Conlon, who stepped down as chief conductor of the Paris Opera earlier this year, has recently returned to his native United States after holding a series of European posts. He is the longtime music director of the Cincinnati May Festival, and recently agreed to become the music director of the Chicago Symphony's Ravinia Festival in 2005.
Nagano announced earlier this month that he would step down from his L.A. Opera post after accepting music director positions at the Montreal Symphony and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich.
L.A. Opera general director Plšcido Domingo said in a statement that Los Angeles "could look forward to some brilliant music-making from James Conlon."
"I have had the privilege and joy not only to know James Conlon for a long time," Domingo added, "but also to have sung under his guidance on two important occasions and I have always been struck by his exceptional musical perception and uncanny understanding of voices."
A graduate of the Juilliard School, Conlon made his New York Philharmonic debut in 1974 and his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1976, and has conducted at the Met more than 200 times. He was the general music director of the city of Cologne, Germany, from 1989-2002, and the music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic from 1983-1991. Recently, he has worked to raise awareness of composers affected by the Holocaust, leading works by Viktor Ullman, Alexander von Zemlinsky, and others.