Who’s next for Vienna?

Who’s next for Vienna?


norman lebrecht

September 05, 2014

The abrupt departure of Franz Welser-Möst leaves 34 nights to fill this season, plenty of opportunity to test out potential music directors.

The one who will spring to mind for Vienna’s intendant Dominique Meyer are, in order of availability:

Gianandrea Noseda, who has just quit Turin.

Daniele Gatti, who is being pursued for the Turin vacancy but would prefer Vienna.


Philippe Jordan, who is performing wonders at the Paris Opéra, where finances are getting tough. He beings this season as chief condcutor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.

Antonio Pappano, who shows no sign of wanting to leave Covent Garden.

The young Frenchmen Alain Altinoglu and Philippe Auguin are frequent visitors, well liked by the musicians.

Simone Young, also well respected, is in her final season as general music director in Hamburg.

Anyone we’ve overlooked?



  • sdReader says:

    Yes, nobody.

    Nobody will fill the vacancy for the next few seasons, methinks.

  • Richard says:

    Muti. The Viennese adore him, he’s been conducting in Vienna and Saltzbug annually for 40 years. If FWM could juggle Cleveland and VSO, Muti could do the same with Chicago.

    And don’t tell me he’s too old. No ageism allowed.

  • Neil McGowan says:

    Jurowski’s not working at an opera house currently either…

  • Gary Carpenter says:

    I would think Christian Thielemann is already packing his overnight bag!

    • sdReader says:

      Well, of course that’s who they want.

      And it wouldn’t surprise me if plans involving Thielemann, operatic and symphonic, were what tipped things against the powers protecting Welser-Möst.

      Dresden has had all the momentum, and Munich with Petrenko.

      Wien doesn’t like being left in the dust.

      • Peter says:

        I would have thought that Dresden would have every right to be extremely upset if Mr Thielemann buggered off to Vienna. It would be a bad case of “career-itis”. He’s only 55, wait until Vienna comes around again. Meantime, continue stunning work in Dresden.

        • sdReader says:

          Peter, I was just saying that the orchestra *wants* Thielemann, they want to do more work with him, etc. This is natural because he is without question the most talented and interesting German-speaking conductor in the mainstream Germanic repertory since, well, Karajan.

          I was not saying they will get him. I imagine — and NL surely knows more — that plans were afoot to do additional work with CT and that FWM’s backers, who are reported to be powerful, could no longer stand up to the pressures to make these plans happen. FWM unwisely thwarted at least one CT plan in Vienna, the filming of the Ring with CT a couple of seasons ago, and has probably overplayed his hand.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    Gatti’s not a good opera conductor. How about giving the job to Peter Schneider as an interim solution?

  • Peter says:

    They should try and give FWM’s Elektra this coming season to Bychkov.

  • Oracle says:

    Mikko Franck! Great success in Vienna.

  • William Boughton says:

    Oh what fun this is – a great sport. So who are the potential ‘strikers’ for the Premier League of Opera Houses!?
    On a serious note – I have worked with Dominique Meyer, a man of enormous artistic integrity and one who is not afraid to make his own choices in the best interests of the Staatsoper. Danielle Gatti conducted one of the best performances of ‘Parsifal’ at the Metropolitan Opera I have ever heard and, from memory. I also saw heard a brilliant concert recently with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Helsinki with him at the helm.

  • newyorker says:

    Likely: Thielemann. Gatti. Young.

    Also ran: Jurowski. Bychkov.

    Best choice: Gatti.

  • John Nemaric, Ph.D. says:

    I am thinking of Manfred Honneck. He is a fellow Viennese and a former member violin and viola player of the Philharmonic. Good opera experience at Stuttgart I believe. However, he also quit opera (Stuttgart) probably for the same artistic reasons FW-M quit Vienna. My guess only.

  • Dan says:

    One person who’d love to have it just for a year, but who’s certainly not being considered, is Barenboim, the greatest of self-promoters, who took on La Scala just long enough to put it on his résumé, then quit…

  • Mark says:

    The full facts are not being disclosed, and the parties appear to be taking the high road. Yet I find the actions of FWM highly unprofessional. He made commitments to conduct several productions at the Vienna State Opera, and now he backs out right before the season is scheduled to begin. What could be so horrible to him that he could not have given management notice of 6 to 12 months so they would have more time to find a replacement? Now perhaps he was telling management of his intentions in private for some time now, but the news reports indicate that it was a surprise to everyone. So it would appear that FWM has burned a lot of bridges in Vienna, but the good news for Vienna is that there are many talented conductors out there. if only Cleveland could find such good news!

  • Alexander Hall says:

    Simone Young “Well respected”? Talk to the musicians of the Hamburg State Philharmonic (the opera orchestra) and you’ll get a different picture. They are heartily sick of her, her airs and graces and her managerial high-handedness, and so cannot wait to see the back of her. That said, Kent Nagano isn’t much better, but then Hamburg has never aimed very high in the musical stakes, unlike Munich (a much smaller city).

    • Max Grimm says:

      @ Alexander Hall: Agreed. Their attitudes and personalities (of which I have only hearsay to go by) aside, I have never been fond of their interpretations and work.

      @NL: Norman, an article from the Hamburger Abendblatt (http://www.abendblatt.de/kultur-live/article2121119/Simone-Youngs-langer-Abschied-2015-ist-Schluss.html) makes Mrs. Young appear anything but “well respected”. And if I remember correctly, Mrs. Young also claimed in an interview that she was tired of the responsibility of being in charge and was thinking of scaling back. Although she may revise her opinion in the future, given those thoughts, a move from the Hamburg- to the Vienna State Opera would seem illogical.

  • Jon says:

    How about Bertrand de Billy? Well known in Vienna and with a solid opera conductor background.

  • harold braun says:

    Yes:My boss,Dan Ettinger.Wonderful conductor and musician,incredible stick and absolutely dedicated.And a wonderful mensch!!!He´s conducted quite frequently there.One of the best in the business!

  • Laura C. says:

    Manfred Honneck. Please give me a break. The man is a DISASTER with voices, has no idea how to cast anything, ends up firing singers because he doesn’t know how to tell them what he wants (or maybe he doesn’t know until he’s heard it?) NOT a good choice.

    Most of the other suggestions sound great. The main thing would be to make sure the new music director is able to be there enough to rehearse and get along with the orchestra.

    The other question is to push the Vienna Staatsoper to quit using overly green, overly young singers on their roster to perform roles which need experience and, may I suggest, something to back up a “name.” The Staatsoper should not be putting young artists in their role debuts on that stage: opera becomes poorer when all we are looking at is “wow, she does it really well for 25!” rather than, “Wow, that was a life-changing experience tonight with an artist who’s honed his/her skills!” Singers start to come into their own in their 30s, if then!

    I wonder how many of the clashes between these two men were about casting.

  • Manu says:

    Gatti is so insultingly superior to all the other candidates that the debate derives into absurdity. Another thing is that he would like that position.
    Has anybody seen his Falstaff in Amsterdam, his Moses and Aaron in Vienna, his Lulu in Vienna, his Traviata in Milano, his Parsifal at the MET? In Salzburg he has conducted Verdi, Puccini, Wagner and Strauss on four consecutives years. Which other conductor could champion this? Not even Barenboim, Gergiev, Thielmann, Rattle or Muti could do this.