Oliver von Dohnányi (born March 2, 1955) is a Slovak conductor. He is Intendant/Artistic Director of the Opera of the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, Intendant/Artistic Director of the Opera of the Moravian-Silesian National Theatre, Ostrava and principal guest conductor of the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bratislava and Slovak Sinfonietta Orchestra.
Dohnányi was born in Trenčín, Czechoslovakia, (now in Slovakia), into a musical family. He studied violin, composition and conducting at the Prague Academy for Music under Professor Václav Neumann and Alois Klíma, and at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna under Professor Otmar Suitner, taking masterclasses with famous conductors Franco Ferrara, Arvid Janssons and Igor Markevich.
He made his début, with the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra in Bratislava, in 1979 and continued to conduct this orchestra regularly until 1986, which included many recordings not only for Slovak National Radio, but also for the Naxos Records Marco Polo imprint, Supraphon, Panton, Verga and Opus labels. From 1978 he worked extensively with the chamber ensemble Canticorum Iubilo, with which he toured Spain, Belgium, Sweden and the USSR.
During 1986-1991, he was principal conductor of the Slovak National Opera, where he enlarged the Opera's repertoire with the scenic works of Borodin, Puccini, Bellini, Rossini, Smetana and Verdi, as well as conducting the company in an award-winning production of Faust at the Edinburgh Festival (1990). He performed with the Slovak National Theatre Opera ensemble in Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Russia and China. Other appearances abroad have included visits to the Salzburg Festival, the ENO (where he has conducted Falstaff and Mefistofele), Opera North in Leeds (Carmen, The Bartered Bride, La Gioconda, Hamlet), the Teatro S Carlo in Naples and opera houses in Basle, Düsseldorf, Vienna, Zürich and Wexford. He has also appeared with the English Chamber Orchestra and the Yomiuri Nippon SO in Japan. His reputation is based above all on music of the late 19th and 20th centuries, and his recordings include music by Liszt and Rubinstein, Odysseus by Michael Kocáb and an acclaimed performance of Smetana's Libuše.
He has won distinctions in a number of competitions including the "Resphigi Competition" in Siena, the "Talich Competition of the Prague Spring" and the same award from Hungarian television in 1985 and the special prize at the 1989 Salzburg Festival for the television recording of Juraj Filas's opera Memento with the Prague Symphony Orchestra.
During 1993-1996, Oliver von Dohnányi became the principal conductor of the Opera of the National Theatre in Prague. His production enriched the Theatre's repertoire with the scenic works of Smetana, Gounod, Puccini, Verdi, Prokofiev, and Mozart. He toured Japan in 1995 and 1997 with the extraordinarily successful production of Mozart's Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro. Since 1997 he has regularly worked with the English National Opera in London, where he conducted with much success, operas by Verdi (Falstaff) and Boito (Mefistofele).
Since 2000, Oliver von Dohnányi has co-operated intensively with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. He is a regular guest conductor of the Opera Leeds, with which he produced operas by Bizet, Ponchielli, Thomas, Smetana (the "Best Production" of 1998). He has also been invited to opera houses in Basel, Zürich, Vienna, Osaka, Kassel, Mannheim, Karlsruhe, Oviedo, Naples, Wexford, Copenhagen, London, Prague and Brno.
Oliver von Dohnányi has conducted premiere performances of works by several Czech and Slovak composers (e.g. Petr Eben, Juraj Filas) and his recording of the opera Memento mori by Juraj Filas with the FOK Symphony Orchestra in Prague became a prize holder at the important television-festival in Salzburg. In May 2002, he conducted and recorded the premiere of three of Marian Budos works.
His production of Gounod's Faust was famous not only in former Czechoslovakia, but has been highly praised in Hungary, Israel and Great Britain. This production has been awarded the Critic's Prize in the category of music at the Edinburgh Festival. At the same time, he also worked with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra in Bratislava. With this ensemble, he gave a number of concerts in Slovakia consequently touring Switzerland and Russia. He also released some recordings with the Capella Istropolitana ensemble and conducted this chamber orchestra at concerts in Slovakia, Italy, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.
Oliver von Dohnányi's operatic engagements include Carmen, La Gioconda, Hamlet and The Bartered Bride for Opera North, Falstaff and Mefistofele for English National Opera, Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung at the Wexford Festival, Aïda at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf, Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Il Turco in Italia at the State Opera in Prague. The Bartered Bride at the Janáček Opera Brno, the world premiere of Golem by Hanus Barton, Don Giovanni, The Specter's Bride in Ostrava, La bohème and La traviata in Osaka, The Flying Dutchman in Kassel. Mefistofele in Basle, Rusalka in Zürich, a concert performance of Ernani with the English Chamber Orchestra at the Barbican in London, Tosca and Die Lustige Witwe for Reisopera, Falstaff and Jenůfa for the Royal Danish Theatre, Copenhagen, a concert performance of Libuše for the Edinburgh International Festival, Ariadne Auf Naxos for the Britten-Pears School, Aldeburgh, Macbeth and Roméo et Juliette for Badisches Staatstheater, Karlsruhe. He has also conducted a Ballet Evening at the Vienna Staatsoper, Alexander Nevsky at the Teatro San Carlo Naples, Prokofiev's Cinderella, A Midsummer Night's Dream and the premiere of In the Blue Garden for the Bayerisches Staatsballett, Munich, and Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev) in Zürich.
From 2006-2008, he will be continuing performing in his home country in Slovakia, as well as many other concerts:
Slovak Sinfonietta at the Bratislava Music Festival,
concerts in Paris, Budapest, Zagreb, Tokyo, Miskolc,
Concerts in Naples with I Solisti di Napoli and the Northern Symphonia, Leeds,
Tours in Germany and France with Slovak Sinfonietta,
Orchestral concerts with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra in Prague,
Orchestral concerts with the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra in Bratislava.,
He will also be continuing many operatic performances, with a new production of The Bartered Bride for Baltimore Grand Opera, a new production of Jenůfa at the Hungarian National Opera House and another one for Opera House in Málaga, at the National Theatre Prague 3 new productions: Saint-Saëns´s Samson and Delilah, Prokofiev´s Romeo and Juliet and Smetana´s Hubička (The Kiss). For National Theatre Ostrava a revival of The Bartered Bride and a new production of Alfano´s Cyrano de Bergerac. At the National Theatre Prague he is conducting permanently his productions of Rigoletto, La traviata, Rusalka, Libuše, Aida, Don Pasquale, La bohème, The Bartered Bride, Tosca and also Macbeth and Faust in Bratislava.