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Keltner, Karen_headshot 2010.jpg

Karen Keltner (she/her) - Music Director

Karen Keltner (she/her) served for thirty-five years as Resident Conductor and Music Administrator of the San Diego Opera, for whom she has conducted many productions, including Cold Sassy Tree, Of Mice and Men, A Streetcar Named Desire, Wozzeck, Salome, Die Zauberflöte, Le nozze di Figaro, Faust, Les pêcheurs de perles, Don Pasquale, Il barbiere di Siviglia, L’Italiana in Algeri, The Love for Three Oranges, La Périchole, Rigoletto, Der Fliegende Holländer, Hansel and Gretel, Samson et Dalila, Tosca, La bohème, the American premiere of Peter Maxwell Davie’ The Lighthouse, the West Coast premiere of Thérèse Raquin, and the world premiere of The Conquistador by Myron Fink, among others.


As a guest conductor, she has appeared on the podium of The Washington Opera at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and Vancouver Opera (Canada) for Of Mice and Men,

l’Opera National du Rhin in Strasbourg, France and the Austin Lyric Opera for A Streetcar Named Desire, New York City Opera for La bohème, Seattle Opera for Hansel and Gretel, Glimmerglass Opera for Yeoman of the Guard, Nashville Opera for Don Pasquale, Opera Carolina for Aida, Carmen, Il barbiere di Siviglia, La traviata, Tosca, and Salome, Pittsburgh

Opera for Lucia di Lammermoor and Il barbiere di Siviglia, Utah Opera for La belle Hélène and Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Opera Company of Philadelphia for Salome, Syracuse Opera for Aida, Orlando Opera for Les contes d’Hoffmann and Amahl and the Night Visitors, Austin Lyric Opera and Manitoba Opera (Canada) for Madama Butterfly and Carmen, Opera Columbus for La Cenerentola, Opera of Kansas City for La bohème, Opera Carolina for Cold Sassy Tree, Aida, Carmen and others, Chautauqua Opera for Così fan tutte and Don Pasquale, Hawaii Opera Theatre for La bohème, the Eastman School of Music for The Mother of Us All, and the USC School of Music for The Rape of Lucretia. For several years she also served as Principal Conductor of Anchorage Opera, conducting numerous productions for that company. Keltner is a principal guest conductor for Utah Festival Opera and Music Theatre where during the past 28 seasons of conducting grand opera, she also takes great pleasure in leading productions of musical theatre and light opera, including South Pacific, The Merry Widow, Carousel, My Fair Lady, Music Man, Les Misérables, Mary Poppins, and West Side Story. Keltner has also conducted numerous Concerts during the UFOMT Festival Season.


Born in South Bend, Indiana, Ms. Keltner studied music and conducting at Indiana University, where she earned a B.A. in French, plus the B.Mus., M.Mus., and D.Mus. degrees. She studied conducting with Fiora Contino, Julius Herford, Wolfgang Vacano, and Tibor Kozma, and piano with Walter Robert. Ms. Keltner is also a graduate of the University of Strasbourg in France and speaks fluent French. The first young conductor to ever receive a National Opera Institute Apprenticeship in Conducting, 1981-1982, Ms. Keltner also received a Skaggs Foundation grant for study of opera performance in Europe. She previously served as Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and Assistant Conductor for the Brevard Symphony in Melbourne, Florida.

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