Scion of the great Russian conducting tradition, Mikhail Agrest has honed his craft at the Mariinsky Theatre for over a decade, acquiring a considerable body of operatic and symphonic repertoire and gaining crucial insights into orchestra development and artistic leadership. Simultaneously, he forged meaningful artistic relationships with a number of the world’s premiere ensembles.
The 2016-2017 season will see further projects with Semperoper Dresden, conducting Weinberger’s Švanda dudák and Verdi's La Traviata. In addition, Mr. Agrest will make his anticipated Canadian debut with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and further European engagements include conducting the Bremer Philharmoniker and Sudwestdeutsche Philharmonie Konstanz, Germany. The triumph of Agrest's La bohème at Finnish National Opera, with whom he has collaborated for numerous seasons, led to an invitation to conduct a new production of Eugene Onegin in 2017. On top of this, an immediate re-engagement invitation to return to Seattle Symphony following his debut with the orchestra last year will feature during the 2016-2017 season.
Mr. Agrest’s appearance at the Metropolitan Opera in 2003 conducting the Mariinsky Theatre in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezhsparked keen interest within the global opera community. He went on to lead a production of Tosca at the Swedish National Opera, Don Giovanni at Opera Australia, as well as the award-winning new production of Jenufa at the English National Opera, directed by David Alden.
The following passage from The Herald of Scotland offers a good summary of his reviews by the UK critics: “Agrest conducted a concert that progressed from intriguing to alluring to utterly gripping… the sheer musical tension was riveting. More of Mikhail Agrest, please.” His collaboration with the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden so far consisted of three well-received productions: Le Sacre du Printemps, Les Noces, and Romeo and Juliette. His work with the BBC Symphony dates back to 2007 and includes a Gubaidulina Festival at the Barbican as well as a recording of Rodion Shchedrin’s Concerto Parlando.
Following the success of a Shostakovich, Prokofiev and R. Strauss program with Staatskapelle Dresden in 2013, Mr. Agrest was invited to conduct La Traviata at Semperoper and to lead a new production of Shostakovich’sMoscow-Cheryomushki, directed by Christiane Mielitz. “Nobody left the performance without having a tune stuck in their head,” reported Neue Musikzeitung. Maestro Agrest has been collaborating with Dresdner Philharmonie since 2008, and enjoys repeat invitations from London Philharmonic Orchestra and Seattle Symphony, where his debut was praised by The Seattle times: “[The] program’s real surprise, however, was Agrest’s conducting – a performance of such inspired passion that the players were practically jolted out of their chairs. He conducted like a man possessed, as if lives depended on the outcome, and the energy and commitment of his music-making were positively operatic.”
Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Mr. Agrest immigrated to the United States with his family as a teenager and received a degree in violin performance from the Indiana University at Bloomington. He then followed his true passion back to St. Petersburg to study conducting from the legendary Ilya Musin, whose other alumni include Valery Gergiev, Yuri Temirkanov, and Semyon Bychkov.
Born in Leningrad. He began his music studies as a violinist at the School of the Leningrad State Conservatory. He and his family emigrated to the USA in 1989 where he studied for a bachelor’s degree under Josef Gingold at the Indiana University School of Music. He later returned to St Petersburg where he studied at the opera and symphony conducting department of the St.Petersburg State Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory (class of Professor Ilya Musin and Mariss Jansons). In the summer of 2000 and 2001 he trained at the Aspen Music Festival’s American Academy of Conducting under David Zinman and Jorma Panula.
Mikhail is Prize-winner of the International Antonio Pedrotti Conducting Competition (Italy, 2001) and of the Dimitri Mitropoulos Conducting Competition (Greece, 2002).
Mikhail Agrest joined the Mariinsky Theatre in 2001. He conducts the operas «A Life for the Tsar», «The Snow Maiden», «The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevronia», «Sadko», «Oedipus Rex», «Le Rossignol», «The Fiery Angel», «Lucia di Lammermoor», «La bohème», «Il trittico», «Cleopatra» and «Così fan tutte» and the ballets «La Sylphide», «Giselle», «Le Corsaire», «Swan Lake», «Don Quixote», «The Firebird», «Pétrouchka», «Le Sacre du printemps», «Apollo», «Prodigal Son», «Jewels», «La Valse», «The Four Temperaments», «Romeo and Juliet», «Manon», «Cinderella» and «The Nutcracker».
In July 2003 with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Mikhail Agrest made his Metropolitan Opera debut with Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera «The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and Maiden Fevronia» and his debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, with the ballets «Le Sacre du printemps» and «Les Noces».
In 2005 and 2006 he collaborated with London’s Royal Ballet, conducting «Romeo and Juliet», «Le Sacre du printemps» and «L’Histoire du soldat».
In 2005 he appeared with Leipzig’s Gewandhaus Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. The same year took place his debuts with the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva (Switzerland) and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (USA).
In October 2006 English National Opera premiered a new production of Janáček’s opera Jenůfa under Mikhail Agrest (production by David Alden).
2007 – concerts with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (Great Britain), Malmö (Sweden), the BBC London Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonic Orchestras of Helsinki (Finland) and Radio France together with Olga Borodina. in May 2007 he appeared with the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Hungary as well as the orchestras of Irish and Danish Radio.
In 2008, Mikhail Agrest conducted performance of «Don Giovanni» with the Australian Opera and the Rake’s Progress for the Opera de Oviedo, during the summer 2009 was made a new production of «La traviata» by Jonathan Miller for the Glimmerglass Opera. He has also conducted the orchestras of the Komische Oper in Berlin, the Opéra de Lyons and the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples.