Ukrainian Oksana Lyniv, one of the world’s most thrilling classical music talents, made history once again with a three-year posting at Bologna’s Teatro Comunale. With her new job, which started this month, the superstar conductor has become the first female to ever be appointed as musical director of an Italian opera house.
“I have the honour and responsibility to become the first woman to be invited to become the musical director of one of the most important Italian state theatres, in a country where classical music has an extraordinary history that is felt in every corner and is an integral part of the national culture,” the recently married Lyniv commented on social media.
This isn’t the first time Lyniv, who was initially surprised that she would be the first female conducting an Italian opera house, has made headlines for breaking ground and testing gender stereotypes. The Brody native, who has made it a goal to get more youngsters enticed by opera during her tenure, became the first woman to be appointed as chief conductor of Austria’s Graz Opera and the Graz Philharmonic Orchestra. She held the title until 2020, and then went on to strengthen her position as a global star by becoming the first female conductor to ever open Germany’s Bayreuth opera festival. While at the 145-year-old festival, she enraptured the star-studded audience, which included the former German chancellor Angela Merkel, while conducting the “Flying Dutchman,” a piece by the founder of the festival, Richard Wagner.
The trailblazing 43-year-old’s first opera production at Teatro Comunale, which has hosted great composers like Verdi and Bellini, will be “Andrea Chénier” by Umberto Giordano. Lyniv will also conduct music by some of her favourite composers, including Wagner, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Richard Strauss and her compatriot, Boris Lyatoshinsky.
Lyniv, who was Associate Chief Conductor of the Odessa National Opera from 2008 to 2013, actually made her first appearance there in March 2021. She was a guest conductor at a concert, performed without an audience due to the pandemic. Lyniv, who has also worked at the Bavarian State Opera, returned months later to Bologna to perform before a full house.
All the impressive work has seen Lyniv receive Conductor of the Year at Germany’s prestigious Oper! Awards, as well as the Order of Princess Olga. Her string of accolades and awards also includes the 2021 Saxon Mozart Prize, which she received with the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine. It’s an ensemble she formed in 2016 with an aim to bring young musicians from across Ukraine together and help unite the country. Interestingly, Lyniv is also the founder of the LvivMozArt music festival, inspired by Mozart.
Lyniv, who has even merited the creation of a Barbie doll in her likeness, was born into a family of musicians in what was Soviet Ukraine. Musical instruments like piano, flute, violin and singing were all part of her youth, and starting from 1992, she studied flute and conducting at the Stanislav Liudkevych Music School in Lviv for four years. After the first time she conducted at the age of 16, her interest blossomed, and she went on to attend Lviv’s Lysenko Music Academy, all during a time the field was dominated by males. Her rise to prominence began while studying there, and as a young prodigy she was able to get work as an assistant conductor at Lviv Opera House, granting her exposure. Lyniv moved to Germany to continue her studies and the only way has been up since then.