A Rising Star to Shine Briefly in
By ANTHONY TOMMASINI
November 15, 2006
The American conductor Anne Manson has stacked up some significant achievements in the international opera world. In 1994 she became the first woman to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg Festival. The occasion was a production of Mussorgskys Boris Godunov. This breakthrough came three years before this obdurately all-male orchestra hired its first female player.
Ms. Manson had previously gained attention in
By now, you might think, one or both of
And this evening Ms. Manson will be on the podium when the Juilliard Opera Center presents its production of Offenbachs wickedly humorous operetta Orphée aux Enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld), a work that demands resourceful conducting technique and a sure grasp of style.
Is lingering sexism truly the reason for the continuing under-representation of female conductors at
Its so hard to answer this, Ms. Manson, 45, said last week during an interview at Juilliard. The field does seem a little stuck, she said.
When you are on the podium, being a woman is no problem at all, Ive found, she continued. Its more of a factor when you are considered for engagements. But its difficult to know why people hire you and why they dont.
Other than a four-year stint as music director of the Kansas City Symphony, she has worked mostly in
She grew up in
A tenor friend there asked me to conduct Così Fan Tutte in a little courtyard in
In 1988 she inaugurated the Mecklenburgh Opera with a production of a neglected work, Der Kaiser von Atlantis, by the German-Czech composer Viktor Ullmann, who was killed at
Her landmark appearance in
Stopping them during a bustling ensemble, she asked the orchestra, How quietly do you dare to play this?
The operetta takes a satirical poke at the Orpheus and Eurydice legend, in particular at Glucks revered operatic version.
At the rehearsal Ms. Manson took the familiar dance at an excitingly brisk tempo. The playing was bright, buoyant and almost, though not quite yet, in perfect sync. They will get it, Ms. Manson said later, heaping praise on the skills of the Juilliard musicians.
Though Ms. Manson still works mostly in Europe, for three years she has been living in
The orchestra in her new hometown, the National Symphony, has yet to call her. Ms. Manson has learned to be patient.
Orphée aux Enfers will be performed tonight, on Friday and on Sunday at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at the Juilliard School, 155 West 65th Street, Lincoln Center; (212) 769-7406.