It’s over in Hannover for enterprising music director

It’s over in Hannover for enterprising music director


norman lebrecht

March 20, 2014

Karen Kamensek, busy music director at the Hannover State Opera has decided not to renew her five-year contract beyond 2016. Too much going on elsewhere in her career, apparently.

Karen, Chicago born, has made her way up the German ladder over the past decade from first kapellmeister at Vienna’s Volksoper to music director in Freiburg, deputy in Hamburg and, from 2011, #1 in Hannover. But US opera companies have awoken to her abilities and Karen is keen to be up, up and away.

karen kamensek2


  • Judith Higbee says:

    I find it strange and slightly demeaning to see the subject of the article subsequently referred to by her first name. Why not use her last name as would typically be done if the artist were a man?

    • M.A. Steinberger says:

      I agree.

      • Stereo says:

        Probably because nobody has heard of her. Marin Alsop is usually referred to as Marin,Beecham was often called Tommy and he was greater than any female conductors past or present.

    • MWnyc says:

      Well, she has posted here before. It could be that Norman knows her personally, at least a bit. And I’ve certainly seen Norman refer to male artists by their first names here at Slipped Disc. (It would be different if this were a formal newspaper or magazine article.)

      Maybe she’ll post here herself and let us know if she objects to being referred to as “Karen” in a blog post.

      In any case, just from the content of this post, it’s more than clear that Norman’s intent was to praise and congratulate the Maestra, not to demean her.

  • Kamensek’s departure doesn’t make sense to me. Hannover is one of Germany’s A-level opera houses. It is a repertoire theater that typically has 12 to 14 different operas in production each season. For the current rep see these two urls:

    Even San Francisco and Chicago don’t have seasons like that. Hannover’s season is four months longer. And our companies below Chicago and San Francisco that trail by miles. So why would Kamensek give up a job like that – especially since she could probably workout a fairly flexible schedule through the use of guest conductors for several of the years productions?

    Karen’s tenure in Freiburg was also very short. I hope this isn’t a woman conductor once again facing problems because of her gender. In any case, it is not an unfounded concern. It would be good to have more details about what is happening at the Hannover Staatsoper.

  • Alexander Platt says:

    I’m sure she’ll manage. We were both considered for Freiburg some time ago, and she got it; I got screwed.

  • Elektra says:

    But no one is coming up with the idea that maybe she just is not good….. [redacted: defamation] Would be nice to hear from some insider in Hanover.

    • Red flags should go up when we hear a woman conductor being accused of arrogance. As if all those famous male Maestros out there were the paradigm of humbleness. No problem for them, but an arrogant woman is intolerable. And the assertion that Kamensek, as someone who has worked in opera for years, and who is the GMD of the house, wouldn’t know her scores is also absurd on its face.