For months, the Berlin State Opera, one of many world’s premier opera homes, has been in a state of uncertainty. Its revered chief, the conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim, resigned in January after three a long time in cost due to well being issues. Musicians and cultural leaders questioned whether or not anybody would have the ability to match his impression and affect.
However on Wednesday, German officers mentioned they’d discovered their maestro: the acclaimed Wagnerian Christian Thielemann, the principal conductor of the Staatskapelle orchestra in Dresden, who will take over as common music director of the Berlin State Opera in September 2024.
“With Christian Thielemann, we’re not solely gaining a world-class conductor, but additionally the logical successor to the nice maestro and honorary citizen of Berlin, Daniel Barenboim,” Joe Chialo, Berlin’s senator for tradition, mentioned in an announcement.
Thielemann, 64, the inheritor to storied maestros like Wilhelm Furtwängler and Herbert von Karajan, for whom he as soon as served as an assistant, praised the opera home’s “lengthy and illustrious custom” and thanked Barenboim for his “for his great work and fixed help.”
“I’m subsequently very happy to be returning to my hometown and main the home into the longer term,” he mentioned in an announcement.
Barenboim, who has recognized Thielemann since he when he was 19, mentioned that “his musical expertise was already apparent again then and he has since developed into one of many excellent conductors of our time.” He mentioned he was happy to see him take the helm of the opera and its famend orchestra, the Staatskapelle Berlin.
“I’ve been on the helm of those very particular musical establishments for over 30 years, and I’m certain that, beneath the management of Christian Thielemann, they may proceed to keep up and increase their distinctive place in Berlin and worldwide musical life,” he mentioned in an announcement.
Thielemann, who’s from Berlin and led the Deutsche Oper there from 1997 to 2004, will face important challenges on the State Opera, together with restoring a way of stability after a tumultuous interval.
The establishment has been in flux over the previous couple years as Barenboim, 80, a towering determine in classical music who has constructed a creative empire in Berlin and helped outline German tradition after reunification, grappled with well being points. He was identified final 12 months with a severe neurological situation, and he mentioned in January that the sickness made it inconceivable for him to hold out his duties.
The uncertainty of his situation positioned strains on the opera home. It was left scrambling to search out substitutes for Barenboim, together with for a extremely anticipated new manufacturing of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle final 12 months, for which Barenboim tapped Thielemann on the final minute.
Thielemann and Barenboim have an advanced historical past. When Thielemann was on the Deutsche Oper, he complained publicly about its low stage of presidency help in contrast with Barenboim’s State Opera. On the identical time, accusations unfold that Thielemann had made antisemitic feedback about Barenboim, who’s Jewish. The 2 males by no means broke, and have spoken and met frequently through the years.
When he stepped in for Barenboim final 12 months, Thielemann deepened his bond with the Staatskapelle Berlin and have become a favourite of the orchestra’s gamers, who have been influential in his choice.
Thielemann rose to prominence in his 20s, profitable posts at German opera homes, together with in Düsseldorf and Nuremberg. He led the Munich Philharmonic from 2004 to 2011, leaving amid disagreements with the orchestra’s managers. He served as music director of the Bayreuth Competition in Germany, a showcase for Wagner’s work, from 2015 till 2020. He was the creative director of the Salzburg Easter Competition in Austria, based by von Karajan, from 2013 till final 12 months.
Whereas he was as soon as an everyday in america, he has lowered his commitments there considerably over the previous couple a long time. However final 12 months, he made a triumphant return, taking the rostrum of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the primary time since 1995 in performances of Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony.
Succeeding Barenboim won’t be straightforward. Throughout his tenure, he introduced the Staatskapelle to new heights, main worldwide excursions and securing a whole lot of thousands and thousands in authorities grants to finance his ambitions. He persuaded officers to construct the Pierre Boulez Saal, a Frank Gehry-designed corridor housed in the identical constructing as a music academy. And he pushed a pricey renovation of the opera home’s most important theater that was completed in 2017. The State Opera final 12 months had 587 workers and a price range of roughly 81.4 million euros, or about $85.9 million.
Barenboim maintained his grip on energy, regardless of occasional troubles. In 2019, members of the Staatskapelle accused him of bullying; later that 12 months, although, the opera home, saying that it couldn’t confirm the accusations, prolonged his contract.
As his well being worsened final 12 months, Barenboim initially resisted resigning his publish and advised family and friends that he deliberate to return to the rostrum. However at the same time as he saved up some appearances, attending rehearsals and educating courses in Berlin, it grew to become more and more obvious that he might not lead the opera home full time.