Born in 1958 in Jerusalem and currently music director of the Israeli Opera, Fisch made his U.S. debut in 1995, conducting Wagner's Flying Dutchman at Los Angeles Opera. He has since become a familiar presence on the podium at that company, the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden) and the Berlin Staatsoper. Among his many notable Wagner credentials are having conducted Australia's first-ever Ring cycle, in Adelaide in 2004.
Wagner — of which Seattle Opera makes a specialty — has featured prominently in Fisch's work at the company. He made his debut there conducting Parsifal in 2003 and returned the following year for Lohengrin; in 2006, he was on the podium for Seattle Opera's first International Wagner Competition as well as for Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier. This past August he conducted Seattle's Flying Dutchman, for which he won the company's Artist of the Year award for the 2006-07 season.
"Asher Fisch has conducted some of the greatest performances of Wagner and Strauss that Seattle Opera has ever enjoyed," said Jenkins in a statement released by the company. "He is vastly knowledgeable about opera, has impeccable taste, has a great deal of experience in the practical decisions of working in an opera company, and finally, has great rapport with the musicians who comprise our orchestra. I consider it an honor to Seattle Opera that he has accepted my offer to be Principal Guest Conductor."
In his new capacity, Fisch will have a regular presence on the podium and serve as a key advisor to Jenkins. He is scheduled to conduct Seattle Opera's second International Wagner Competition on August 16, 2008.