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Russian-born conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya will conduct Island City Opera’s production of two Rimsky-Korsakov operas in January 2018.

Yankovskaya’s work has been hailed as “superb,” “expert,” and “coax[ing] every possible expressive note from the instrumentalists.”  

Yankovskaya serves as Music Director of the Chicago Opera Theater.  Additional engagements this season include Wolftrap Opera, Flagstaff Symphony, Chicago Philharmonic, Beth Morrison Projects, American Lyric Theater, Opera Saratoga, Stamford Symphony, and as chorus master with Boston Symphony Orchestra & Boston Pops.

She is also a part of The Dallas Opera’s Hart Institute for Women Conductors and Marin Alsop’s Taki Concordia Fellowship. Through this fall, Lidiya also serves as Artistic Director with Juventas New Music Ensemble & Boston New Music Festival, and is also the Founder of Refugee Orchestra Project, and previously Music Director with Harvard’s Lowell House Opera.  

At Harvard, she conducted sold-out performances of repertoire rarely heard in Boston, including Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades, Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Snow Maiden.  Under her artistic leadership, Juventas New Music has produced annual operatic premieres and performances that cross disciplinary boundaries, including musical collaborations with robots, puppeteers, visual artists, circus performers, and more. Lidiya has also been a champion of lesser known repertory and Russian operatic works, most recently conducting Rachmaninoff’s Aleko, Grétry’s Zémire et Azor, and Rubinshteyn’s The Demon.

According to Yankovskaya, “Rimsky-Korsakov’s 16 operas represent the finest of Russian operatic masterworks. Rimsky-Korsakov was a most exciting dramatist, and, a master orchestrator endowed with an exceptional understanding of the capabilities of the human voice.”  She continued, “It is a shame that his operas have been largely neglected in the U.S. for so long.”

In Kashchey, the Immortal, we follow the greatest villain in Russian folklore, Kashchey, an evil wizard, and, his scheming daughter, Kascheyvna, as they plot to tear apart two lovers, Tsarevna and Prince Ivan.  Kashchey was composed towards the end of the composer’s career.  It exhibits his dynamic theatricality, and, colorful orchestral palate.   One of the highlights of the work is the aria by Kashchey’s daughter, in which Rimsky-Korsakov orchestrates the sound of her sharpening her sword, creating the musical equivalent of metal grinding on stone.

Mozart and Salieri, on the other hand, is a much more contemplative work.   It closely follows Alexander Pushkin’s original drama of the same name.  Unlike most of Rimsky-Korsakov’s work, the piece is intimate and on the scale of a chamber opera; a conversation between two artists.

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