Carlo Rizzi is set to take over as artistic director of Opera Rara, succeeding Sir Mark Elder who will be stepping down in September 2019, the London-based opera company has announced.

The Italian conductor has previously worked as artistic director for Welsh National Opera and has long-standing relationships with Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, the Royal Opera House in London, Opéra National de Paris, Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Rizzi first collaborated with Opera Rara in 2017 when he conducted Écho and Espoir, two CDs of bel canto arias with soprano Joyce El-Khoury and tenor Michael Spyres.

Commenting on his new role, Rizzi said: “Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of Opera Rara and I am excited to take the position of artistic director at this pivotal moment. Opera is my passion and I strongly believe in its future. Just as it is important to present known masterpieces afresh and to commission new works, I believe that finding and bringing back to life the hidden jewels of this endlessly enriching artform is equally vital to excite modern audiences. The journey that I am starting here with this unique organisation will allow me to go even further in exploring many strands of less well-known repertoire. I am looking forward to it!”

Opera Rara describes itself as a “unique and award-winning combination of opera company, recording label and live operatic archaeologist”. It was established in 1970 with the aim of rediscovering, restoring, recording and performing the forgotten and neglected operas of the 19th century.

Rizzi succeeds award-winning British conductor Sir Mark Elder, who has held the position of artistic director since 2012. Sir Mark will step down in September 2019. Speaking of his work with the company, he commented: “My years as artistic director of Opera Rara have been enormously rewarding and I have now decided that it is time to hand on the baton. Bringing so many unknown operas to life has been challenging, but there is certainly an appetite for discovery among artists as much as the public. Opera Rara has an important role to play in that discovery, and I am so happy that my distinguished colleague Carlo Rizzi will continue the work of this remarkable organisation.”

Next year marks Opera Rizzi’s 50th anniversary. To celebrate the occasion the company will embark on an ambitious programme of new recordings and performances.

Chairman Charles Alexander and Chief Executive Henry Little said: “We welcome Carlo and in Opera Rara’s 50th anniversary year, we look forward to our collaboration with him with considerable enthusiasm and excitement. We extend our profound thanks to Sir Mark under whose outstanding artistic leadership, Opera Rara has enjoyed an era of unprecedented success and recognition.”



Italian conductor Carlo Rizzi performs at Quincena Musical de San Sebastián music festival in August 2013 (via Wikimedia Commons).