Minnesota Opera names Christopher Franklin its new principal conductor

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Minnesota Opera has hired Christopher Franklin as the company’s new principal conductor, a position that’s been dormant since 2018. Franklin’s three-year contract starts with Gaetano Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love,” which runs from Jan. 27 to Feb. 4 at St. Paul’s Ordway Music Theater.

“Minnesota Opera is a company that I’ve had a long and fruitful relationship with for years and it seems like a natural development for our artistic paths to cross in this way,” Franklin said in a news release. “It’s an honor to be stepping into more regular collaboration with such a respected and forward-looking opera company and its wonderful artists.”

A Pittsburgh native, Franklin spent his summers in Minnesota growing up, as his father is from Willmar. He went on to graduate from St. Paul’s Macalester College in 1990 with a degree in violin and German literature. After earning subsequent degrees at the University of Illinois and the Peabody Conservatory, Franklin launched his conducting career in Italy, where he went on to win two conducting competitions.

Franklin has conducted at major European opera houses and festivals in Paris, Rome, Sydney, Tokyo, Vienna and Amsterdam. His 12-year history with Minnesota Opera began with “Cinderella” in 2011 and has included a variety of repertoire including the world premiere of “Doubt.”

In addition to conducting most performances through 2026, Franklin will also participate in the opera’s artistic planning team.

“It was critical for us to identify a principal conductor who approaches the work of both reimagining existing operas as well as developing new ones with equal care and curiosity, and we are thrilled to have found those qualities in Christopher,” said the opera’s president and general director Ryan Taylor.

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