The Washington Opera Society (WOS) has named Julien Benichou as its new general and artistic director, replacing Michael Reilly, the society’s founder and executive director. Simon Charette, its assistant artistic director, is now general manager of the WOS.
The new appointments took effect Feb. 1. Hailed by New York City Ballet orchestra concertmaster Kurt Nikkanen as “one of the most interesting and accomplished conductors of his generation,” Benichou has accumulated years of valuable experience as music director of the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, the Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Southern Maryland Youth Symphony Orchestra.
He is a sought-after guest conductor in the U.S. as well as internationally with repeated invitations from Brazil’s Orquestra Sinfonica do Paraná, Russian State Symphonies in both St. Petersburg and Siberia, South Africa’s Free State Symphony and Monaco’s Monte Carlo Opera.
“We are delighted that Julien has agreed to accept this important position,” WOS President Alexandra N. Sényi said in a press release. “He combines charisma and a commitment to excellence. With both his technical skills and his ability to captivate the audience, the WOS is looking forward to many exciting seasons.”
Added Reilly: “Knowing that my friend Julien would be taking over the leadership of the WOS made my decision to step down much easier. He is extraordinarily talented and has my full support. I can’t think of anyone who would be better suited to fill that position.”
The Washington Opera Society, a 501©(3) tax-exempt nonprofit, presents operatic productions, with orchestra, at embassies, ambassadorial residences and other intimate venues that provide its audience with an opportunity to enjoy its artists in a unique, approachable setting in the Washington, D.C., area.
Led by honorary board chair Indira Gumarova, wife of Czech Ambassador Hynek Kmoníček, its performances feature world-renowned as well as emerging singers, orchestras and choruses—and it presents both familiar and lesser-known works by great composers.