Michael Christie is a thoughtfully innovative conductor, equally at home in the symphonic and opera worlds, who is focused on making the audience experience at his performances entertaining, enlightening, and enriching. The New York Times reports, “Michael Christie is a director open to adventure and challenge,” and the Cincinnati Enquirer declares, “If Michael Christie represents the future of music in this country, the future looks promising indeed.”
Christie, who was featured in Opera News in August 2012 as one of 25 people believed to “break out and become major forces in the field in the coming decade,” began his tenure as the first-ever Music Director of the Minnesota Opera with the 2012-13 season.
Performance highlights for the 2017-18 season include the world premiere of An American Soldier, a two-act opera by Huang Ruo, with Opera Theatre of St. Louis and engagements with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Rhode Island Philharmonic, and Santa Rosa Symphony. At the Minnesota Opera, he will lead productions of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, and Verdi’s Rigoletto.
Deeply committed to bringing new works to life, Michael Christie has championed commissions by leading and emerging composers alike, including Mark Adamo, Mason Bates, Michael Daugherty, Osvaldo Golijov, Mark Grey, Daron Hagen, Matthew Hindson, Marjan Mozetich, Stephen Paulus, Kevin Puts, and more. In 2017, Christie led the world premiere performances of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs by Mason Bates with Santa Fe Opera “with suave assurance” as praised by the San Francisco Chronicle, with “precision and pizzazz” by the Santa Fe New Mexican, and “preside[d] over an expertly executed performance,” according to The Financial Times.
In 2011, Christie led the Minnesota Opera in the world premiere performances of Kevin Puts’ Silent Night, which was awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Anthony Tommasini praised his “supple pacing and vitality” in The New York Times when Christie led the work in 2013 with Opera Company of Philadelphia. He conducted the European premiere of the opera in October 2014 at the Wexford Festival Opera in Ireland, and led the opera again in May 2015 with the Opéra de Montréal.
Other recent highlights include Christie’s San Francisco Opera debut in the world premiere performances of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene; the world premiere of Twenty-Seven, a new opera by Ricky Ian Gordon commissioned by Opera Theatre of St. Louis; and the world premieres of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec’s opera The Shining, based on the novel by Stephen King, and Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell’s new opera, The Manchurian Candidate, at the Minnesota Opera. Notable past performances include highly praised productions of Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles and John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer, and the North American premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland, all with Opera Theatre of St. Louis; the European premieres of The Ghosts of Versailles at the Wexford Festival Opera; as well as various performances at Opernhaus Zürich, Finnish National Opera, Scottish Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Christie’s nearly 20-year symphonic conducting career has included serving as Music Director of the Phoenix Symphony (2005-2013) and Brooklyn Philharmonic (2005-2010), and as Chief Conductor of the Queensland Orchestra (2001-2004) in Australia, as well as guest appearances leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and the Symphonies of Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta, Houston, Minnesota, Oregon, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati. Christie’s many European engagements have included leading the Rotterdam Philharmonic, DSO Berlin, Orchestre National de Lille, Swedish and Netherlands Radio Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony, NDR Hannover Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic. In addition, Christie enjoys a strong profile in Australia, where he has conducted the Sydney Symphony, Tasmanian Symphony, Opera Queensland, and the Western Australian Symphony in Perth.
Christie’s New York Philharmonic debut came in 2007 when he stepped in on short notice for an ailing Riccardo Muti, and his Carnegie Hall debut came in 2014 when he led the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the Spring for Music festival. Christie also served as the Music Director of the Colorado Music Festival from 2000-2013, where he was highly praised for his innovative programming and where audiences are now at an all-time high, resulting in him being named “Musician of the Year” by The Denver Post in 2010.
Michael Christie first came to international attention in 1995 when he was awarded a special prize for “Outstanding Potential” at the First International Sibelius Conductors’ Competition in Helsinki. Following the competition, he was invited to become an apprentice conductor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra where he subsequently worked with Daniel Barenboim as well as at the Berlin State Opera during the 1996-1997 season. Christie graduated from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music with a bachelor's degree in trumpet performance.
Christie lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Alexis, a physician, and their two children. A licensed pilot for over 15 years, Christie often flies his Mooney Airplane Company single engine aircraft to his conducting engagements across the U.S. He volunteers for Angel Flight Central, flying people in need with serious medical issues to receive care.
For more information, visit www.michaelchristieonline.com.
“A champion of fresh work” – The Denver Post
“Michael Christie conducted with remarkable precision and flair.” – Chicago Tribune
“A top notch conductor of new works” – St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Conductor Michael Christie melds fire and ice.” – Star Tribune
“His conducting…revealed total emotional conviction, natural long-line phrasing, and mastery of orchestral color.” – Musical America
“Michael Christie conducted with splendid brio and welcome crispness.” – Opera News
“Michael Christie is a director open to adventure and challenge” – The New York Times
“If Michael Christie represents the future of music in this country, the future looks promising indeed.” – Cincinnati Enquirer
“And Bates’ score, led with suave assurance by conductor Michael Christie, constantly finds ways to encapsulate a character or a dramatic situation that are accessible but rarely obvious.” – San Francisco Chronicle
“Wei Wu sings well as Jobs’s Buddhist mentor Köbun, whose wisecracks undermine his supposed function, Jessica E. Jones sings exquisitely as the mother of Jobs’s child, and Michael Christie presides over an expertly executed performance. Santa Fe Opera has a hit on its hands.” – Financial Times
“Michael Christie, Minnesota Opera’s music director and chief conductor, presided in the pit last Saturday night, giving careful guidance to the pulsating yet delicate electro-acoustic score by 40-year-old Mason Bates, recently named the most-performed composer of his generation.” – Minnesota Post
“Michael Christie conducted with precision and pizzazz, and a couple of orchestral interludes truly got the adrenaline pumping. One of them, at about the opera’s one-hour mark, accompanies projected images charting the meteoric rise of the company and its growing complication as a corporate organism. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were extracted to stand as a frenetic orchestral showpiece in its own right.” – Santa Fe New Mexican
"Michael Christie, music director of Minnesota Opera, had a strong debut at the podium, conducting [Dead Man Walking] with authority." – Washington Classical Review
"Yet the highest praise should be reserved for those given the tallest task: conductor Michael Christie and the orchestra. From the hypnotic, slow-building opening to the final triumphal entry into Valhalla, they offer non-stop transportation to a magical world." – Pioneer Press
“The true star of the opera in my book, however, was undeniably Maestro Michael Christie, who, like an elite athlete, exerted just enough energy to convey exactly what he wanted from his orchestra, one of the best in the business in my book." – Opera Sense
Performances with Minnesota Opera
- Manon Lescaut, 2013 — Conductor
- Arabella, 2013 — Conductor
- Macbeth, 2014 — Conductor
- La fanciulla del West, 2014 — Conductor
- The Manchurian Candidate, 2015 — Conductor
- Carmen, 2015 — Conductor
- Ariadne auf Naxos, 2015 — Conductor
- The Magic Flute, 2015 — Conductor
- Rusalka, 2016 — Conductor
- The Shining, 2016 — Conductor