Živa Ploj Peršuh has established herself on the Slovenian music scene as a conductor who delights audiences with her fresh and convincing performances. She is a versatile conductor with a broad symphonic and operatic repertoire who is dedicated to Slovenian new music. She is passionate about helping young musicians and refugees from Ukraine with her boundless energy and ability to get ambitious projects off the ground.
She excels at large symphonic repertoire, particularly works by Bartók, Brahms, Dvorák Shostakovich, Strauss, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky, and especially works with a vocal element – including the Requiems of Brahms, Verdi and Fauré as well as Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and 4th Symphony – drawing on her experience in the opera world.
Her opera repertoire includes Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and The Maid of Orleans, Beethoven’s Fidelio, Hans Krása’s Brundibar, Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, Philip Glass’s La Belle et la Bête, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and Tosca, and Verdi’s Macbeth to name but a few.
After completing her musicology and vocal studies in Ljubljana she studied orchestral and opera conducting in Mannheim, Germany. By the end of her studies in Mannheim she had established her own orchestra Festine, with the aim of connecting professional musicians from Slovenia and elsewhere in Europe with young Slovenian musicians and to coach them in contemporary music performance. As part of her work with Festine Živa is committed to the education of children and young musicians, creating the family concert series Festinice whose innovative concerts incorporate theatre, silent film, paintings and dance to attract wider audiences.
As well as conducting the string orchestra of the Academy of Music in Ljubljana and the Ljubljana Conservatory of Music Symphony Orchestra, Živa established the Ljubljana International Orchestra, formed of musicians from around the world, which has toured to Austria, Croatia, Italy, Serbia, Spain and the UK. The orchestra attracts international soloists and has received awards from the presidents of Slovenia and Italy.
In 2019 Živa established the Slovenian Youth Orchestra in conjunction with international and local partners. The orchestra has become an important symbol of Slovenian culture, standing alongside more established European national youth orchestras.
In 2022, Živa established the artistic and humanitarian project Music for the Future, to assist with the evacuation and integration of young Ukrainian musicians. She has helped 142 musicians relocate to Ljubljana and integrate into life in Slovenia. From this group of musicians she formed a symphony orchestra which has performed in Slovenia as well as in Austria, Croatia, Germany and elsewhere. Violinist Gidon Kremer has been a key supporter of the project and joined Živa for a concert in Ljubljana. Read more about this project here: www.future.smo.ngo
Aside from her own projects Živa has been a regular guest conductor with the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestras of the Slovene National Theatre in Maribor and Ljubljana, and the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra. She has conducted in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and many countries across Europe and North Africa.
Živa first appeared at the Slovenian National Theatre Opera in Ljubljana conducting Richard Strauss’s Salome in 2015. Since then she has conducted countless new productions, most recently Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, Tchaikovsky’s The Maid of Orleans and Puccini’s Tosca, leading to her appointment as First Kapellmeister in 2015.
She conducted the new ballet HeartMeat, by celebrated choreographers Rosana Hribar and Gregor Luštek. She was invited to conduct Alexander Ekman’s new ballet Cacti, as well as Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, Verdi’s Otello, Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and the contemporary ballet Symphony of Sorrowful Songs with music by Gorecki, the latter as a tribute to the late theatre director Tomaž Pandur.
Outside Slovenia she has conducted Swan Lake at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste to great acclaim and stepped in for the ballet Doctor Zhivago (with music by Shostakovich and Rachmaninov) on tour with Brno Philharmonic.
“The musical side of the production was under the direction of Živa Ploj Peršuh, who put in a polished performance conducting the Orkester SNG Opera in balet Ljubljana. She produced an energetic reading which drove the narrative forward. Peršuh maintained an excellent control of the tempi and dynamics, which both reflected and created the changing nature of the drama, as it quickly moved from scene to scene, capturing the underlying pulse of the work. She was respectful to the singers’ needs and was also successful in exploiting the interesting orchestral textures of the score.”
OperaWire (La Belle et la Bête, review)