Breaking: Vienna Opera hires principal from the Berlin Phiharmonic

Breaking: Vienna Opera hires principal from the Berlin Phiharmonic


norman lebrecht

May 22, 2015

Sophie Dartigalongue, a bassoonist in the Berlin Philharmonic for the past two years has won the audition for principal bassoon in the Vienna Opera orchestra. She succeeds Professor Michael Werba in September this year.

Sophie, 24, French-born, played in the Orchestre des Pays de Savoie and the Orchestre de l’Opéra Lyon before upgrading to Berlin.

She becomes an automatic candidate member of the Vienna Philharmonic, though whether they can overcome embedded prejudices to give her full membership remains to be seen.

Berlin’s loss is Vienna’s gain.




  • tess says:

    not exactly breaking news since the open position has been advertised at the Berlin Phil website since a while already, but anyway….congrats to her!

  • Novagerio says:

    Oh please, enough with these conspiratorial nonsense speculations!
    It’s not about overcoming “embedded prejudices”! Every musician hired in the Staatsoperorchester needs a 5-7 year trial before eventually becoming a fully accepted member of the Philharmonic, and that goes for all (both) genders!!

  • william osborne says:

    For the last 8 years, the Vienna State Opera Orchestra/Vienna Philharmonic has been hiring women at a faster rate than the Berlin Phil which has the third lowest ratio of women in the world at only 14%.

  • Max Grimm says:

    No poaching involved, Norman. As ‘Tess’ states above, the Berlin Phil had advertised the contrabasson position she held one or two months ago, meaning one of two things:
    1. She didn’t pass the trial phase and would have had to leave anyway or
    2. She, for whatever reason, decided to leave Berlin under her own volition and had given notice.
    Whatever it is, she was not poached.

  • Andrew Condon says:

    On a related matter, I was quite amused when watching the Berlin Phil’s recent concert with Paavo Jarvi on the DCH to see a rather distinguished guest 2nd clarinettist – none other than Ernst Ottensamer from the Vienna Phil, sitting of course with his son who is principal. Nothing like keeping it in the family!

  • Malcolm james says:

    I read an interesting comment about the VPOs reluctance to hire women some years ago. Although those being hired were almost exclusively men, the men being hired had a different attitude towards hiring women. Maybe we are seeing the start of a generational shift with the fusty old dinosaurs (e.g. Dieter Fleury) retiring and these younger men are assuming greater influence, so that the number of women will at last start to increase more rapidly.

    Maybe someone should ask Sarah Willis whether there is a bias against hiring women in the BPO.

  • Malcolm james says:

    According to the website she joined the BPO in May 22013, so either she’s leaving of her own volition or her probation period was initially extended and she’s now failed it.

    • Berlin Fan says:

      The BPO probationary period is usually two years so Ms Dartigalongue’s trial would not be up until end of May 2015. I suspect that she would have to be particularly out of favour, for whatever reason, for her trial to have been terminated after 18 months. Her position was first advertised in January 2015. Also, if she were not good enough for the BPO 2nd bassoon position could you really see her being accepted as VPO Principal. Ms Dartigalongue is, by all accounts, a superb player so it seems more than likely that someone had a word in her ear about the up-coming VPO vacancy.

  • MacroV says:

    In Berlin she was the contrabassoonist, in Vienna she’ll be principal. Vienna is the better job for her. If she won the audition after being turned down for tenure in Berlin, nice recovery. But it’s certainly conceivable that all was well in Berlin and she auditioned for and won a better job.

  • Berlin Fan says:

    The BPO probabtion period is usually two years. Ms Dartigalongue was appointed in May 2013 so her trial period would finish at the end of May 2015. The vacancy for her position was first advertised in January 2015 so it appears likely that she resigned her position possibly after having been made aware of the up-coming VPO vacancy. One has to ask if it is likely that the VPO would appoint as principal bassoon someone who had failed a trial as 2nd bassoon in the BPO. Ms Dartigalongue is, by all accounts, a superb bassoon player and any suggestion that she failed to make the grade in the BPO seems way off the mark.

  • Novagerio says:

    Just consider the enormous difference between both orchestras style and playing tradition…apparently she got the place where she fits the best.