Opera's Next Wave
In the three years since he was featured in OPERA NEWS's "Sound Bites," Evan Rogister has become one of classical music's most talked-about young conductors. When the North Carolina native spoke to OPERA NEWS in 2009, he had just finished his debut run at Seattle Opera, leading Bluebeard's Castle and Erwartung, and was about to start a two-year stint as Kapellmeister (principal assistant conductor) at Deutsche Oper Berlin, during which he would lead Die Zauberflöte, La Bohème, Manon Lescaut, Rienzi, Hänsel und Gretel, La Traviata and Carmen. Rogister followed up his term at DOB with engagements there as a guest conductor for Otello and Don Giovanni in 2011–12 and his debut at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm this past spring, leading Lohengrin. After building his resumé in Europe, Rogister is now scheduled to appear with more frequency in the U.S. This summer, he is at Santa Fe Opera, leading Szymanowski's King Roger for his company debut; he will return to that company in 2013 to lead the world premiere of Theodore Morrison's much-anticipated Oscar. In October 2012, Rogister opens the season at Houston Grand Opera — the company where he made his U.S. opera conducting debut, in 2006 — pacing John Caird's staging of La Bohème. In February 2013, he arrives at Lyric Opera of Chicago for Rigoletto, to be followed by a March–April run leading the Lyric premiere of A Streetcar Named Desire, with Renée Fleming as Blanche.
Rogister, who counts Patrick Summers, Alan Gilbert and Donald Runnicles among his professional mentors, speaks and listens with the unfailing discretion that all successful assistant conductors learn on the job. He is smart, hard-working, unaffectedly musical and blessed with natural leadership ability. Tall and striking, he faces an orchestra with the sangfroid of a man born wearing white tie and tails, but he acknowledges that his relative youth — he's still in his early thirties — can present the occasional professional challenge: "All young conductors face the fact that for the first ten years of your career, you are way younger than almost everybody in the orchestra. And everybody knows it. And you have to deal with it. But I don't waste time on wondering what they think about me and how young I am. My job is to stay focused on the score and work with them on what the composer wanted."
Rogister began his training as a classical musician — first as a trombone player, then as a baritone — at Indiana University, but he did not begin serious work on conducting until he was at Juilliard, studying for his master's in voice. "Having studied singing, I understand breathing better. The lucky thing for me is that it not only helps singers, but it helps the way I conduct the orchestra. People who don't think about the breathing that a phrase must have — orchestral or vocal — are missing out on something. You can hear when a string section breathes — the strings of the Vienna Phiharmonic, of the Dresden Staatskapelle, of the Deutsche Oper, the Met Orchestra. They play vocally. They breathe."
Send feedback to OPERA NEWS.