Special Reports

Where Are They Now?
Conductor Omer Meir Wellber

June 5, 2018 | By Janelle Gelfand

New Artist of the Month: June 2014

When Omer Meir Wellber led the Israeli Philharmonic at the 2016 Dresden Music Festival, he viewed their performance in the Frauenkirche—the Baroque cathedral that was rebuilt after its wartime destruction—as not only an historic occasion, but a unifying one.

“I think that we are today a different generation,” he commented in a follow-up interview with Euronews. “In a way, the Frauenkirche and also the Israel Philharmonic represent this kind of new generation, opening the doors to bring some new air inside.”

Known for spirited, imaginative, and deeply intelligent music-making, the 36-year-old Israeli maestro has a special relationship with Dresden. His Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy (Così fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro, and Don Giovanni), which he led at the Semperoper Dresden in 2014-16, was successful enough to be repeated last year during the company’s Mozart Tage (Mozart days). Subsequently his first book, Fear, Risk and Love—Moments with Mozart, co-authored with Inge Kloepfer and published in 2017, describes the universal emotions that exist in Mozart’s three operas.

Given his repeated successes in Dresden, it was perhaps no surprise when, in February (2018), the company appointed him as its new principal guest conductor.

Opera also frequently brings Wellber to Munich, where he has led several premieres and new productions in recent years for the Bavarian State Opera. In March, Wellber conducted a rare performance of Verdi’s Les vêpres siciliennes, earning acclaim for his efforts despite what some critics viewed as a disappointing production staged by the up-and-coming German director Antú Romero Nunes.

There will be more opera for the maestro this summer, when he returns to lead the Glyndebourne festival’s new production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. As to when you might see him at the Metropolitan Opera, it won’t be long: Wellber will make his debut with Sir Richard Eyre’s production of Carmen in October.

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