A second conductor quits the Vienna Opera

A second conductor quits the Vienna Opera


norman lebrecht

September 16, 2014

To lose one conductor is unfortunate. To lose two is an Oscar Wilde farce.

Ten days after Franz Welser-Möst’s abrupt resignation as music director of the Vienna State Opera, his colleague Bertrand de Billy has announced he won’t conduct there any more.

De Billy, former music director of the Vienna radio orchestra, told the tabloid  newspaper Kurier that ‘the State Opera chapter is over for me so long as Dominique Meyer is in charge.’

de billy


While Welser-Möst fastidiously avoided personal conflict with the Opera’s French general director, De Billy – who is also French – has no such constraint. He cited ‘dishonesty and disloyalty’, adding that after conducting Lohengrin in March ‘it makes no sense for me to work in this house under these circumstances.’

He needed, he said, ‘partners who are 100 percent loyal. After spending 3-4 years planning a production, I need to know the agreement will hold. I no longer have that confidence.’

De Billy’s walkout leaves Meyer with more blank podium nights this season – Lohengrin, Manon and Fidelio – to add to the 34 gaps left by his music director’s resignation.

It’s starting to look like an old-fashioned Viennese ‘scandal’. There has been no response so far from Dominique Meyer, but the house is full and the artists seem to be happy.



  • John Borstlap says:

    Why suddenly this traditional Viennese ‘Hetze’ against the direction? All those years everybody has been happy with Meyer?

    • Erich says:

      Eh…hallo? This is VIENNA we’re talking about. The Viennese aren’t happy without a scandal and the summer has been so quiet. It doesn’t matter a jot what really horrible things are happening in the real world – if there’s something juicy at the Opera or Burgtheater, that always takes precedence!

    • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

      As Erich says, a summer, or a year, without a scandal is, to use a Viennese, term ” fad” – worse than boring. After all, Staatsoper and Burgtheater are more important than the government (which of course has its own scandals, but still…). The city can look forward to an exciting season, for sure.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    Yet, somehow, Ioan Holender managed to keep the Staatsoper scandal-free for his 18 years of directorship.

    Well, not quite scandal-free, as there have been hick-ups, but nothing on this scale…