With his Teatro Real Madrid debut in May 2018, Michael Zlabinger made history as the youngest conductor of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten, having previously assisted with productions at the Salzburg Festival (2012), Zurich Opera House (2013) and Teatro alla Scala di Milano (2015). This career milestone continued his consistent engagement with the opera of the 20th century, which had already been reflected in his work on Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk 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).
This season, he successfully completed a series of guest performances of Arnold Schönberg’s Pierrot lunaire at the Holland Festival together with the Klangforum Vienna and under the direction of Marlene Monteiro Freitas, followed by a production of Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse at the Wiener Kammeroper and a broadcast with the Munich Radio Orchestra. Upcoming engagements include a concert series with festival:philharmonie Westfalen and a production of Richard Strauss’ Salome for the Festival international d’art lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence. In January 2022, Zlabinger made his Theater an der Wien debut conducting Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca.
After his first engagement at the Zurich Opera House as musical assistant to Christoph von Dohnányi for Schönberg’s Moses und Aron (2011), Michael Zlabinger jumped 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 spring 2016, he also demonstrated his experience in working with choirs as interim chorus master. In April 2015 he made his debut with Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore at the Daegu Opera House in South Korea, where he returned two years later to conduct Mozart’s Così fan tutte.
His collaborations with conductors such as Fabio Luisi, Ingo Metzmacher, Kent Nagano and Ralf Weikert have led Michael Zlabinger to work as musical assistant with the Berlin Philharmonic, the DSO Berlin for Schoenberg’s Jakobsleiter, the DR SymfoniOrkestret Copenhagen, the Bavarian State Opera, the Hamburg State Opera and the Vienna State Opera. At the Grand Théatre de Genève he was also responsible for the production of Richard Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen (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.
Parallel to his education 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) and conducting according to Hans Swarowsky’s principles. He also participated in master classes with Bernard Haitink and Pierre Boulez. One of the most important influences of his career has been the Viennese classic repertoire – particularly the masses of Haydn, Mozart and Schubert. Through his direction of the Vienna Church Music Ensemble Choir and Camerata Mariabrunn, he has successfully extended his repertoire to major works of sacred music, from Bach’s Johannespassion to Bruckner’s masses.
A busy concert schedule has taken the conductor to Belgium, Holland, Romania, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Ecuador, Switzerland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic where he has conducted the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna, the Lucerne Festival Strings, the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, the Orquesta sinfónica de Las Palmas, the Slovak State Philarmonic Orchestra Košice, the Filarmonia Oltenia and the Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice on the occasion of the Premio Paganini. Since 2018 Michael Zlabinger is also in close collaboration as guest conductor with the Orquesta sinfónica Nacional del Ecuador.