A Q&A with Michigan Opera Theatre Principal Conductor Stephen Lord

  • What do you most enjoy about being MOT Principal Conductor?

What I enjoy most is working with CEO Wayne Brown and the staff at MOT, all of whom are excited about a new chapter and proud of their past ones. After that, I enjoy the orchestra who share the feelings of the staff.

  • How would you describe your artistic style?

I would define my artistic style as “truthful.” I believe we can be true to the pieces we present within various musical and production styles, and we need to stay true to the legacy that MOT’s legendary founder David DiChiera established. We must also be honest and forthright with our artists and, as a company, give them back in equal proportion to what they are giving the audience. In that case, they become part of our artistic family and are eager to return for more.

  • What are your goals for MOT during your time here?

My goal at MOT is to prioritize long-term planning in a way that continues to place the company in the spotlight of mainstream industry players worldwide. This includes maintaining a balanced repertoire, increasing orchestra rehearsal time and quality and continuing to attract and retain the best of new talent.

  • How does it feel coming back to the company from which you started your career?

It is special to me to return to the company where I got my start in 1975 and come full circle. I also enjoy seeing how much the company and the city have changed over the course of the past few decades and continue to change. As I enter into a new phase of my life and career, I look forward to embracing these exciting times and the new roads ahead!

  • What is the biggest challenge of your role?

The biggest challenge of my role is having to pace my ambitions and goals for MOT! I would love to do all new productions, double our number of performances and take our shows to other cities in the United States and abroad. However, as Wayne and I discuss, these are things that have to be done incrementally.

  • What is your leadership style?

My leadership style would be one of collaboration. I am used to working in a system where the buck stops in one place, but the input of many is important. I am willing to shoulder mistakes and share successes.

  • How does MOT fit into Detroit’s revitalization?

Detroit has been through a lot, and I have the utmost respect for the people who work hard to revitalize this city. As an organization, we will continue to be a cultural anchor and community leader in neighborhood development. I also want people who work, live and raise children here to use MOT as a place to recharge and inspire. We want to be a place where people can look up from their screens and experience something real, where emotions can flow from a stage into their lives.

  • Why should audiences care about opera and dance?

In the world of our tightly-scheduled, over-stressed lives, opera and dance supply an island of beauty. Theater takes us from the ordinary to the extraordinary, offering a moving reflection of the human experience. There is no goal in these forms other than the enjoyment of those who take the chance and come.