Bio: LIONEL FRIEND, conductor
"Friend's pacing was beautifully judged, always enhancing the key dramatic moments. His intimate knowledge of the work ensured remarkable ensemble between singers and orchestra:" The Australian on Tristan and Isolde
A respected figure in both the opera house and on the concert platform, in recent seasons Lionel Friend has made debuts with Opera Australia (Arabella), Los Angeles Opera (Grendel), New Zealand Opera (Le nozze di Figaro), Royal Danish Opera (The Devils of Loudun, Porgy and Bess) and Polish National Opera (The Devils of Loudun, The Merchant of Venice), Welsh National Opera (The Merchant of Venice) and conducted Dallapiccola and Mozart at Frankfurt Opera. Acclaimed in Budapest for a concert of contemporary Hungarian orchestral works and in Norway for a programme of Berg, Webern and Zemlinsky as well as for a concert performance of Der fliegende Holländer with London Lyric Opera and the Royal Philharmonic in London, his current orchestral repertoire ranges from Haydn and Weber to Messiaen, Lutosławski and Britten.
Lionel Friend was educated at the Royal College of Music in London, where he won all the major conducting prizes. Following private study with Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt and Sir Colin Davis, he made his début conducting La traviata with Welsh National Opera and was conductor and chorus-master for Glyndebourne Festival Opera and Glyndebourne Touring Opera, specialising in Mozart. For three years he was Kapellmeister at the Staatstheater in Kassel, Germany.
On returning to the UK, for thirteen years Lionel Friend held the position of Staff Conductor to English National Opera, conducting more than thirty different productions, including the world première of David Blake's The Plumber’s Gift and working with such directors as Jonathan Miller, Joachim Herz, Götz Friedrich, Harry Kupfer, Richard Jones, Graham Vick and Keith Warner. At ENO he also assisted Charles Mackerras and Mark Elder as well as Reginald Goodall, a highly influential musician with whom Friend collaborated on all his Wagner productions in London.
For two years Lionel Friend was part of Daniel Barenboim's team for Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Bayreuth Festival and in 1992 was also his assistant with the Chicago Symphony in a major Mozart project. Until 1996, he was Music Director of New Sussex Opera: their productions of Der fliegende Holländer in 1988 and Tannhäuser in 1990 both won substantial critical acclaim. As Music Director of British Youth Opera since 2012 he has conducted productions of operas by Mozart, Janáček, Stravinsky, Judith Weir and Jonathan Dove.
As Music Director of Nexus Opera, he prepared a highly praised Curlew River (Britten) for the Bath Festival and subsequent BBC Television broadcasts and a Prom in the Royal Albert Hall. He has conducted opera for BBC Radio (including three further world premières), the Aldeburgh Festival, Radio France, Queen's Festival (Belfast), Netherlands Opera and Opera Northern Ireland. After making his début at La Monnaie in Brussels, when he was in charge of the European première of Jonathan Harvey's Inquest of Love, he returned there in subsequent seasons for Un ballo in maschera and Peter Grimes. After a notably successful first appearance with The Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1991, he joined them on their 1993 European Tour and for performances at the Met in New York the following year.
In addition to opera and ballet, Lionel Friend has also given concerts and recorded with many of Europe's principal symphony orchestras and choruses, as well as all the BBC orchestras and many others in the UK. He first appeared with the BBC Symphony at the Royal Festival Hall in 1984. Following his début with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1994 he was immediately re-invited for further concerts; and at Simon Rattle's invitation he conducted a number of programmes with the City of Birmingham Symphony. He has had a long-term relationship with the Nash Ensemble both in concert and recordings (including works by Schönberg, Debussy and Britten), and has recorded L’histoire du soldat with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Other recordings include CDs with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on the Hyperion label and the BBC Scottish Symphony on Marco Polo. In 2007 he conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in an operatic programme with the baritone Bryn Terfel.
Other engagements have included Schubert Fierrabras for Buxton Festival, Rigoletto for Teatro Municipal (Rio de Janeiro), Falstaff for Opera North (Leeds), Le nozze di Figaro in Belfast, La finta giardiniera in Holland, Madama Butterfly in Nebraska, a Ravel/Poulenc double-bill and The Turn of the Screw for Grange Park Opera, The Pearl Fishers for Portland Opera (USA) and Salome for English National Opera, London; symphony concerts in Germany, Belgium, Norway, Hungary and Australia. Recent premières have been Tavener's Let’s begin again at the Norwich Festival; Birtwistle's Pulse Shadows, The Woman and the Hare, Cantus Iambeus and Elliot Carter's Mosaic, all on London's South Bank; as well as works by Turnage, David Blake’s Scoring a Century and the revised version of Penderecki’s Die Teufel von Loudun at the Royal Danish Opera.
Lionel Friend has had many successes in Australia. Having been Assistant Conductor for South Australia's Ring cycles and Parsifal, he conducted a much-praised Götterdämmerung in 2003 at the Perth International Arts Festival, and in 2006 a highly acclaimed production of Tristan und Isolde with Susan Bullock for West Australian Opera. Early in 2008 he made his début with Opera Australia conducting Arabella and this success led to his nomination for a prestigious Helpmann Award for musical direction. In 2010 he conducted Le nozze di Figaro in New Zealand, and Hänsel und Gretel in Adelaide; and in 2011 returned to West Australian Opera for Les contes d’Hoffmann.
From 2003 to 2010 Lionel Friend was Conductor in Residence at the Birmingham Conservatoire, where he is now Conductor Emeritus. His final concert was a performance of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony: “Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra gave undoubtedly its finest performance in its long and busy history, when it performed nothing less than Mahler’s mighty, probing and technically demanding Sixth Symphony under the brilliantly clear conducting of Lionel Friend.” (Birmingham Post)
Last update: 2019-12-22 16:49:28 +00:00