Just in: Gergiev is a no-show in Vienna

Just in: Gergiev is a no-show in Vienna


norman lebrecht

January 19, 2020

The conductor was 15 minutes late for the opening night of Lohengrin at the Vienna State Opera.

Today, he didn’t turn up at all, claiming a flight delay.


Mostly, he takes private jets.

This is an insult to the audience, the intelligence and to music itself.


UPDATE: ‘Everyone knows Gergiev is late’


  • BP says:

    He also showed up half an hour late for a concert with the Orchestre de Paris a few weeks ago. Is he starting to break down a little ?

  • Hans van der Zanden says:

    Very good review 13-01-2019:

    Conductor Valery Gergiev smoothly succeeded in changing the mood. The Tchaikovsky First Symphony, which was interpreted at the beginning, also delighted with sensuality and a full range of colors. The solos sounded inspired by the rows, the overall sound was plastic and animating. A whole Russian landscape appeared before the mind’s eye. A Saturday afternoon like in a fairy tale.

    • Lohengrinloh says:

      I attended two of those concerts observing Gergiev telepathying with the orchestra…pure magic. He is a genius. No doubt about it.

  • Jonathan Powell says:

    There is absolutely tons of fog in central/eastern Europe at the moment. I postponed a concert after spending a day in Krakow airport only to have it cancelled.

  • Hugh Kerr says:

    Well Michael Guttler got a great reception at the end and we never missed Gergiev’s fluttering fingers!

    • Lohengrinloh says:

      Güttler was boring and mechanical. This has also been confirmed by those who attended the previous evenings with Maestro. Thank God Meyer is gone soon.

  • Dominic Mowery says:

    He must have misplaced his toothpick.

  • PHF says:

    Private jets?! Jesus… and can’t even arrive before a performance. Those guys act like gods and everybody cuts them some slack all the time.

  • Tiredofitall says:

    Reminds me of when Joe Volpe would not hold the curtain for the Parsifal final dress rehearsal for Gergiev about 10 years ago. Gergiev literally came RUNNING through the guard’s gate, fifteen minutes late.

    This was the final straw for Joe after numerous other violations. Joe actually stood at the door to the pit. Another conductor took the act. Gergiev was not missed. Joe still is.

    • Stuart says:

      Timing is a bit off. Gergiev conducted Parsifal at the Met in 2003 and Volpe retired from the Met not long after.

      • Tiredofitall says:

        Thanks for the correction. Time can sometimes become a blur. What I really remember is seeing the Maestro literally running in the door, huffing and puffing. Staff standing in the stage door area were all astonished and a little more than amused.

        Joe announced his retirement in 2004 and PG began in 2006 after a year overlap with Joe.

        More than Gergiev, this run marked the first time that Rene Pape sang Gurnemanz. He was brilliant out of the box. A truly fine artist.

  • Player says:

    A great shame, as his Lohengrin back in ’97 at the ROH was a knockout!

  • Adabei says:

    Gergiev ist nicht einfach nur nicht erschienen, denn ein gut vorbereiteter Michael Güttler war schon im Haus und hat die Vorstellung dirigiert

  • Bruce says:

    Gergiev pulled this type of stunt with the Israel Philharmonic a number of times. Unprofessional behavior to say the least.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Valery, you are only ever as good as your last critical review. Did he slip while shaving? Oh, wait….

  • Mauricio Fernandez says:

    He’s always been like that, it’s amazing he’s still being booked everywhere as his contempt for the audience is well known.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    As I’ve written often in the past, Gergiev is no musician.
    He’s a charlatan, a phony, a clown.

    • Rob says:

      I don’t agree. He’s a fantastic pianist. A natural musician.

      • Greg Bottini says:

        Being a “musician” means more than simply “the ability to play an instrument”, Rob.
        It also means being responsible and respectful to your colleagues and your audience by showing up to the gig on time and being fully prepared to perform.
        I stand by my comment. Gergiev is a phony. He’s in it only for the money.

      • M2N2K says:

        Never had the pleasure of experiencing Gergiev’s keyboard virtuosity, but if you are correct about him being “a fantastic pianist”, then maybe he should let us all enjoy his piano-playing talents and quit pretending to be a great conductor.

  • Alexander says:

    speaking lofty – kingly virtue is not his friend ? 😉

  • Lohengrinloh says:

    Everyone was very much disappointed by his absence. Mr. Güttler’s conducting was ok but nothing really special compared to Maestro Gergiev’s.

  • bunbun says:

    I was there. When the director explained that he was absent due to the flight delay, the audience laughed. I thought how generous the Vienna audience is.

    • Rusalka says:

      You know what: the Viennese audience is fed up with these bad manners of this Putinist. He arrived 5 min. before the beginning of the first Lohengrin. Last Thursday the performance started 20 min. late because if him. And on Sunday he didn’t show up in time as well. This is just an insult and he should not get any more engagement here.

  • Mario Lutz says:

    He is a frequent delayer:
    —-> ” Hailing from Dresden, the conductor MICHAEL GÜTTLER has, thanks to his recent spectacular last-minute stand-in for Valery Gergiev for both Der Ring and Parsifal at the Mariinsky Theatre, come to the fore as one of the leading young conductors of his generation.”<—- https://www.wiener-staatsoper.at/en/artists/artist-detail/artist/929-guettler-michael/

  • VienneseOperaLover says:

    Helplessly overrated and much to full of himself. Such a disrespect to anyone but himself. Hopefully those directors like Meyer will remember these incidents when booking the next time.

  • Alex says:

    Haha, you are just not aware that Gergiev as very well known to be late almost every time while conducting in his Mariinsky theater in St. Petersburg. You would always have extra 15 minutes if he is conducting. People barely complain as he is kind of big star over here (personally – I still do not understand why, although it is mater of taste) but his being constantly late is absolutely well known here.

    • Rusalka says:

      Thanks god Austria is not Russia. Here are people treated the same. No nomenclature privileges in Western Europe. No insults to the colleagues and the audience accepted.

  • Luca says:

    Better than not turning up at all like certain people I’ll refrain from naming….

  • Laurence says:

    He’s always been like that. When I worked with him in San Francisco he would regularly turn up 20-30 minutes late. American orchestras really don’t like that sort of thing, but I think most orchestras feel the same way.


      Laurence what do you think of him as a conductor he did come once to Northern Ireland (were I am from) and conducted some operatic excerpts. He was just OK as far as I am concerned

  • Ben G. says:

    The real reason for all of these delays is that he ran out of toothpicks for his conducting purposes.

  • EricB says:

    Nothing new. I was stage manager at the Orange Antique Theater in 1995 or 1996, when he showed up 30 mn late without being reachable at all, with 8000 people waiting for the show to start…
    Not comfortable….

  • CYM says:

    A Swan exit ?

  • Robert Manno says:

    Capable of delivering convincing performances, but at the core a gluttonous ego-driven pawn of a murderous dictator.

    • Nik says:

      “Capable” is a moot point. It’s been a long time since he really delivered the goods.

      • Sam says:

        Wholeheartedly disagree. His performance of the Dance of the Knights from Romeo and Juliet at the Summer Concert in Vienna in 2018 was by far the best version of it I’ve ever heard.

  • pageturner says:

    I know this would cut down the number of commitments he could make, but perhaps he should start taking flights that get him to his destination on the day before he has to pick up a toothpick and conduct anything. Quality before quantity is no bad thing. Otherwise I will continue to credit the assistants employed to prepare his concerts, etc. They generally do a very passable job, but Mr Late Arrival all too often gets the credit (and the big money).

  • Gustavo says:

    They could have asked John Williams.

    He was in town that day.

  • Charles says:


  • Christopher says:

    He was not missed. The audience was apprehensive that Peter beczala was being replaced. Luckily he was there and sang a truly wonderful lohengrin. One of the best I have seen in 50 years. This guy is the real deal.

  • MacroV says:

    I’ve seen Gergiev conduct about a dozen times in Russia and elsewhere around the world. Most have been quite memorable. But they have sometimes involved tardiness. In Yerevan once the concert started about an hour late – though in that case I think we were made to wait not for Gergiev, but for the President. Then they added to the announced program the Prokofiev 3rd concerto with an Armenian soloist (nice to feature a local musician, in any event). Concert ended up going about 3 hours; Gergiev generally delivers good value when he finally shows up.

    Less charming a couple years earlier during a performance of Die Walkure at the Bolshoy, when the intermissions ran close to an hour; made it a challenge to remain awake during Wotan’s farewell.

    Memorable, but it does make one appreciate U.S. union rules.

  • Fliszt says:

    Gergiev is nonchalant and irresponsible, period.

  • Alexander Tarak says:

    He may have lost his toothpick (the one he uses for conducting).
    If so, you would have thought that a conductor of his stature would carry a few spares.

  • Alexander Tarak says:

    Never been convinced by Gergiev.
    Fun to watch though.

  • Po says:

    I don‘t remember he did that in London when he led LSO, at least not the ones I attended. Either he lived in London then (Russians got luxury, money-laundry scale houses in central London) or he was afraid of Londoners. We fired him nevertheless.
    While his orchestra sound was a bit messy, I think he is not bad. Better than another “worse-than-most” conductor we also fired and now popular in Vienna.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      It is noticeable that Gergiev hasn’t been back to London to guest conduct. In his last year as chief conductor at the LSO he only did three concert programmes at the Barbican…

  • Richard van der Graaf says:

    Incredible what an insult.What a low cultural asset.Shou
    d be boycotted by the famous Opera houses

  • Allen says:

    According to a colleague who performed in this run of Lohengrin, Gergiev was on-time for opening night as well as the 2nd performance (which I myself attended). It was only on January 16th that he arrived 15 minutes late due to travel problems. And that would all make sense because there would be no reason for him to be late for opening night since he was already in Vienna then.
    Furthermore, how often do such travel problems cause him to miss a performance? Maybe once a year at most? If so, look at his busy schedule and you will see that this amounts to less than 1% of his performances which is well worth the risk.

  • Luca says:

    Some remarkably silly remarks about this very fine conductor. They sound like schoolboys’ taunts.

  • adabei says:

    Gergievs Wiener Terminplan der letzten Woche:

    11. 1. Öffentliche Generalprobe für die Jeunesse

    12. 1. Lohengrin

    Am 10. 1. 11.1., 12.1. vorm. und 14. 1. Konzerte in Wien im Konzerthaus und Musikverein

    15. 1. Lohengrin

    Am 15. wurde er in der Staatsoper mit lauten Buhs empfangen. Und da für den 19. 1. bereits ein anderer Dirigent zur Verfügung stand, müssen hier schon vorab irgendwelche Kontroversen gelaufen sein, denn woher sollte Direktor Meyer wissen, dass Gergiev wieder zu spät kommen würde?

    Am. 18. war Gergiev in Baden Baden…… Flugverspätung nach Wien? Liegt immerhin schon auf dem Weg nach Hamburg, wo er am 20. 1. dirigiert hat.

    Solche Eskapaden hat sich nicht einmal Carlos Kleiber erlaubt, von dessen künstlerischer Einzigartigkeit Herr Gergiev meilenweit entfernt ist.

  • marty says:

    Well no-one is saying, but it was a set up job. How come Guttler was already prepared in the wings to stand in- and he is the guest conductor at the Mariinsky….

  • Ilmar says:

    Insolence! His engagements outside of the Putin Empire should be summarily cancelled; there is plenty of great young talent to fill that “gap” — if any

  • marty says:

    And at the end of the performance everyone came on stage for a 15 minute presentation to Linda Watson (Ortrud) who was honoured as a Kammersaenger. I dont imagine that the Maestro would have wanted to hang around on stage for that long, and not be in the limelight. I think Meyer was just trying to save face by coming up with delayed flights – he never turned up to take over from Michael Guettler.

  • Howard Steinhardt says:

    Have been thoroughly hypnotized by his London Philharmonic performance of Ravel’s Bolero (YouTube) probably done in 2010. Audieence ressponse was overwhelming