Domingo’s conductor gets a promotion

Domingo’s conductor gets a promotion


norman lebrecht

January 17, 2020

Immediately after Domingo’s appearance last night at the Berlin Staatsoper, his young conductor Thomas Guggeis, 25, was officially promoted to  the title ‘Staatskapellmeister’ of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden.



  • Alviano says:

    Oh hush. He’s good.

  • Vienna calling says:

    He has a fantastic agency who also represents Harry Kupfer – still alive on their website, without comment.

  • willymh says:

    I’m a little confused – put it down to age – but I can’t make out from the headline or text if Guggeis is a Domingo protege or not; and the implication seems to be that his promotion was the result of his conducing last evening’s performance. Any clarification would be greatly appreicated.

  • Carlos Solare says:

    Before making insinuations worthy of the worst kind of tabloid (as is your wont), you could have taken the trouble of looking up who this person actually is. Far from being “Domingo’s conductor”, Guggeis has been on staff at the Staatsoper for quite some time now and has certainly earned his spurs.

  • questionable says:

    at least that’s the only fiddling that appears to have happened after PD made an appearance – but is that guy too young for such a position?

  • Esther Cavett says:

    Oh, I thought this was a woman in the pic…

    • Jan Kaznowski says:

      ==I thought this was a woman in the pic…

      Fair point. I thought it was another article about the welcome increase in female conductors

  • FrayGeigerin says:

    We are crazy. What is a 25 year old doing as Kapelmeister in one of the world top opera houses?

    Conducting used to be a profession for the best and most experienced musicians. Now it is a joke of almost teenagers trying to serve themselves and their egos, where image and charisma are more important than the music, where what the coductor does gesture-wise on the stage to entertain the audiences is more important than what the conductor does to help the music. We have gone wrong and we are encouraging this instead of fighting it.

    Yes, please now come and tell me he is very talented and that other conductors also started young etc. I am just sick of having egomaniacs with no quality in their late 20s as guest conductors only because they are being pushed by agencies. Every minute of rehearsal with these “young stars” is a waste of time.

    I respect good conductors. I need conductors. I cannot do Bohème without them. I cannot do Salome. I cannot do a good Beethoven 5th without a conductor, but we are now living in a world where the conductor is more important than the music.

    The End. Sorry for the rant.

    • Anon says:

      My Violin Lady, are there any good 25-year old instrumentists out there? Most certainly. So, provided they started young enough, had much experience over 10+ years with conducting orchestra, had great teachers, and practiced deliberately, great young conductors can theoretically exist. I agree that most of those pushed in front of orchestras nowadays are rubbish, but I won’t be suprised to see younger, better conductors in the decades to come.

      • FrauGeigerin says:

        It is not the same thing. Violinists don’t have the job of leading a group of professional musicians. If a violin plays the violin poorly it is clearly heard. If a conductor does not have what is needed, the orchestra will still do their best to give a good performance. It is the nature of all musicians. Conducting is a profession full of charlatans and fakes, because it is “easy” to hide behind the orchestra.

        In 10 years, from 15 to 25 years of age nobody can reach the level of knowledge, skills, maturity, and life experience to make a group of excellent musicians (all of which 80 years ago would have had soloist careers – and most likely all as good musicians as the conductor) sound even better. I don’t know who it was who said that conducting is a profession for the second half of the life of a musician, but I couldn’t agree more. I am still waiting for the first conductor under 40 I can say to my desk partner “hey, this conductor is really good, made us play more together, is here to serve the music and not himself[herself], has a good idea of what he wants, and can communicate clearly with as few words as possible”.

        • Kna says:

          Dear Fraugeigerin, I have been following your great comments for a while. I think this could interest you…

          • Anon says:

            Kna, I read the whole thing. What a bunch of utter rubbish. Your ego is greater than Karajan’s! Here’s some advice for you, although I’m sure it will fly right over your head: you have only yourself to blame for a lack of success in life.

          • Kna says:

            First of all, I didn’t write this.
            Second, could you please elaborate on what exactly made you come to this particular psychological analysis of the writer’s ego?
            What did you find false?

          • FrauGeigerin says:

            Thank you! Very interesting.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          Frau: Consider this. Conductors over the age of forty only got to be competent conductors by trying to do it at age 30 and making lots of mistakes. They have to learn how to do it, which takes time. But some learn quite quickly (and others do not).

    • Novagerio says:

      I completely agree with Frau(?)Geigerin.
      In the old days you started as an unpaid korrepetitor in a small theater, advancing to Kapellmeister, and doing the so called climbing-the-ladder, normally via Pforzheim – Hof – Coburg, through Augsburg – Wiesbaden, and you were at least 35 when you eventually hit Hamburg, Berlin and Vienna, and by then, you might have become GMD in Aachen or Karlsruhe.
      Were you solid enough, you would get a permanent staff-position for life in a major State Opera, like Hollreiser, Wallberg, Horst Stein, Klobučar and a few other veteran craftmen. Now of course, and with the dominance of the markets, if you merely know your job and rely on life-long experience, you’re considered “mediocre” and “unappealing”….

  • MacroV says:

    He’s not a protege of Domingo, so that headline, while useful click-bait, is inaccurate and a bit unfair. As is the “coincidence?” question. Maybe the appearance is a vote of confidence – giving a high-profile engagement to a promising young conductor. And regular visitors to SD (owners, too) might recall that this isn’t his first appearance on this site:

  • ZB says:

    I think, that his talent was noticed…

  • Rob says:

    He’s talented and has a great big career ahead of him.

    • Talent is overrated says:

      I’m very annoyed at all the people who still use the word talent. Talent doesn’t exist, that has been proven for many years already. It’s actually insulting for people, to say that they are good because they are talented, it completely ignores the years of hard work they put in. No, they are not talented. They just worked harder than the others, and that’s true for any field.

      • FrauGeigerin says:

        Bravo! Exactly talent is nothing. Talent means just what makes people learn faster. Many talented young musicians learn very fast (they call them genius or ultra-talented), but it gets to a point where their talent does not help them compete with other musicians, because they are competing with people playing at the same level, even though it might have taken them longer to get there.

        In September who started working with two of my students on the same repertoire for an orchestral audition. One of them, who is young and learnsvery fast (talented), learnt the repertoire in 2 weeks. The other one in 1 month. The fast learner went on to learn other repertoire while still working on the pieces for the audition. They both worked hard on it, but at the end they were playing equally well the audition repertoire. The older, not-so-talented, student won the position in the orchestra.

      • Novagerio says:

        Having a talent means having a gift that you cultivate throughout your life through thorough studying, then there’s also luck. Ultimately you’ll need that essential push forward from some Biggie.

  • Nijinky says:

    I am just so surprised, because the first should have been the neighbor boy, then his wife, and then his first love, followed by the farmer across the way, the one that fed the neighboy and got his wife… well never mind. But I meant the neighbor boy’s wife, not….

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    I cannot see any connection between his conducting Domingo & his promotion.

  • anon says:

    And the Berlin Phil has the second or third lowest ratio of women members of any orchestra in the world. Less than one third the number of the NY Phil and BBC Symphony Orchestra.

    Berlin will likely soon be surpassed by the Czech Phil, leaving the Vienna and Berlin Phils in the number one and two spots for the fewest women members. Just a coincidence?

    Domingo knows where to go for support.

  • Vittorio Parisi says:

    Thomas Guggeis has been in my class in Milano 3 years ago as an Erasmus student for a few months. He is an oustanding musician and conductor. That’s all

    • Edgar says:

      Thank you for your post. It is the only comment which is relevant and puts everything, including Norman’s click bait, into the much needed perspective.

      I write this as someone who has never attended a performance led by Mr. Guggeis, but simply as someone who reads SD and, in this instance, has read most of the comments here (as well as reviews of the recent stint at Unter den Linden, such as in Der Tagesspiegel, whose critic was mightily impressed with Mr. Guggeis’ conducting).

      Chill it, folks. The guy is still young and will learn a lot, and while he is at it, he will get even better

      In the meantime I propose you quit your beckmessering 😉

  • Bruno E says:

    It is not a coincidence but the appointment has nothing to do with Domingo. Guggeis is a brilliant, young conductor who proved his ability in an excellent Salome at the Staatsoper and Der Prinz von Homburg in Stuttgart, just to quote two recent productions.


    Long, long planned! And great news for the Staatsoper.

  • Guy Bryan says:

    Sounds ridiculous to me, the guy is far too inexperienced. In Bristol we have a conductor who has founded two orchestras. The current one being Bristol Classical Players have many times featured Stephen Hough, their patron. Have had Nicola Benedetti play with them and next month Jennifer Pike again. Last year performed Mahler 2 in Bristol Cathederal, was an absolute knock out
    Why is this man Tom Gauterin not being regularly invited to conduct major orchestras?

    • FrauGeigerin says:

      Because being good conductor has nothing to do with having a career. It has always been two different things, and these days even more so.

  • Theresa says:

    Isn‘t Guggeis Christoph von Dohnányi‘s assistant and protégé? Nothing to do with Domingo.

  • Arameo says:

    Daniel Barenboim is not only a genius musician He is great at picking up the best talents and promote them. Pappano, Young, Weigle, Ettinger, Jordan and more recently Shani Guggeis and many others.

    • Factsright says:

      Jordan is the son of a famous opera conductor. Weigle is the nephew of the former Rektor of a major conservatoire in Berlin and well-known choral conductor.