Artists Katie Coventry, Eleanor Dennis and Elgan Llyr Thomas. On the panel were Martyn Brabbins (ENO Music Director), Daniel Kramer (ENO Artistic Director), Martin Fitzpatrick (ENO Head of Music), Sir John Tomlinson, Tom Service, Gergely Madaras (inaugural ENO Mackerras Conducting Fellow) and Michelle Williams (ENO Head of Casting).
Martyn Brabbins said: ‘ENO received scores of applications for the next Charles Mackerras Fellowship from talented and ambitious conductors from every corner of the globe. Valentina Peleggi was the outstanding candidate over the two days of auditions, and I, and the whole company, are truly delighted that the audition panel, the guest singers and the orchestra united to make this decision. Valentina has great potential. She bears her musicianship in a very honest and open-hearted manner, and communicates her passion for music, and particularly for opera, in a totally convincing way. ENO looks forward to welcoming Valentina in to the company, and we anticipate many fine performances from her in the coming years.’
During their time with ENO, current Mackerras Conducting Fellows Matthew Kofi Waldren and Toby Purser have already assisted on a number of ENO Productions and will each conduct an ENO performance at the London Coliseum later this season. In addition, Toby Purser will conduct ENO’s performances of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in June, and Matthew Kofi Waldren will conduct Paul Bunyan at Wilton’s Music Hall in September.
Toby Purser said: ‘The ENO Mackerras Fellowship has enabled me to engage with ENO and develop my skills on a level far wider than just the many invaluable and inspiring musical experiences and opportunities. I will complete the Fellowship this summer with a fuller appreciation of the many brilliant people and skills needed to run an opera house, and an understanding of how I would wish to approach being Music Director to an opera house myself, hopefully one day before long.’
Matthew Kofi Waldren said: ‘The ENO Mackerras Fellowship has afforded me the opportunity of working at the heart of ENO alongside extraordinary colleagues from every department. The list of positive benefits continues to grow: working closely with the exceptional music staff and wonderful singers; media, business and social media training; travelling to Opera Houses in USA for introductory meetings; assisting the Music Directors of ENO; making my ENO debut in April 2018 conducting a performance of The Marriage of Figaro; being closely involved with all stages of ENO Studio Live at Wiltons Music Hall where I will conduct Paul Bunyan in September 2018. It’s been a wonderful experience and I hope the relationships formed continue to grow and develop into the future.’
Michael Loubser, on behalf of the Philip Loubser Foundation, said: ‘What a pleasure to see the ENO Mackerras Conducting Fellowship becoming a world-wide beacon of opportunity for young conductors – to work for a concentrated period alongside Martyn Brabbins; to study the operations of a major opera house from the inside; to extend their international network and to expand and develop their operatic repertoire with world class singers, chorus and orchestra. Sir Charles would have been delighted. The PLF is overjoyed about Valentina’s selection and wish her the best for her time at ENO.’