David Charles Abell - Conductor

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Born in North Carolina David studied with Leonard Bernstein and Nadia Boulanger, gaining degrees from Yale and the Juilliard School. Intensive study of viola, piano & composition gave way to a concentration on conducting from the age of fourteen.

David has conducted many of the top British orchestras, including the LSO, LPO, the CBSO, RLPO, The Hallé, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. His Royal Philharmonic debut was the internationally-televised Les Misérables Tenth Anniversary Concert, and he has since appeared with the orchestra in repertoire ranging from Copland to Puccini and Kern.

Most recently, David conducted two new productions of Kiss Me, Kate for both Opera North and Théâtre du Châtelet/Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, the hugely-acclaimed Sweeney Todd at English National Opera (starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson), and a new production of Fiddler on the Roof for Grange Park Opera and the BBC Proms, also starring Bryn Terfel.  In the US, he has been busy with productions of Silent Night for Michigan Opera Theatre, Die Fledermaus for Cincinnati Opera and Carmen for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, as well as a return to the Philly Pops.  He has also conducted the French premieres of four Sondheim musicals: Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods at the Châtelet in Paris and Follies at the Opéra de Toulon. He conducted the world premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies in London’s West End, as well as the Les Misérables 25th Anniversary spectacular at the O2, telecast worldwide.

His operatic credits include also include Porgy and Bess for Cincinnati Opera and Cape Town Opera, Kevin Puts’ Silent Night for Cincinnati Opera and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Rossini’s La gazza ladra for Opera North, Carmen and Madama Butterfly at the Royal Albert Hall and Rigoletto and Manon Lescaut at Sicily’s Luglio Musicale Trapanese. For his work on Menotti’s Maria Golovin, at the Spoleto Festival in Italy, he received the Pegasus Prize for artistic achievement.

David made his BBC Proms debut conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra in a live telecast of Richard Rodgers’ Oklahoma! and has conducted at the festival several times, including the Stephen Sondheim 80th birthday celebration in 2010, the ‘War Horse Prom’ in 2014 and Fiddler on the Roof in 2015. He has worked with the Concert Orchestra on many other occasions, most recently for the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Laurence Olivier Awards Ceremony. His work with the BBC Symphony Orchestra includes Bliss’ Morning Heroes at the Brighton Festival and a studio concert of music by his mentor, Leonard Bernstein. David has also worked with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, twice conducting Proms in the Park (broadcast live on BBC television) as well as Copland’s Third Symphony in Swansea. His performance with Peter Donohoe of the Gershwin Concerto in F from Swansea was featured in BBC Music Magazine.

David’s TV projects have included Rachel Portman’s opera The Little Prince and The Waltz King, a drama/documentary about the Johann Strausses, father and son (both subsequently released on DVD). Recordings include Jonathan Dove’s Tobias and the Angel, the musicals Miss Saigon, Martin Guerre and Man of La Mancha and highlights from La Bohème and Madama Butterfly with the RPO.

His current projects include Carousel for English National Opera, running until May 2017, Die Zauberflöte for Opera Philadelphia, Rigoletto for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and a return to the BBC Symphony Orchestra for a Bernstein Songfest celebration at the start of 2018.

The chorus is spirited, buttressed by some terrific dancing, and the BBC Concert Orchestra plays expertly under the spry baton of David Charles Abell. The performance is refreshingly unmiked, and all the better for it – Rupert Christiansen (Daily Telegraph) 5th June 2015

Fiddler on the Roof (3)

The inspiring conductor, David Charles Abell, has researched period orchestrations and the BBC Concert Orchestra plays them with brilliant detail. Here is the first success of the country-house opera season. It will be difficult to beat it – Richard Fairman (Financial Times) 7th June 2015.

Fiddler on the Roof (2)

David Charles Abell conducts a vigorous account of a score whose best numbers come in the first act; to add to the aural pleasure of the evening the original, large-scale orchestrations – unthinkable in a commercial revival these days – are vividly conveyed by the BBC Concert Orchestra, and there are no microphones – George Hall (Guardian) 5th June 2015

Fiddler on the Roof (1)

Il direttore americano David Charles Abell, avvezzo in misura eguale all’opera come al musical, si impegna a farla risaltare al massimo, cogliendone i delicati colori strumentali, sostenendone gli squarci melodici e accentuandone i momenti corali, perfettamente assecondato da un’Orchestre Philarmonique de Radio France decisamente in stato di grazia – http://www.operaclick.com/editoriali/alla-ricerca-dello-spettacolo-perduto

– Operaclick 6 January 2014

Sunday in the Park with George

L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, que dirige avec feu David Charles Abell – on vient d’applaudir le chef américain a l’Opéra de Toulon, pour Follies du meme Sondheim – met en valeur cette partition élégante: a la fete, il jette toutes ses forces dans une bataille qui est loin d’etre gagnée d’avance.

Opéra Magazine – May 2013 (Bruno Villien)

Sunday in the Park with George – Theatre du Chatelet