Nathalie Stutzmann takes the helm of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

The French conductor becomes the only woman to conduct a large American orchestra. Another welcome sign that shows that the tide is turning in the very masculine world of classical music.

For more than ten years, we have followed with passion the second life of conductor of contralto Nathalie Stutzmann. She first conducted by singing her baroque ensemble Orfeo 55, then concentrated on the great symphonic and lyrical repertoire, offering us in 2018, a dazzling Mefistofele, by Arrigo Boito, at the Chorégies d’Orange. Two months later, she took up her duties as permanent conductor at the Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra (Norway). On October 13, shortly before meeting her again at the Philharmonie de Paris with a splendid Symphony No.5 of Tchaikovsky, it was learned that she was appointed musical director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the only woman at the head of one of the twenty-five great American orchestras – the pioneer, Marin Alsop, having left this summer the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

The tide is turning

Not enough to rebalance a structurally misogynistic profession (in 2020 there were only 6% of women at the head of a large orchestra), but, definitely, the tide is turning. Oksana Lyniv, first guest conductor at the Bayreuth Festival in July 2021, has just been appointed musical director of the Bologna Municipal Theater – a small revolution for an Italian lyrical and symphonic institution. In August 2020, already, Joana Mallwitz created the event by directing So do all of them at the Salzburg Festival. In the process, France caught up with its own delay by entrusting the Orchester régional d’Avignon-Provence to Debora Waldman, the Orchester de Picardie to Johanna Malangré, the symphonic domain of the Toulon Opera to Marzena Diakun, and the Lorraine National Opera in Marta Gardolinska. Let’s dream a little: in ten years, the presence of women at the head of the great symphonic and lyric formations will have become so natural that we will be surprised that one day it could have been a subject in itself.

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