Artistic Director Robert Lyall
Robert Lyall has been the Artistic Director of Opera Grand Rapids since 1989. He was named General Director of the New Orleans Opera Association in December of 1998. During his active career as conductor and administrator he has received frequent recognition for artistic achievement in these and other positions that he has held:
Equally at home in opera, symphony or ballet, Maestro Lyall made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1998 with the New England Symphony and his recent European guest appearances include performances of Giselle for Italy’s Arena of Verona, the Bulgarian State Opera’s tour of the Netherlands for Verdi’s Nabucco, and his Russian debut in 2002 at the Rostov State Musical Theatre for Madama Butterfly. Maestro Lyall’s production of Madama Butterfly was nominated for Russia’s leading arts award, “The Golden Mask,” for which he also conducted performances in Moscow and St. Petersburg in 2003.
For future performances in Russia, he has transcribed the English-language musical score of Thomas Pasatieri’s opera The Seagull into the original Russian of Anton Chekov’s celebrated play. Significant performance highlights include: Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio at Istanbul’s Topkopei Palace in honor of the 700th anniversary of the founding of the Ottoman Empire, the world premiere with the Knoxville Opera of Kenton Coe’s opera Rachel,a production of the American classic, Susannah, by Carlisle Floyd which was broadcast regionally on public television, “Big Easy” awards for New Orleans Opera productions of: A Street Car Named Desire (2001), Wagner’s Die Walküre (2002), Puccini’s Turandot (2003), Mozart’s Don Giovanni (2004), Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffman (2005), Wagner’s Siegfried (2006), Puccini’s il Trittico (2007), and Verdi’s Rigoletto (2008). Additionally, Lyall has received “Big Easy Creative Achievement Awards” for “A Night for New Orleans” with Placido Domingo (2007), and New Orleans Opera’s “New Years Eve Gala" (2007).
Maestro Lyall’s recent guest engagements include Faust for the Cleveland Opera (2005) and New York’s Chautauqua Festival (2005) and performances of Mozart’s Don Giovanni for Opera Carolina (2008). Other notable engagements include the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Seattle Opera, Akron Opera and New York’s Chautauqua Opera Festival. Symphonic engagements include the Las Palmas Symphony, Guadalajara Symphony, Guanajuato Symphony, The New World Symphony, Prince George Philharmonic, Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, the Ashville Symphony, Corpus Christi Symphony, Knoxville Symphony, Pueblo (CO) Philharmonic, Southeast Kansas Philharmonic, and Victoria Symphony. He has led ballet performances for the Dallas Ballet, Fort Worth Ballet, San Antonio Ballet, Corpus Christi Ballet, Chattanooga Ballet, and Oak Ridge BalletLyall has enjoyed particular success with “grand” arena productions of Verdi’s Aïda in both Michigan and Tennessee.
Another important recent project was the New Orleans Opera presentation in October 2003 of the world premiere of Thea Musgrave’s opera, Pontalba, commissioned for the national bicentennial celebration of the Louisiana Purchase. Robert Lyall was a winner of the American Symphony Orchestra League’s National Conducting Competition and was a Conducting Fellow with that organization during which time he studied with Richard Lert. He later studied in Amsterdam with Kyril Kondrashin, conductor of the Moscow Philharmonic.
He was also the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in recognition for his work in composition. He studied at the University of North Texas where he earned a Ph.D. in Musicology and Composition and a Masters of Music in Composition. He has served on the music faculty of the University of Houston and as a guest lecturer in Music at the Instituto Allende in Mexico. Widely known as a judge for national and international instrumental and vocal competitions and as a lecturer on opera, Lyall has for many years led lecture tours for the International Council for Cultural Exchange to the world’s major opera houses and summer opera festivals of Europe.