Berlin orchestra rejects new music director

Berlin orchestra rejects new music director


norman lebrecht

October 16, 2016

Berlin’s Komische Oper, whose recent chief conductors include Kirill Petrenko and the late Yakov Kreizberg, has got itself into a tangle over its next music director.

The incumbent, Henrik Nanasi, is on the way out. A shortlist of six has yielded one outstanding candidate who is well liked by the artistic director and ovated by the public in Barber of Seville.

Antonella Manacorda, 46, is a former Abbado concertmaster who studied with Jorma Panula and now heads the orchestra at Arnhem in the Netherlands.



He is also rumoured to have a Sony record deal, according to the combative Manuel Brug in Die Welt.

But musicians of the excellent Komische Oper orchestra have voted him down.

They want a bigger name.

Simon Rattle has been mentioned. (Won’t happen: Manacorda shares an agent with Rattle.) So they’ve got stalemate.

Story here.



  • laltro says:

    Antonello… ooo!

  • Stefan Treddel says:

    His conducting of Barbiere is a desaster and he already has a record deal with Sony. Speaks for the orchestra that they turn him down!

  • May says:

    After reading the article in Die Welt, I must agree with the orchestra musicians. Why would they want an inexperienced conductor, who is most likely only using them as a stepping stone to learn repertoire that he will eventually be conducting in larger houses? Big deal that he was concertmaster under Abbado. What difference does that make for the singers? Secondly, for a house which only produces operas in German, why would they not want a conductor who isn’t fluent in the language?

    • Stefan says:

      Komische Oper is not producing opera in German only anymore! Barbiere is performed in Italian. So this would not be the problem at all. But having an italian conductor who struggles this much with Rossini is not really useful!

    • Wolfgang Amadeus Museart says:

      Okay he was concertmaster under Abbado but what does this have to do with conducting? And do we know whether he he a good student of Jorma Panula? Orchestra player have a much better sense than their managers and there is hardly no exception to the rule. There are already too many orchestras that suffer from socalled “conductors”. In the “good old days” opera houses were looking to find conductors who learned their skills as repetiteur and later worked as condcutors in small opera houses until they have a lot of repertoire available. These days are gone obviously and the best is to boycot these opera houses who don’t have real conductors.

    • G says:

      He IS fluent in German!

  • Daphne Badger says:

    Ovated? Really? What language are we speaking here?

  • David says:

    “Berlin Orchestra”?! What the hell kind of a headline is that? Berlin has more orchestras than you can shake a stick at. Fine as the orchestra of the Komische Oper may be, it’s not the first, second, or even third orchestra I expected to read about when clicking on this story.

    • Max Grimm says:

      But you did click on this story, so Norman and his bait-headline succeeded at catching your click.
      I’m just happy that he managed to pull himself together and after his “Berlin Philharmonic Fight” nonsense didn’t turn this into something like “Betrayal in Berlin: The Great Komische Oper Battle”.

  • Una says:

    Nice interview here between Bruce Duffie and Yakov Kreizberg in Chicago.

  • Peter says:

    No Sony record deal is mentioned in the article, that’s an invention here.
    “Sony hat weitere Pläne” could mean anything and nothing, it means someone said that Sony is thinking about doing something with him in the future. No contract or anything that would justify the word ‘deal’ exists.
    One has to know how to read this blog, because the facts are rarely correct.

    • Stefan says:

      Manacorda has several CDs out on Sony already! So what else is new? There might be a new deal on the horizon or not… So the announcement of a deal is simply wrong.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Sony is experimenting with square CD’s for the more bourgeois segment of the audience. That’s why the Komische Oper Orchestra don’t want him because such undertakings are no laughing matter. (For the record: the first trial production disc got stuck in the player.)

  • harold braun says:

    He comes from the period practice performance school.Totally inexperienced in opera.How is he supposed to conduct Verdi,Puccini,Wagner and Strauss?Totally ridiculous choice.Shows the sad state of affairs in opera management in Germany…

  • John de Jong says:

    I wonder how many of the people reacting here have experienced live concerts by Antonello Manacorda?

    He is a very fine conductor who is doing a lof of wonderful projects with the Gelders Orkest in Arnhem. I also heard some great opera conducting by him.

    His Kammerakademie Potsdam got the ECHO Klassik 2015 as Orchestra of the year.

    There are many reasons why a conductor and a orchestra do not fit together and maybe there is a mismatch with the Komische Oper.

  • harold braun says:

    Conducting a chamber orchestra in fine concerts doesn’t qualify to be a music director of a major opera house.No Verdi,Puccini,Strauss,Wagner,Berg,Tchaikovsky et al so far.
    He should learn his trade by being a repetiteur in an opera house,coaching singers,plazing piano in rehearsals,conducting off stage chorus and band,and then,slowly,start conducting productions without much rehearsals.Then applyiing for a Kapellmeister job.Preferably in a smaller house first.Then in a major house….Then,perhaps,applzing for a music director post in a smaller house.Everything else is unserious business

    • John de Jong says:

      Sorry Mr Braun, you have no idea what you are talking about.

      1. The Gelders Orkest is not a chamber orchestra. Manacorda is doing the whole symphony repertoire here. He did some very good Mahler as well.

      2. And he has a lot op opera experience too. What’s wrong with Teatro La Fenice, La Monnaie, Bayerische Staatsoper, Frankfurt Opera, Glydebourne, Theater and er Wien….

      Manacorda is a fine musican and all round conductor. If the musiciens in Berlin don’want him, that’s their choice. Fine. He will be available for other orchestra’s and opera houses.

  • Alexis Hauser says:

    Jordan de Souza is a TERRIFIC choice!
    He has the perfect background for conducting opera, is a first rate musician and the fact that the orchestra of KOBerlin welcomes his advancement in the company, speaks very much for him. He is serious, immensely gifted and hard working – hopefully, politics will not stand against his way.
    Alexis Hauser

  • Peter says:

    That op’ed article by Manuel Brug, what a nasty hit piece that is. Have to remember not to pay attention to that author anymore.
    At least he should have bothered to find out and report the actual arguments of the orchestra voting against Manacorda, before smearing, ridiculing and insulting them in the worst possible manner. Despicable, gutter “journalism”. But not surprising from a Springer disciple.

  • CJ says:

    “Inexperienced” ? M. Braun, you must be joking ! Antonello Manacorda has been a full-time conductor for more than 10 years.
    As M. De Jong has said, he has conducted in major opera houses (including the Liceu in Barcelona recently), and successfully : for example, his Mozart operatic cycle at Teatro La Fenice in Venice was acclaimed by press and public and he has been reinvited 5 times so far since 2010 ; La Monnaie called him a “revelation” after his concert last spring and he has been reinvited for 2 operas in the coming months.
    And yes, he speaks fluent German (and English and French).
    Maybe the decision of the Komische Oper orchestra has more to do with an opposition to the candidate of the hierarchy ? Who knows.
    Well, they have missed an opportunity.

    • harold braun says:

      Ok,which Verdi,Puccini,Strauss, Wagner, Bizet,Tchaikovsky,Massenet,Prokofiev,Berg,Janacek et al.did he conduct?None that I know. But that’s what a big opera house is about. Would really like to see him conduct 2nd act of Tosca or Boheme…