The newly appointed music director of Detroit Opera, Roberto Kalb is part of a leadership team that consists of artistic director Yuval Sharon, whom the New York Times has called “opera’s disruptor in residence,” and star soprano Christine Goerke, associate artistic director.
The Mexican-born conductor made multiple debuts in the 2022-2023 season, including with San Francisco Opera, Compañía Nacional de Ópera at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, San Diego Opera and Lyric Opera of Kansas City. He will lead the Civic Orchestra of Chicago in June.
At Detroit, Kalb is working to improve inclusivity. “It’s really paramount to the future of our art form,” Kalb said in a recent interview with the Detroit Free Press. “One of the biggest problems that audiences feel when they go to the opera is that they don’t feel included, involved or that they’re out of place. We’re really motivated to make opera really accessible and exciting, and bring it out to the community.
“The opera house should be a center where our lives are reflected. It needs to be a meeting point where we can connect with each other, when we are 3,000 people in an audience from every walk of life, every ethnicity. We all concentrate on one story that speaks to each and every one of us. And it’s not just to put opera on, it’s about getting the people to the opera house.”
In 2019, Kalb concluded his five-season tenure as resident conductor and head of music at Opera Theatre of St. Louis with a critically acclaimed run of Verdi’s Rigoletto with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, which Opera News lauded: “The orchestra sounded sublime under the baton of Roberto Kalb, whose buoyant conducting simultaneously led and followed the singers.”
The 2021-2022 season marked a debut with the Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier, as well as return collaborations with Wolf Trap Opera and the National Symphony Orchestra for La traviata, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis for the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s Awakenings.
Additional highlights include productions at the Michigan Opera Theatre, Florida Grand Opera, Tulsa Opera, Kentucky Opera and Opera Maine, as well as performances with the Orquesta Carlos Chavez in Mexico City and the Orquestra Sinfonica da USP in São Paulo. Kalb also worked as cover and assistant conductor for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto.
He is a recipient of the 2021 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Awards. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He is married to soprano Mané Galoyan.
Of Detroit Opera, he said, “I can’t imagine an opera company that is more in touch with what it means to produce opera for our modern-day audiences or one that is better attuned to its community.”