As Lina González-Granados made her way through the pit to the podium at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion last Saturday, the audience buzzed with an especially welcoming and animated applause. Appointed the Resident Conductor of the LA Opera last September, the evening was her debut appearance with the company, an opportunity to demonstrate the energy and presence she hopes to bring to the orchestra.
"Lucia di Lammermoor becomes indispensable, with tremendous modern-day relevance. González-Granados succeeds in leading a performance that expresses profound emotion, enhancing the cathartic effect of the opera."
In this LA Opera co-production with the Metropolitan Opera, the seventeenth-century Scottish setting of Lucia di Lammermoor, which is based on Sir Walter Scott’s novel, has been replaced by a kaleidoscopic vision of a present-day, depressed town in America’s rust belt.
"The new resident conductor, Lina González-Granados, formerly assistant conductor to Riccardo Muti at the Chicago Symphony, was in the pit and the LAO Orchestra was in good hands. The music sparkled, the singers were perfectly supported, and the tragic underpinnings of the famous score bristled."
For the season opener Lucia di Lammermoor, director Simon Stone set the seventeenth-century Scottish period piece in a present-day American Midwestern town fallen on hard times with drug and economic issues.
"L.A. Opera’s new resident conductor Lina González-Granados (born in Colombia) proves Mr. Porter right, turning Donizetti’s orchestral accompaniment into something taut and thrilling"
We had two very important debuts to look forward to in the form of our new resident conductor Lina Gonzalez-Granados and innovative stage director Simon Stone.
"Maestro Gonzalez-Granados not only led a fiercely exciting performance but managed to capture the dark sound in Donizetti’s orchestrations necessary to convey the growing sense of foreboding in the story. She never failed to provide sensitive and stylish accompaniment to her able cast, even offering beautiful rubato effects in some of those aforementioned repeats and strettas that highlighted both the singers and the music to their fullest."
González-Granados seemed right at home at the Bowl… a show of raw power, an aural force to glue you to your seat (or bench)…this “Scheherazade” came on strong and pretty much stayed that way.
The 36-year-old maestra, who makes her debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl on Aug. 11, has also racked up fistfuls of honors and rave reviews. OperaWire praised her “attention to orchestral colors,” while The Boston Musical Intelligencer commended her ability to create “lightning changes in tempo, meter, and effect.”
[González-Granados] emphasized the lyrical sweep of Beethoven’s music, integrating its shifting emotions into a cohesive whole... and the soaring, romantic melodies of Brahms’s Symphony No. 1 were an ideal showcase for Gonzalez-Granados’s ability to sculpt rich, heartfelt orchestral sound.
Now, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has its very own “last minute hero” story, too. Her name is Lina Gonzalez-Granados. And she was the winner of the fourth Chicago Symphony Orchestra Sir Georg Solti Conducting Competition. She served for a year as the Solti conducting apprentice under the guidance of maestro Riccardo Muti.
At once seductive and grandiose, Brahms drives this symphony to a heated finale, and the CSO musicians and Gonzalez-Granados (who was met with many rounds of enthusiastic applause), were with the composer every step of the way.
Review: Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lina González-Granados Exhibit Brilliance With the CSO
With only a few hours notice, the Colombian-American conductor González-Granados clicked with the orchestra, as if she’d been performing with them for years. The CSO helped by bringing its best playing, which was evident from the quiet opening of Beethoven’s violin concerto. As the section chairs traded the melody, which built as instruments joined the conversation, the playing was crisp and tight—no ragged edges at all. While the tempo was a bit slower than I like, their warmth was soulfully infectious. González-Granados built this into a lovely aural fabric... González-Granados seized on the Brahms immediately by entering the stage and starting things with barely a pause. The orchestra continued its fabulous night from the opening notes. Especially effective was the clarity each section showed when in the limelight, and then blending into the sound when a different section came to the fore. González-Granados was very much a part of the action, her arms swaying to the sounds while engaging each section.
The version was excellent: precise, passionate and with very clear ideas, carefully planned and executed. It was, therefore, a pleasant surprise that level of commitment in the first work of the program and, above all, the affinity of the director with this repertoire, which can provide stupendous interpretations.
The Colombian director Lina González-Granados showed confidence and maturity in the overture "The Force of Destiny", which opened the program. A very clear vision of this excellently made Verdi model.
With Riccardo Muti forced to withdraw from this weekend’s series of concerts, Lina González-Granados became the first Latina to conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
…(Lina Gonzalez Granados) delivered clean, efficient performances of both selections and demonstrated a feel for the theatrical flair that is essential to both. With expansive, fluid gestures, she found the fun and whimsy in the “Barber” overture and brought it to a suitably boisterous conclusion but seemed most at home in the “Don Giovanni”, giving shape to its out-sized emotions.
The American-Colombian also came in third place in the list of La Maestra, the first competition reserved for female conductors, organized by the Philharmonie de Paris and the Paris Mozart Orchestra founded and directed by Claire Gibault.
Latinos in general have played an important role in the society of LA, and it's time for Latinas in general to take leadership. There are not that many [Latinas] in those positions of leadership culturally. I think it's just a huge responsibility. Hopefully, by me getting these accolades and this post, more Latinas are inspired. This is a real measurement of change that is happening.
The award-winning conductor is a strong believer that all music has potential to be a classical piece. "In L.A. in general, it's a city with such an explosion of multicultural resources. Our musics are as valuable as our beings," said Gonzalez-Granados.
Bryant Park Picnic Performances season of free, ticketed live performances will begin on June 9 at 7pm with a show featuring the New York Philharmonic's 25+ member orchestra. Additional performances are scheduled for June 10, 11 and 12.
Lina is one of ten conductors awarded a Career Assistance Award from the Solti Foundation US. These grants are given each year to young American conductors early in their careers who have chosen to follow a path similar to the legendary Sir Georg Solti.
Giving their perspective on the music industry and an insight into their own experiences, the eight conductors below will throughout the day share with us their hopes for encouraging more women into the profession.