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Resident Conductor, San Diego Opera
Guest Conductor, Utah Festival Opera


keltner-200Maestro Karen Keltner, Resident Conductor of San Diego Opera has conducted many highly acclaimed productions. In the 2011 International Season she conducted Faust by Charles Gounod. She opened the 2010 Season with Puccini’s beloved La bohème, followed by a stellar Roméo et Juliette, and in 2009 she conducted Jules Massenet’s Don Quixote, featuring an all-star cast.

Past regular appearances with her home company include The Pearl Fishers (2008), the SDO premieres of Saint-Säens’ Samson and Delilah and Alban Berg’s Wozzeck (2007). Carmen, Così fan tutte, and Samuel Barber’s haunting Vanessa were her 2006 and 2005 offerings.

The maestro has conducted notable performances of many of San Diego Opera’s contemporary works by today’s eminent composers, among them the West Coast premiere of Tobias Picker’s Thérèse Raquin (2003), Carlisle Floyd’s Cold Sassy Tree (2002), André Previn’s Streetcar Named Desire(2001), Floyd’s Of Mice and Men (1999), Myron Fink’s The Conquistador (1997), and Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse (1986).

Mo. Keltner has conducted many other acclaimed productions in the standard repertoire. In 2002, she opened her 20th anniversary season with Verdi’s Rigoletto, closing in May 2002 with Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. In 1998 she opened the season with The Barber of Seville followed by a production of Richard Strauss’ Salome which marked a return of the opera to San Diego after an absence of thirty years. In 1997 she conducted The Italian Girl in Algiers. She has also conducted the following San Diego Opera productions: Die Fledermaus, The Merry Widow, La Périchole, Cenerentola, Don Pasquale, , The Elixir of Love, The Love for Three Oranges, The Medium, Amahl and the Night Visitors, and The Telephone, the last three both directed by the composer himself, Gian Carlo Menotti.

Maestro Keltner has appeared as guest conductor with opera companies in Europe and the North America. The stunning success of Previn’s Streetcar Named Desire in 2001 led to her European debut in December 2001 conducting four performances of Streetcar at L’Opera National du Rhin in Strasbourg, France and on tour in Mulhouse La Filature. Considered an expert on the Carlisle Floyd repertoire, having worked closely with the composer on numerous occasions, she made her debut with the Washington Opera at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC in October 2001 conducting Floyd’s Of Mice and Men which she also conducted earlier for Utah Opera. She has also conducted with Pittsburgh Opera (Lucia di Lammermoor, Barber), Glimmerglass Opera (Yeomen of the Guard), The Opera Company of Philadelphia (Salome), Seattle Opera (Hansel and Gretel), New York City Opera (La bohème), Vancouver (Canada) Opera (Of Mice and Men), and Manitoba Opera in Winnipeg (Canada) (Madama Butterfly). She has been a regular guest artist with Opera Carolina in Charlotte, NC, conducting among others, Carmen, Salome, Tosca, Cold Sassy Tree, and led Verdi’s Aida to inaugurate Charlotte’s new Opera House in 2002. Maestro Keltner also opened the 45th season of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City with performances of La bohème. Other guest appearances have been with Austin Lyric Opera, Utah Opera in Salt Lake City, Chautauqua Opera (NY), Orlando Opera (FL), Sacramento Opera, Nashville Opera where she returned in fall of 2004 to lead a double bill of Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine and The Lighthouse by Peter Maxwell Davies, and the Opera Theatre of Weston where among others, she premiered the Vermont performances of Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince, based on the beloved story by St. Exupéry. Keltner opened Syracuse Opera’s 25th Anniversary Season guest-conducting a much-lauded Aida and gave debut performances for Cincinnati Opera (Madama Butterfly) and Opera/Columbus (La Cenerentola). Keltner has also served as Principal Conductor of Anchorage (Alaska) Opera where she led performances of Il Barbiere, Don Giovanni, Die Zauberflöte , La sonnmabula, Rigoletto, and Lucia di Lammermoor. She was guest conductor at the University of Southern California for The Rape of Lucrezia, and joined the Eastman School of Music to conduct the Virgil Thompson/Gertrude Stein opera, The Mother of Us All in performances commemorating the 75th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which granted women in the United States the right to vote.

Summer 2011 marks Keltner’s fifteenth season with Utah Festival Opera where she has conducted, among others, Robert Ward’s The Crucible, and staples of the repertoire including La bohème, Il trovatore, Nabucco, Rigoletto, and Susannah, as well as many of the great American musicals: South Pacific, Carousel, Brigadoon, Fiddler on the Roof, Kismet, 1776, I Do, I Do, The Sound of Music, Man of La Mancha, Guys and Dolls, and Frank Loesser’s The Most Happy Fella. Utah’s 2011 summer season will see her at the helm of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov and the Dickens-turned-musical audience favorite, Oliver!

Karen Keltner, a native Hoosier from South Bend, Indiana, holds multiple degrees in French from Indiana University (where she earned her doctorate as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees) and the University of Strasbourg in France which awarded her with the Diplome superieur d’etudes francaises). Before coming to San Diego Opera, she was an instructor in the French department at Indiana University teaching French diction for singers at the School of Music and conducting multiple ensembles. From 1976 to 1980 Keltner was Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Central Florida.

She designed and received the first apprenticeship in conducting from the National Opera Institute in Washington, DC, and is a member of Opera America, the American Symphony Orchestra League, and the Conductor’s Guild. The conductor frequently gives master classes for singers and other students of opera in cities and universities where she guest conducts. In San Diego, she has served on the Board of Directors of Rachel’s Center, a day center providing services and support for homeless women, and in 2006 was honored by The Girls Scouts of America as one of its ten “Cool Women”.

Learn more about Maestro Keltner.


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