With his debut at the Teatro Real Madrid in May 2018 with Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten (The Soldiers), Michael Zlabinger has become the youngest conductor in the performance history of this 20th century masterpiece, having assisted at previous productions at the Salzburg Festival (2012), Zurich Opera House (2013) and Milan’s Scala (2015).
This milestone in his career continues his constant preocupation with the opera of the 20th century, which has already been reflected in his work on Lady Macbeth von Mzensk at the Vienna State Opera (2015), Salome at the Teatro Carlo Felice (2016) and Elektra at the opening of the new opera house in Athens (2017).
After his first engagement at the Zurich Opera House as musical assistant to Christoph von Dohnányi for the new production of Schönberg’s Moses and Aron (2011), Michael Zlabinger successfully stood in for the premiere of Marius Felix Lange’s opera Das Gespenst von Canterville in November 2013 and subsequently conducted the ballet evening Notations, the adventure opera Robin Hood by Frank Schwemmer and the ballet Woyzeck (choreography: Christian Spuck). In April 2015 he made his debut with Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore at the Daegu Opera House in South Korea, where he was invited back two years later to conduct Mozart’s Così fan tutte.
His collaboration with conductors such as Fabio Luisi, Marc Albrecht, Ingo Metzmacher and Ralf Weikert has led Michael Zlabinger to work as musical assistant to the Berlin Philharmonic, the DSO Berlin for Schoenberg’s Jacob’s Ladder, the DR SymfoniOrkestret Copenhagen and the Vienna State Opera for the world premiere of Johannes Maria Staud’s Die Weiden (2018). At the Grand Théatre de Genève he was also responsible for the production of Richard Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung (2013/14); Wagner’s oeuvre had already become a major focus of Zlabinger’s repertoire through his work on Parsifal, Lohengrin, Tristan und Isolde and Tannhäuser during the Wagner Days Wels.
Since the beginning of his career, Michael’s interest in Viennese classical works has been influential – especially the great mass compositions of Haydn, Mozart and Schubert . With the Vienna Church Music Ensemble Choir and Camerata Mariabrunn, which he has conducted for more than fifteen years, he has been able to extend this repertoire to major works of sacred music, from Bach’s St. John Passion to Bruckner’s masses. In spring 2016, he also successfully demonstrated his rich experience in working with choirs as interim choir director at the Zurich Opera House for the new productions of Rihm’s Hamlet Machine, Purcell’s King Arthur and the revivals of Don Pasquale, The Flying Dutchman and Rigoletto.
Parallel to his studies at the Lucerne University of Music and Performing Arts and at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Michael Zlabinger completed several years of private studies with Manfred Huss in historical performance practice (among others as a member of the Haydn Sinfonietta Wien, Artistic Director Manfred Huss) and conducting after Hans Swarowsky’s principles.
In addition to master classes with Bernard Haitink and Pierre Boulez, Michael Zlabinger participated in projects of the New World Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas in Miami Beach in 2013 as a scholarship holder of the Austrian Ministry for Education, Culture and the Arts. After completing his studies with distinction, he gained his first experience as a stage music conductor, maestro suggeritore and musical assistant at the Vienna Volksoper with Salome, Madama Butterfly, Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Hänsel und Gretel and Gianni Schicchi.
A busy concert schedule has taken the young conductor to Belgium, Holland, Romania, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Ecuador, Switzerland and Slovakia, where he has conducted the Lucerne Festival Strings, the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, the Orquesta sinfónica de Las Palmas, the Filarmonia Oltenia and the Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice on the occasion of the Premio Paganini. After a successful debut with the Orquesta sinfónica Nacional del Ecuador in January 2018, Zlabinger was invited back to conduct the 2019 New Year’s Concert in Quito. Shortly thereafter he took over on short notice the the world premiere of Ľubica Čekovskás Cantus simplicissimus with the Košice State Symphony Orchestra.