Karen Kamensek, born in Chicago, is equally at home on the opera and concert stages. Her broad range of interests and her varied work extend from classical to modern, including many world premieres, film music and crossover projects (jazz and world music).
A specialist in contemporary music, she regularly works with the American composer Philip Glass, whose Orphée she conducted in New York and Germany, as well as Glass’s world premiere of Les Enfants Terribles at the Spoleto Festival USA. Most recently she conducted Glass’ Satyagraha and the successful new production of Glass’ Akhnaten at the ENO, as well as Glass’ Passages with Anoushka Shankar at the BBC Proms and at the Philharmonie de Paris. In the 2019/20 season she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera with Glass’ Akhnaten.
In 2019/20 Karen Kamensek returned to the Gothenburg Opera house with a production of La Bohème and conducted the Polish Radio Orchestra and the Hungarian National Orchestra. Further concert engagements led her to Malmö and Nantes.
In 2018/19 she returned to the Royal Swedish Opera after the successful world premiere of Dracula with the same piece, as well as to the ENO with Akhnaten. Furthermore she conducted Heggie’s Dead Man Walking at the Welsh National Opera and Bernstein’s Candide at the Bergen National Opera.
Concert invitations led Karen Kamensek a.o. to Oslo Philharmonic, Stockholm Philharmonic, Bergen Philharmonic, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Tonkünstler Orchestra, Dortmunder Philharmoniker, Orchester National Bordeaux, Orchester Philharmonique de Marseille, Bruckner Orchestra Linz, Duisburg Philharmonic, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Monterey Symphony, Odense Symphony Orchestra, Orchester de Chambre de Lausanne, Orchestre Chambre de Paris, Orchester National de Montpellier, MDR Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra Leipzig, ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna, Hamburg Philharmonic, Philharmonic Orchestra Freiburg, Philharmonic State Orchestra Brunswick, Philharmonic, Staatsorchester Halle, San Antonio Symphony, Symphony Orchestra Basel, Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra Ljubljana and Symphony Silicon Valley Orchestra.
Also in-demand as an opera conductor, Kamensek has guest conducted at many important opera houses around the world including such auspices as the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Frankfurt Opera, Gothenburg Opera, Israeli Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Australia, Royal Danish Opera, San Diego Opera, San Francisco Opera, and the Vienna Volksoper. Particular highlights of her operatic career include such productions as Britten’s Death in Venice, Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, Floyd’s Susannah, Lehár’s The Merry Widow, Leoncavallos I Pagliacci, Masgni’s Cavalleria rusticana, Mussorgsky’s Boris Gudonov, Puccini’s Tosca, Verdi’s Otello, and Wagner’s Lohengrin.
Kamensek was First Kapellmeister at the Vienna Volksoper from 200 to 2022, and Generalmusikdirector at the Theater Freiburg from 2003 to 2006, after which she took on the position of interim Chief Conductor of the Slovenian National Theater in Maribor in the 2007/08 season. Beginning in 2008 Kamensek served as deputy-Generalmusikdirector at the Hamburg State Opera before becoming Generalmusikdirektor an Chief Conductor of the Hanover State Opera in 2011. She led the opera in Hanover until 2016, and during her tenure she conducted numerous new productions including Shostakovich’s Lady MacBeth of the Mtsensk District, Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Puccini’s Il trittico, Detlev Glanert’s Caligula, and Janacek’s Jenufa.