Chorus master Nally to leave the Lyric Opera

Tue Jul 27, 2010 at 7:36 am

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Donald Nally

Less than three weeks after general director Bill Mason announced his retirement, comes word that the Lyric Opera of Chicago is losing another key leadership role with the departure of Donald Nally.

Nally, chorus master of the Lyric since 2007, will leave the company next year at the end of the 2010-2011 season.

“I’m going to concentrate on my group in Philadelphia, said Nally of The Crossing, the choral ensemble that performs new music exclusively. “I really want to do more conducting and less preparing.”

The Lyric Opera Chorus has largely maintained the high reputation it has historically enjoyed, since Nally took the reins from Donald Palumbo three years ago. In a released statement by the company, Mason said Nally had done “an exceptional job” for Lyric and singled out his work in John Adams’ Doctor Atomic and Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust last season.

Nally said that his Lyric duties essentially amount to “eight months of preparation.” “All that time, I’m not conducting,” he said. “It’s a specific skill set and it’s one I’ve been doing for a long time. I’m going to turn 50 in December, and it’s a good time to re-evaluate.”

Nally said that the increasing acclaim and recordings of The Crossing, made him decide to concentrate more on his work in Philadelphia as well as in Cincinnati, where he also leads VAE, the Cincinnati Vocal Arts ensemble.

While he’s eager to spend more time on the podium and less in the rehearsal hall, Nally says he remains enthusiastic about his work in the Lyric Opera’s upcoming season, which will be last with the company. “I’ve never done a Lohengrin before, so this will be fun.”

The Lyric Opera will begin the search for a new chorus master immediately, said Mason.

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