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.’
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.