Vienna State Opera, ditched by star conductors, soldiers on

Mon Oct 6, 2014 10:44am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Shadia Nasralla

VIENNA (Reuters) - Not many opera seasons start off as dramatically as this year's did at the Vienna State Opera with two star conductors storming off, but the opera's director Dominique Meyer wants to put that behind him.

The departures of Franz Welser-Moest, the opera's general music director, followed in short order by the resignation of guest conductor Bertrand de Billy, left a big hole in the schedule for one of the world's most prestigious opera houses.

Others have filled in, and Meyer has taken a philosophical approach.

"What is important in reality is what happens every evening in this house - it breathes and functions," Meyer said in an interview with Reuters.

Welser-Moest, one of Austria's most famous conductors who also leads the Cleveland Orchestra, quit as musical director only days after the season began over artistic differences, leaving 34 events without a conductor.

Frenchman de Billy, who had already abruptly left a production of Richard Wagner's "Lohengrin" last season over a dispute about a one-minute cut, waved goodbye to Meyer's opera only days after Welser-Moest.

Complaining to local media about working under Meyer, de Billy said he left the opera at least for the duration of the director's tenure. Meyer would not be drawn.

"I will certainly never say a word that would prohibit good conductors from returning," the French-born Meyer, who has directed the opera since 2010, said in near-flawless German.   Continued...

Vienna State Opera director Dominique Meyer gestures during a Reuters interview in his office in Vienna October 1, 2014. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger