David Pountney Artistic Director
David Pountney became internationally known through his production of Katya Kabanova at the 1972 Wexford Festival. Between 1975 and 1980, he was Director of Productions for Scottish Opera. Productions there featured a Janáček cycle in collaboration with Welsh National Opera. He directed the world premiere of David Blake’s Toussaint in 1977 (ENO) and went on to become ENO’s Director of Productions in 1980, directing over 20 operas. He has directed many world premieres, including three by Peter Maxwell Davies for which he also wrote the libretto, and has translated operas into English from Russian, Czech, German and Italian. As a freelance director from 1992 he worked regularly in Zurich, at Vienna State Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper as well as opera houses in America and Japan, and in the UK has a long-standing association with Opera North. He received a Janáček medal for his Janáček cycle in Wales and Scotland, and a Martinů medal for his productions of Julietta and Greek Passion (Opera North and Bregenz Festival). His productions have twice won an Olivier award. Recent engagements include Prince Igor, The Passenger (Houston and New York); Kommilitonen, his third opera written in collaboration with Peter Maxwell Davies (Royal Academy of Music and US premiere at the Juilliard School, New York); a new Philip Glass opera, Spüren der Verirrten, for the opening of a new opera house in Linz which won the Schickaneder Prize for best opera production in 2013, and Die Zauberflöte for the lake stage in Bregenz, where he has been Intendant since 2003. Between 2011-2015 he was Chief Executive and Artistic Director of WNO, and since December 2015 has been WNO Artistic Director. While at WNO he has directed Berg’s Lulu, Rossini’s Guillaume Tell and Mosè in Egitto. He is a CBE, a Chevalier in the French Ordre des Arts et Lettres, has the Cavalier’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and was awarded the Ehrenkreuz des Bundes Osterreich in 2014.
Leonora Thomson Managing Director
Leonora Thomson joined Welsh National Opera as Managing Director in December 2015. Prior to this she was Director of Audiences and Development at the Barbican Centre, Europe’s largest multi-arts centre, which is part of the City of London Corporation. She started at the Barbican in 2008 and led on the organisation’s relationship with its audiences through marketing and communications, front of house and box office, development and digital strategy; latterly she undertook a strategic planning process for the Centre.
She joined the Barbican in 2008 from the Metropolitan Police Service, where from 2007 to 2008 she was the manager of Ealing’s Extended Police Family – Community Support Officers, Volunteers, Special Constables and Cadets.
In the early 1990s she worked in international press and promotion for EMI Classics, then joined the BBC to run press and publicity for the Proms and Radio 3, going on to work as a Strategic Communications Adviser to BBC senior management on corporate issues.
From 1998 to 2006 she also served as a local councillor for the London Borough of Ealing, providing the political leadership for education and children’s social services, ending up as Deputy Leader then Leader of the Council. During that period she undertook a lot of consultancy, mentoring and training work for the Improvement & Development Agency, now part of the Local Government Association.
She has held several board positions; from 2008 to 2014 she was a board member at the Association of British Orchestra and also served on the board of the Mercury Theatre, Colchester. She is currently a board member of the National Campaign for the Arts.
She grew up in North Yorkshire, where her musician and teacher parents inspired her love of opera, and studied Philosophy at Leeds University.
Lothar Koenigs Music Director
Lothar Koenigs became Music Director of Welsh National Opera in 2009.
He was born in Aachen and studied piano and conducting in Cologne. From 1999 to 2003 he was Music Director in Osnabrück, Germany. Since 2003 his guest engagements have included the Vienna State Opera, the Metropolitan Opera New York, Munich, Dresden, La Scala, Hamburg, Brussels and Lyon in a wide repertoire ranging from Mozart to Berg, with a particular emphasis on the operas of Wagner, Strauss and Janáček.
He worked for the first time with the WNO Orchestra in January 2005, and was appointed to the position of Music Director in 2008, with effect from the beginning of the 2009/2010 season. In 2010 he conducted the company’s highly acclaimed new production of Die Meistersinger which he also led in a televised concert at the 2010 BBC Proms. Lothar Koenigs also appears each season with the WNO Orchestra in concert at St David’s Hall Cardiff.
Symphonic engagements include the Hallé, Beethoven Orchester Bonn, Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra Tokyo, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Radio Orchestra Saarbrücken, RAI Orchestra Turin, DSO Berlin, Orchestra dell´Accademia di Santa Cecilia Rome, Rotterdam Philharmonic; Orchestra Sinfonica de Sao Paulo; RAI Orchestra (Turin), Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin; Wiener Symphoniker; Dresden Philharmoniker in Verona; and concerts at the Tanglewood Festival.
Engagements have included Tristan und Isolde, Don Giovanni, Katya Kabanova, Fidelio, Ariadne auf Naxos, Turandot (WNO), Wozzeck, Ariadne auf Naxos and Lohengrin for the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, Elektra in La Monnaie, Mahagonny in Cologne as well as concert performances in the UK and Europe. In August 2012 he conducted a concert performance of Tristan und Isolde at the 2012 Edinburgh International Festival, and in summer 2013 he conducted Act 3 of Die Walküre with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Bryn Terfel at the Tanglewood Festival.