So the next Vienna Opera music director will be …

So the next Vienna Opera music director will be …


norman lebrecht

October 03, 2022

Philippe Jordan’s weekend declaration that he will quit the Vienna Sate Opera no later than 2025 suggests that communication has broken down – again – between the director on the top floor and the conductor in the pit.

Much the same happened with Franz Welser-Möst in 2014 and, before that, with Claudio Abbado in 1991. Musical considerations are never going to be uppermost in a house that depends on passing tourist trade and transient political connections.

Still there will be no shortage of applicants for the vacant music director’s post. Bogdan Roščić will already have put in a call to his former Sony artist Teodor Currentzis, a timely call since Currentzis has just lost his job in Stuttgart. Christian Thielemann will be next on his list (he will refuse) and there is no shortage of mid-career maestros who will want to add Gustav Mahler’s old job to their CVs.

But the job these days is worthless. The music director’s wishes go unheeded. The programme is all Schein and no Sein – all for show and no existential substance.

Currentzis, come to think of it, could be ideal.


  • Dixie says:

    Good God! Heaven forbid!!

  • Emil says:

    Isn’t Currentzis known for demanding insanely long rehearsal times? If so, he’d be a disastrous fit in a house that works on extremely quick turnarounds.

  • Alan says:

    Wow. Currenztis loses his job after months of persecution on this site but that’s still not enough. You have to put the boot in regarding a job he may not even be offered.

    Would you ever just let up and leave him alone. Or maybe try waking a mile in the shoes of someone living under the rule of a lunatic.

    • Anastasios Nikolopoulos says:

      Well, he has a home in Greece and a Greek passport: he doesn’t have to put up with the “lunatic” ruler.

  • Coleman Silk says:

    Vienna Phil, who sit in the pit, will never accept him. He once conducted them at Mozartwoche in Salzburg and was never invited again. Musicians weren’t convinced at all …

  • Tamino says:

    If we just could find a way to focus on music again instead of people, the music world would be a much better place.

    Of course that would be a problem for all who are not in the business of music, but in the business of talking (about it), or making their cut from the market value of names, but maybe all these highway hitmen also could find ways to help building the bridges to bring art to humanity. I’ll keep dreaming…

  • Novagerio says:

    However one analyses it, it’s a waste of taxpayers money.

    “Much the same happened with Franz Welser-Möst in 2014 and, before that, with Claudio Abbado in 1991” – and Böhm in 1955, Karajan in 1964 and Maazel in 1984.

  • Matthias says:

    It won’t be Currentzis, I think the Vienna Phil dislike him as a conductor. His style doesn’t fit the orchestra at all. Even though they don’t get to make the decision, their opinion will be heard.

    Btw, NL, did you ever acknowledge or apologize for spreading that fake news about Russian orchestras supposedly selling out Viennese concert halls?

  • Karl Keller says:

    Currentzis will never happen. Philippe Jordans contract was not renewed for one main reason- he did not have the orchestras, the Vienna Phil, vote. The Staatsoper is the Staatsoper in large part due to the fact that they have one of the best orchestras playing in the pit night after night. They are going to play a large factor in who is appointed the next GMD.

    However, something to consider. Roscic may be the public figurehead of the Staatsoper, but the man actually in charge and running everything behind the scenes is Michael Lewin. Just look at the list of mediocre conductors who have been given a prominent role at the Staatsoper since Roscic was appointed- Eun Sun Kim, Thomas Guggeis, Alexander Soddy, Ramón Tebar, Yoel Gamzou, Joana Mallwitz, Sebastian Weigle. Bertrand de Billy and Simone Young also conduct a lot at the Staatsoper, and are slightly better conductors than the previous names. Not to mention Philippe Jordan. They are all Lewin artists. All of them.

    If I was a betting man, I would bet the next GMD is going to be chosen by Michael Lewin. Perhaps his most prominent client. Someone who the Vienna Phil would also accept- Kirill Petrenko.

    • Emil says:

      Why would Petrenko leave the Berlin Phil for Vienna’s opera? He’s at the top, he barely arrived, and he won’t leave unless he really wants to. And the Berlin Phil will not accept an MD with another post, especially not in Vienna. He’s not Karajan, and these are not Karajan’s orchestras.

    • Agents says:

      When will someone write a profile on Michael Lewin? He seems to be the most important agent in the world, and yet we know nothing about him.

      • Dixie says:

        I know Michael Lewin from my Standing Room days. If I were to write a profile on ihm, he would take legal Action. Get the picture?

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      @KK: Well said. Lewin’s influence in Europe generally and Vienna in particular is enormous and baleful.

    • Dixie says:

      You just hit the nail in the head. I have lived in Vienna since 1969 and have seen and heard it all. Roscic is not qualified and depends on Lewin to the detriment of the State Opera. Success or failure depends on the conductor. A good conductor can even sporn a mediocre cast to unknown heights, a poor conductor can destroy the best cast imagineable. Add to that the fact that there is a new Generation in the Orchestra that is floundering. I attended the Carmen this Season and was SHOCKED by the lousy orchestral quality, especially from the violins. After I looked into the orchestra pit, I understood: I saw NOBODY I knew. All greenhorns! Given Lewin‘s dominance, also regarding singers, the Austrian Government should make Lewin Opera Director and ditch Roscic! We Oldtimers have reduced attendance in the Vienna State Opera to a bare Minimum. When I think back on all the wonderful Performances I have experienced there, it breaks my Operagoer Heart …

    • Claudio says:

      Has Petrenko ever conducted Vienna Phil?

    • Hermann Lederer says:

      Most of these „mediocre“ conductors work in all the major opera houses in the world… Most of them don’t need Vienna, but a system with nearly 50 different operas a year need good, professional conductors. There are not so many who are so much better and willing to work in Vienna.

  • Burnham says:

    Take Muti please!

    • Novagerio says:

      Burnham: Are you totally crazy ???? Muti wants not only to rehearse a lot, but to micro-manage everything, besides asking the singers to stand still Center stage and just look at him!
      The Staatsoper never rehearse, unless it’s a new production!

    • Dixie says:

      You must be joking!

  • Alviano says:

    Alptraum am Ring

  • zarmosas says:

    Tugan Sokhiev now free from Bolshoi and ONCT will be a better choice

  • Loge says:

    Wiener Staatsoper needs a charismatic MD, with experience and an important repertoire. My choice is Riccardo Chailly.

    • Tristan says:

      they don’t need anyone as they do not have a Chief conductor either! Save money and find a sensible Boss who understands a bit of music and not someone like the current one! Chailly is a so poor at La Scala so please keep him there with boring Monsieur Meyer.
      Barenboim should finally leave Berlin, they German call them ‘Sesselfurzer’ – the only fabulous symbiose was the highly sensible connoisseur Bachler with the greates Maestro alive Kiril Petrenko in Munich – that’s now the past…also Pappano is fabulous at ROH! Thielemann was a failure in Dresden (but he is all over though when in the pit with his repertoire one tends to forget his awful personality…)
      My wish would be finding capable people to run houses (no artists!) and maybe some good critics again to right about most of the rubbish on German stages as our world has become a club of mediocre and useless protagonists…

      • Claudio says:

        Every time hearing about Thieleman’s horrible personality, I am urging to know some examples of it. Could you share any?

  • Claudio says:

    Petrenko – no way.
    Gatti – already starts Dresden after 2024.
    Thielemann – that’s even not funny, he will take Berlin job.
    Nelsons – this one can try to fit all three chairs, but without success, of course.

    Guggeis – a good young manageable option, I would seek options in this direction.
    Heras Casado?

    • Dixie says:

      You are right about the big names. However you are completely wrong as regards all the rest. Not one of them can handle the Wiener Philharmoniker in their current floundering form.

      • Claudio says:

        You are right, but does Vienna management wants a conductor who manage the Staatsoper, or a conductor to be managed by Staatsoper? I think they want second option.

  • Adrian says:

    No, please no! The end of civilization and the triumph of Putin!

  • Pedro says:

    Thielemann is my choice. He is the best conductor for the job. He is supreme in Wagner and Strauss and I have heard a great Tosca conducted by him. He knows quite well the Staatsoper and the VPO. His Frau ohne Schatten there was one of the best performances I have heard in my life.

    • Novagerio says:

      Pedro: They wont even ask him cos they already know his answer. He’ll take Berlin Unter den Linden when time is ripe.
      Er ist ein Berliner.

      • Pedro says:

        Maybe but the VPO is more appealing. Muti and Barenboim being too old, Gatti being in Dresden, Thielemann going to Berlin, Chailly being in Milan, I would very much like to have Salonen at the Staatsoper but I’m afraid they will choose Rattle.

  • Stephan von Cron says:

    Esa-Pekka Salonen or Daniele Gatti are probably the only two who could motivate the Philharmoniker in the pit to regain their extraordinary potential. I also heard them play a “Don Pasquale” like pigs when a student : they gave the conductor what he deserved. Regardless of house politics, seen the portion of state budget alloted to this house, none but the greatest should be nurtured, and they have become few and far between….