Exclusive: Zurich loses artistic director

The experienced Russian director Michael Fichtenholz is leaving Zurich Opera after just three years as artistic director.

The official line is this: Michael Fichtenholz has decided to leave Zurich Opera House at the end of the current 2020/2021 season after three successful seasons…. We are very sorry to see Michael leave the Opera House, but we support his artistic aspirations and wish him all the best for the future. Until the end of this season, Michael Fichtenholz will remain responsible for all ongoing tasks and for further planning.

Not a word has been reported in the Swiss press.

Behind the departure, we hear there were a number of human relations issues with younger members of the company.

 

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  • “Human Relation Issues with younger members of the company?”
    What does this translate as… I don’t think we’ve heard it called that before!

  • Glad to hear he has been removed, but with such a glowing commendation, I wonder how long it will be until he is hired elsewhere, and traumatizes another group of young artists.

  • It’s severances like this that allow people like him to go on to the next thing, unpunished. It is well known in the industry that he has gotten away with this predatory behaviour for years. Shame on Zürich Opera for their lack of conviction here.

  • I’ve worked with Mikhail for a number of years and always found his ears sound, and reasonable in negotiation. No need for all the bile in the comments section – let’s wish him well in whatever the future holds!

  • 3 successful seasons? It is not his fault, but 2019/20 ended in March and 2020/21 has not really started yet.
    I believe his predecessor (Sophie de Lint) was basically casting director (and quite successful too). If Fichtenholz wanted to be more than that, he was on collision course with Homoki. And with the advance planning customary in opera houses, he has not had much chance to make a mark in this short time.

  • I first met Mikhail Fichtenholtz in Moscow in 2012 and was immediately impressed by his tremendous knowledge of the repertoire and singers. I knew that he would make his way in an important manner, and he has
    . I can only say that working with him has always been excellent,whether in Moscow or where he was afterwards up to and including Zurich. I hope he will find right next opportunity soon.

    • Well, at least in Zurich the casting was dreadful and always unbalanced – maybe sometimes there was one good cast member and all the rest were a bad joke, so no way one could experience a proper opera performance in Zurich lately… so I really cannot agree that this guy had any good knowledge of singers and repertoire… He most probably got what he deserved!
      Hope the next one will be more wise and will know how to distinguish great voices from the mediocre ones which he invited

      • Mit dieser Meinung bin ich nun überhaupt nicht einverstanden, im Gegenteil, ich finde sie absurd. Was hinter den Kulissen abging entzieht sich meiner Kenntnis, aber er hat uns tolle Sänger und Sängerinnen gebracht. Dass ein kleines Haus wie Zürich nur Stars engagieren kann ist a) finanziell nicht möglich b) nicht nötig und c) auch nicht Andreas Homokis Konzept. Ich habe in den letzten drei Jahren viele tolle Sänger*innen erlebt, gerade auch junge, wunderbare Kräfte. Wie man so etwas in die Welt hinausposaunen kann ist mir ein Rätsel und da dürfte sich der eine oder die andere dafür bedanken.

  • Opinionated, direct and passionate with the best casting ear and passion for finding undiscovered talent, Zurich’s loss will be someone else’s gain.

    • Opinionated = Wholly unprofessional
      Direct = Two-faced
      Passionate = Egomaniacal

      Zürich’s ‘loss’ will be someone else’s trauma / nightmare.

  • Christian Berzins

    Eigenartige interne Nachrichten aus dem Opernhaus Zürich: Operndirektor Michael Fichtenholz verlässt das Haus. In der internen Mitteilung heisst es, er habe entschieden, nach drei erfolgreichen Spielzeiten das Opernhaus Zürich per Ende der laufenden Saison 2020/2021 zu verlassen. “Michael möchte sich nach 12 Jahren in führenden Positionen an internationalen Opernhäusern in Russland, Deutschland und in der Schweiz ab Herbst 2021 neuen künstlerischen Aufgaben widmen, unter anderem dem internationalen Consulting.”
    Fichtenholz wird gedankt für seine kreativen Ideen in der schwierigen Zeit der Pandemie. “Wir bedauern sehr, dass Michael sich vom Opernhaus verabschiedet, doch wir unterstützen seine künstlerischen Bestrebungen und wünschen ihm alles Gute für die Zukunft.” Was der Satz heisst “Wir werden Optionen für die weitere optimale Aufstellung der Operndirektion überlegen”? Bis zum Ende dieser Spielzeit bleibt Fichtenholz für alle laufenden Aufgaben und für die weitere Planung zuständig.

  • The same things occurred at his previous theater. They were reported to the Intendant. The Intendant did nothing. It should have been a scandal then. It CERTAINLY should be a scandal now. The Intendant is the Secretary of Opera Europa.

  • The facial expression the picture above seems to be telling us something — a certain hauteur, perhaps?

  • He’s known for hiring his “friends”- this quality of him brings unprofessional decisions and a lack of quality to his casting decisions. For young singers who didn’t caress his ego it’s been very difficult to develop healthily. He’s two faced and not trustable at all. His god complex makes him look like he knows so much. He barely knows singers/important voices from the 20th century and his taste refers to the recording industry from the past 20 -30 years.

    • As a young singer who has suffered directly at his hands because I didn’t caress his ego, or anything else, I could not agree more with this. Disappointed that OHZ have chosen to be passive but not really surprised. Seems as though people know what’s really going on, so can only hope that he gets the karma he deserves.

  • He’s known for hiring his “friends”- this quality of him brings unprofessional decisions and a lack of quality to his casting decisions. For young singers who didn’t caress his ego it’s been very difficult to develop healthily. He’s two faced and not trustable at all. His god complex makes him look like he knows so much. He barely knows singers/important voices from the 20th century and his taste refers to the recording industry from the past 20 -30 years.

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