The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra is regarded as one of the world’s finest orchestras. From the time of the company’s inception in 1883, the ensemble has worked with leading conductors in both opera and concert performances, and has developed into an orchestra of enormous technical polish and style. The MET Orchestra (as the ensemble is referred to when appearing in concert outside the opera house) maintains a demanding schedule of performances and rehearsals during its 33-week New York season, when the company performs as many as seven times a week in repertory that this season encompasses 26 operas.
In addition to its opera schedule, the orchestra has a distinguished history of concert performances. Arturo Toscanini made his American debut as a symphonic conductor with the MET Orchestra in 1913, and the impressive list of instrumental soloists who appeared with the orchestra includes Leopold Godowsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Arthur Rubinstein, Pablo Casals, Josef Hofmann, Ferruccio Busoni, Jascha Heifetz, Moriz Rosenthal, and Fritz Kreisler. The orchestra’s appearances at Carnegie Hall began in 1991, when then–Artistic Director James Levine instituted the annual series. Since then, instrumental soloists have included Itzhak Perlman, Maxim Vengerov, Alfred Brendel, and Evgeny Kissin, and the group has performed six world premieres: Milton Babbitt’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (1998), William Bolcom’s Symphony No. 7 (2002), Hsueh-Yung Shen’s Legend (2002), Charles Wuorinen’s Theologoumenon (2007) and Time Regained (2009), and John Harbison’s Closer to My Own Life (2011).
Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla—a native of Vilnius, Lithuania—was named music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) in February 2016, following in the footsteps of Sir Simon Rattle, Sakari Oramo, and Andris Nelsons.
Ms. Gražinytė-Tyla has electrified audiences as a guest conductor all over the world. In Europe, she has collaborated with the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven Orchester Bonn, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern, Bavarian Radio Chorus, and MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, Camerata Salzburg, and Orchestra of the Komische Oper Berlin. She has enjoyed a dynamic collaboration with Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica on numerous European tours. She has led operas in Heidelberg, Salzburg, Berlin, and Bern, where she served as Kapellmeister. In North America, she has worked with the Seattle and San Diego symphonies, and made her New York conducting debut with the Juilliard Orchestra.
With the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ms. Gražinytė-Tyla was a Dudamel Fellow in the 2012–2013 season, assistant conductor for two seasons (2014–2016), and associate conductor for the 2016–2017 season. She was music director of the Salzburger Landestheater from 2015 until 2017. Winner of the 2012 Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award, she subsequently made her debut with the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester in a symphonic concert at the Salzburg Festival.
Highlights of her 2017–2018 season include an extensive tour of Europe (Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland) with the CBSO, and returns to the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She also makes debuts with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France in Paris, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, RAI National Symphony Orchestra, and The Philadelphia Orchestra.
Anita Rachvelishvili became internationally known after her 2009 opening-night performance at La Scala, in which she sang the title role in Carmen opposite Jonas Kaufmann, conducted by Daniel Barenboim. This performance marked her debut in the role and was televised all over the world. She has since brought this signature role to the Metropolitan Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Bayerische Staatsoper, Staatsoper Berlin, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, Teatro Regio Torino, Canadian Opera Company, and Arena di Verona.
In the 2017–2018 season, Ms. Rachvelishvili returned to the Metropolitan Opera as Azucena in Il trovatore, a role she subsequently performed at the Opéra de Paris and Deutsche Oper Berlin. She was also heard as Carmen in Munich and for her debut at the Semperoper Dresden. Ms. Rachvelishvili sang her first performances of Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana at the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome and made her debut at the Vienna State Opera as Amneris in Aida, a role she will also sing with Teatro Regio Torino.
Ms. Rachvelishvili’s engagements for the 2016–2017 season included Dalila in Samson et Dalila at Opéra de Paris; Amneris in Aida at Chorégies d’Orange in France; Azucena in Il trovatore at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; and the title role in Carmen at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Opéra de Paris, and Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Ms. Rachvelishvili was born in Tbilisi, Georgia. She first studied piano at the Mukhran Machavariani School, eventually focusing her studies on singing at the Vano-Sarajishvili State Conservatoire with Manana Egadze. She received a stipend from the president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, and shortly thereafter won the Paata Burchuladze Prize. While still a student at the conservatory, she debuted at the Georgian National Opera Theater in Tbilisi as Maddalena in Rigoletto and as Olga in Eugene Onegin, subsequently joining the ensemble of the theater. In 2007, she was invited to join the Accademia at La Scala. It was there that she came to the attention of Daniel Barenboim, who invited her to star in the new production of Carmen to open the 2009–2010 season.