Maestro move: Dohnanyi to Yekaterinburg

Maestro move: Dohnanyi to Yekaterinburg


norman lebrecht

June 25, 2015

The Slovak conductor Oliver von Dohnanyi, an offshoot of the German political-musical family, has been named principal conductor of the opera and ballet in Yekaterinburg. Among his first productions will be Weinberg’s The Passenger.

Oliver, 60, is director of the national theatre in Bratislava and has enjoyed an international career.


oliver von dohnanyi

Yekaterinburg, formerly Sverdlovsk, is Russia’s fourth largest city.



  • william osborne says:

    It seems fitting that Oliver Dohnányi would be conducting an opera by a Holocaust survivor in Russia. The original libretto of “The Passenger” by Alexander Medvedev is in Russian. And the Dohnányi family was deeply involved in the German resistance movement against Nazism. The father of the conductor Christoph Dohnányi (who was GMD in Cleveland) was put in a concentration camp and later murdered, as was his uncle, the famous resistance theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Oliver is a distant cousin to Christoph. Christoph’s brother, Klaus, was a mayor of Hamburg.

  • william osborne says:

    The Ekaterinburg State Opera and Ballet Theatre is full time. They will complete 15 performances in June and 10 more July before pausing for summer vacation. Europe’s big houses typically have about 800 full time employees. Here’s a 5 minutes video about Ekaterinburg’s Othello production. It’s in Russian, but the video itself gives an idea of what large operations these state houses are with singers, chorus, orchestra, dancers, costumers, seamstresses, shoe-makers, set builders, pop managers, truck drivers, administrative staff, and stage hands all with full time jobs:

  • stanley cohen says:

    He conducted a concertante performance of Verdi’s Don Carlos at the Barbican in the early 90s with my chorus and the LSO, I think. It was noticeable for having been quite unnoticeable.

    • Oliver von Dohnanyi says:

      Dear Stanley,

      it was ERNANI in Barbican in concert with Maria Guleghina. Greetings from teatro Colon, Buenos Aires.


      • Stanley Cohen says:

        Thank you Oliver
        I knew it was a Verdi opera and my friend Gary Brown – now in the USA, produced it. He was a member of our chorus but in his ‘day time job’ was as an impressario with exquisite taste and choice of artistes.
        Regards from Jerusalem

  • Dear Maestro Oliver von Dohnanyi,

    You are a great conductor. Your recent work with “The Passenger” is especially exemplary. I have studied the YouTube videos and have learned more from them about this important opera and its composer.

    It was especially easy to relate to “The Passenger” because my own mother had suffered in a Nazi labour camp when she was a young girl displaced from Kharkiv, Ukraine. Sadly and due to my own ignorance, I didn’t even know the existence of this work or of its composer as well till very recently when I came across this information on Gramophone.

    As a musician myself, I would be greatly honoured for an opportunity to work with you if that should ever be possible.

    Yaroslav Senyshyn