Prophecy fulfilled: WNO announces Zambello extension, Rogister appointment

Evan Rogister, Francesca Zambello
Washington Post

By Anne Midgette

Francesca Zambello will remain artistic director of the Washington National Opera. On Friday, the company made a long-expected announcement that the director’s contract has been renewed, for three more years, through the 2020-2021 season.

The company will have a new musical leader, as well: Evan Rogister will take over as principal conductor for a four-year term, through 2021-2022. Rogister, notably, will not have the official title of music director, although WNO’s statement said he will hold “the same responsibilities as a music director.” He will report to Tim O’Leary, WNO’s general director.

“I’m happy that it’s working out,” Zambello said, reached by phone earlier this week during rehearsals for “La traviata,” which opens WNO’s current season on Oct. 6. She feels the company has achieved many of its goals during the first five years of her official tenure, she said, “in terms of artistic content, style, casting, and commitment to American works.”

“I think the next five years is about what we can achieve in collaboration with the Kennedy Center, not just about opera but about bigger issues and themes.” The Kennedy Center, she says, gives WNO a platform for contextualizing repertoire with “more lectures, more programs, more content surrounding the opera” — creating, she says, “a dialogue with the audience.”

For Rogister, 38, this is the first permanent appointment after a promising career as a freelancer in the United States and in Europe. At WNO, he has conducted “Moby-Dick,” “Carmen,” and, most recently, “Aida,” when his eleventh-hour hiring to replace the originally scheduled Michael Christie seemed to indicate he was at least being strongly considered for the job.

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