22 July 2007

Edo de Waart Named New Chief Conductor at Santa Fe Opera

Santa Fe Opera general director Richard Gaddes announced today that esteemed Dutch conductor Edo de Waart, who made his American debut at the New Mexico company in 1971 and has since gone on to conduct in the United States, Europe, Australia and Asia, has been named as its new chief conductor, effective October 1, 2007.

De Waart has agreed to a four-year contract with the company, which will find him conducting at least one opera each summer, beginning with Billy Budd in 2008. The title of chief conductor, in contrast to that of music director, will make de Waart's primary responsibility the oversight of the company's orchestra, though he will also reportedly consult with Gaddes and the opera's artistic department on issues of music and repertory.

"I have known Edo de Waart for nearly forty years," Gaddes is quoted as saying in a press release issued by the company today. "After hearing him conduct in Europe, I encouraged John Crosby to invite him to Santa Fe. He is an extraordinary musician with a reputation for orchestra building. Edo is a good friend and I am certain his presence here will make an impact on the entire company."

"I remember well my American debut in Santa Fe. I conducted The Flying Dutchman and right from that moment The Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe and New Mexico found a special place in my heart," said de Waart, who from 1971 through 1998 conducted ten productions at Santa Fe Opera. "I have been back many times since then and look forward to my new relationship as Chief Conductor. It will be a privilege and a pleasure to work with Richard Gaddes. In my view The Santa Fe Opera is one of the finest musical institutions in the United States and I'm very proud to be associated with such an organization."

De Waart's appointment as the company's chief conductor ostensibly ends the search for a replacement for the company's former music director Alan Gilbert, who officially resigned in May of this year, before the start of the current season, citing time constraints. (Last week Gilbert was announced as the new music director of the New York Philharmonic.) Santa Fe Opera also announced that Kenneth Montgomery, the company's acting music director for the 2007 season, will also conduct three operas between 2008 and 2011.

Currently chief conductor and artistic director at the Hong Kong Philharmonic, de Waart also holds the title of conductor laureate of Holland's Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. Over the span of his career, de Waart has come to be known as something of an "orchestra builder," who has transformed the organizations he's worked with into world-class ensembles. In addition to his posts in Hong Kong and Holland, de Waart has served as chief conductor and artistic director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and chief conductor of the Netherlands Opera; he also served as music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic during the 1970s, the San Francisco Symphony from 1977-85 and the Minnesota Orchestra from 1986 through 1995.

Opera duties have taken de Waart to houses that include Covent Garden, Opéra National de Paris, the Metropolitan Opera and Bayreuth, and he has conducted complete Ring cycles in both San Francisco and Sydney. Likewise, de Waart presided over performances of the world-premiere production of John Adams's Nixon in China at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and recorded the opera with the Orchestra of Saint Luke's on the Nonesuch label. In addition, he has led new productions of Der Rosenkavalier in Paris and Le Nozze di Figaro at the Met.

Born in Amsterdam, de Waart studied oboe, piano and conducting at Amsterdam's Music Lyceum. He became the associate principal oboe of the Netherlands' Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra after graduating, and won the Dimitri Mitropoulos Conducting Competition at the age of 23, resulting in his serving as assistant conductor to Leonard Bernstein at the New York Philharmonic for one year. He was later appointed assistant conductor of the Concertgebouw under the tutelage of Bernard Haitink, before going on to serve as conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic and the Netherlands Wind Ensemble.

More information can be found at Santa Fe Opera and the OPERA NEWS Archives.

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