November 18, 2018
Russian-American conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya recently led the Chicago premiere of Iolanta, Tchaikovsky’s final opera, at Chicago Opera Theater.
Though Yankovskaya was appointed Music Director of COT in 2017, the 18/19 season opener marked her debut in the orchestra pit. Critics praised her leadership, citing it as a new beginning for Chicago Opera Theater.
“Yankovskaya…led a flexible and richly idiomatic account of this score. She showed clear sympathy with her compatriot’s music—keeping the music flowing through the unbroken 90 minutes, balancing deftly to bring out Tchaikovsky’s woodwind accents, and building lyric climaxes to resplendent payoffs.”
–Chicago Classical Review
“All follow Maestra Yankovskaya with ease, and she brings the piece to full flower…For anyone who has had recent doubts about the vitality of opera, it’s a pure tonic.”
–Chicagoland Musical Theatre
“Maestra Yankovskaya’s debut in the pit was promising and gratifying. She brought out all the pathos and grandness in the lush score, without ever overpowering the singers, quite an accomplishment in an intimate theater with such an exposed orchestra pit.”
–Buzz Center Stage
“Conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya in her company debut, [this is] a production that is as dazzling as it is emotionally and musically complex. Led by Yankovskaya, the orchestra’s music buoys each character’s journey.”
–Picture this Post
“Under the baton of Lidiya Yankovskaya, Tchaikovsky’s score became transcendent. With the thorough preparation of the score and empathy with the composer (both having Russian roots and then Western influences), she lovingly guided the singers and orchestra through every ebb and flow of the music, shifting from tenderness to passion, while keeping the pace of the opera moving ahead.”
“COT is going in the right direction. This show marks a new beginning for COT, especially with Lidiya Yankovskaya. The music-making was at such a high level, and the singing was so committed and engaged. I felt like I was hearing this opera for the first time – that this is fresh, this is new, and this is something I need to pay attention to.”
–Opera Box Score
“Lidiya Yankovskaya’s rapid rise among U.S.-based conductors of her generation seems to be driven as much by her exceptional talent as her eagerness to take on ambitious, out-of-the-way artistic projects. On Saturday, the 32-year-old Russian-American maestro made her official debut…conducting a fringe-repertory piece that’s close to her heart and place of origin: Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta. Yankovskaya’s supple command of musical shape and dramatic continuity was never in doubt. One can only hope COT’s new music director – a staunch champion of Russian opera in the 22 years since she arrived on these shores – will favor Chicago with more Russian rarities in the not-too-distant future.”