Spanish-born Jesus Lopez-Cobos recently completed a seven year tenure as Music Director of the Teatro Real in Madrid. He maintains the title of Conductor Emeritus of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, having served as the orchestra’s Music Director from 1986-2001. Under his leadership for 15 seasons, the orchestra earned international acclaim for its tour performances and its extensive catalogue of recordings for Telarc. Mr. Lopez-Cobos has previously served as General Music Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin (1981-1990) and Music Director of the famed Lausanne Chamber Orchestra in Switzerland (1991-2000).
Mr. Lopez-Cobos’ illustrious career has taken him to centers of music around the world. He has regularly conducted such ensembles as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin, the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the London Symphony, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Vienna Symphony, the Oslo Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. After his first concert with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1978, he toured extensively with that orchestra and held the post of Principal Guest Conductor from 1981 to 1986. With his career almost equally balanced between operatic and orchestral engagements, he has conducted at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, London’s Royal Opera House at Covent Garden and the Metropolitan Opera. His years at the Berlin Opera included a major Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle, performed at the Berlin Festival, in Japan (where it was that country’s first complete “Ring”) and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Upcoming opera projects in Europe will take him to the Vienna Staatsoper, Geneva Grand Theatre, Zurich Opera House and the Deutsche Oper Berlin.
Mr. Lopez-Cobos made a brilliant North American orchestral debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1978 and has since appeared in this country with the principal orchestras of New York, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, among others. Recent guest conducting appearances in North America have included ten performances of Massenet’s Thaïs at the Metropolitan Opera as well as a production of Manon with the Metropolitan Opera and a production of Rigoletto with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. He appears with the Vancouver Symphony in the 2010/11 season.
During his tenure with the Cincinnati Symphony, Mr. Lopez-Cobos led the orchestra on its first European tour since 1969 to outstanding success. The triumphant 29-day, 20-city tour in 1995 encompassed the Canary Islands, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Mr. Lopez-Cobos’ touring activities with the Cincinnati Symphony also included a major tour of the Far East in the fall of 1990, during which the orchestra performed for capacity audiences in Taiwan and throughout Japan. Additionally, Mr. Lopez-Cobos led the orchestra in highly acclaimed annual concerts at Carnegie Hall.
The conductor’s distinguished recording career includes releases of both operatic and orchestral repertoire for Philips, London/Decca, Angel/EMI and RCA Victor. For Telarc he has made numerous recordings with the Cincinnati Symphony, beginning with a 1987 release of de Falla’s “Three-Cornered Hat” that was named a Record of the Year by Stereo Review. Additional recordings with the orchestra include Bruckner Symphonies Nos. 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9, and an all-Strauss disc featuring a Suite from “Der Rosenkavalier” and the “Burleske” for Piano and Orchestra with soloist Jeffrey Kahane. Other highly praised Telarc releases by Mr. Lopez-Cobos include “Wagner for Orchestra,” a second de Falla disc, featuring “La Vida Breve,” and his 26th and final recording with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, “Music of Turina and Debussy,” which was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Mr. Lopez-Cobos graduated with a degree in philosophy from the University of Madrid. Although he had received no formal musical training, he began to conduct the university choir. His talent was immediately evident and led to studies in conducting with Franco Ferrara in Italy and, by 1966, with Hans Swarowsky in Vienna. Three years later he won First Prize in the Besancon Competition and made his debut as a professional conductor in opera at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice. His American operatic debut came in 1972 at the San Francisco Opera.
Among the many awards bestowed upon him, Mr. Lopez-Cobos has received the Cross of Merit, First Class, of the Federal Republic of Germany for his outstanding contributions to German culture, and the government of France has inducted him as an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters. He has also been honored by his own country for his artistic achievements on two occasions; once as the first recipient of the Prince of the Asturias Award, which was presented to him by the Spanish government and the Royal House in 1981, and more recently, in 2001 he was presented with the Medal of Bellas Artes. Mr. Lopez-Cobos also holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Cincinnati.