Robert Spano to Lead Washington National Opera as Music Director

The conductor Robert Spano, who won acclaim as a champion of contemporary music during his two decades at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, will serve as Washington National Opera’s next music director, the company announced on Tuesday.

Spano, 62, will become music director designate effectively immediately and begin a three-year term with the company in 2025, succeeding Philippe Auguin, who stepped down in 2018 after his contract was not renewed.

Spano, who serves as music director of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in Texas, said in an interview that he had been eager to do more opera since leaving his post as music director in Atlanta in 2021. He said that he wanted to “carry opera into the future” and that he planned to promote contemporary works, as he did in Atlanta.

“New work and masterpieces — they go hand in hand,” he said. “I’ve lived my life in music feeling like the works of living composers inform our understanding of the works of the past. They keep reinvigorating our understanding of these masterpieces.”

Timothy O’Leary, the general director of Washington National Opera, said in an interview that he was impressed by Spano’s experience and fresh perspective on opera.

“He’s got this track record of conducting the major standard works in the opera repertoire,” he said, “but he’s also really identified with championing new music and the next generation of creators.”

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