Conductor, 24, takes over new opera without rehearsal

Conductor, 24, takes over new opera without rehearsal


norman lebrecht

February 21, 2018

Ella Milch-Sheriff has written an opera about an affair between two philosophers, Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger. The work opened in Regensburg and I will have more to say about it before long.

Last night’s performance was the fourth in a run of 12. It was taken over at short notice by the company’s junior conductor Levente Török.

He knew that the singers had last performed this work three weeks ago but there was no time for an extra rehearsal. He had no more than a quick conversation here or there to suggest a few of his own ideas before entering the pit last night and doing the best he could.

Which was impressive.

For two hours and a quarter there was no hint of a doubt in any musician’s mind that this opera was in safe hands. So refreshing when that happens, and so rare.

Levente learned his trade from his father, head of Italian repertoire at Budapest Opera, and spent a brief spell as assistant to the chorus director at the Vienna Opera.

On the strength of this jump-in, I think he will go far.



  • Andreas B. says:

    I’m honoured – NL visiting my theatre!

    yes, Levente is indeed a very talented conductor.
    I thoroughly enjoy playing for him.

    last Saturday, before yesterdays performance, he successfully premiered a new ballet production with music by Reger, Pärt, Goljiov, Gorecki and Tabakova – not a mean feat either.

    amazingly though, he is not even a titled kapellmeister, just repetiteur …

    • Mark says:

      He could have been a cellist, and been just as capable of stepping in at short notice to conduct an opera. It’s happened before, with an Italian touring company in South America. Aida, I think it was…

      Talent is an essential precursor to skill.

      • Andreas B. says:

        you might have misunderstood my last sentence –
        I find it amazing that within the conducting staff’s hierarchy Levente is just a repetiteur and not given the title of kapellmeister;
        as this season he premiered and conducted not only the ballet production, but also the company’s operetta production and some children’s concerts.
        after all, I believe it’s quite extraordinary (in a german theatre) for a mere repetiteur to be entrusted with several productions.

        I did not mean to imply his stepping in as such (‘he’s just a pianist’) was amazing.

      • Andreas B. says:

        re: your Toscanini reference –
        not quite what happened here, I agree