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5 September 2014

Conductor Franz Welser-Möst Quits Post as Vienna State Opera Music Director Citing Conflict with Artistic Director

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Conductor Franz Welser-Möst, who on Friday resigned as music director of the Vienna State Opera
Photo: Roger Mastroianni

Conductor Franz Welser-Möst, music director of at the Vienna State Opera, announced on Friday that he had immediately resigned from his post at the Austrian house and would withdraw from all of his scheduled performances with the company as a result of what he characterized as "irreconcilable differences of opinion regarding the company's artistic planning and profile."

Welser-Möst's resignation, which will require one of the busiest opera houses in the world to find substitute conductors for some thirty-four slated performances this season — including new productions of Rigoletto and Elektra — reportedly ensued from ongoing conflict with the company's artistic director, Dominique Meyer. 

"The differences of opinion between Dominique Meyer and myself over the artistic direction of the Vienna State Opera have not merely occurred overnight," said Welser-Möst, a native of Vienna, who declined to speak with the press but released a statement on Friday. "We have attempted on many occasions to find a resolution, and of course he is entitled to his opinions regarding singers and conductors, and the whole artistic department. However, they will inevitably affect my position and work as general music director."

Welser-Möst's contract at the Vienna State Opera — which produces nearly producing nearly 300 performances opera and ballet performances each year  — was to have run through August 2018. He first conducted at the house in 1987 and became a regular presence on the company's podium in the '90s before being appointed as its music director in 2007. Welser-Möst also currently serves as music director at the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra. On Friday, Cleveland Orchestra executive director Gary Hanson said in a statement that the conductor's relationship with the American orchestra is "not at all in doubt." 

In a statement released to the press, Dominique Meyer admitted that Welser-Möst's abrupt departure amounted to "of course a huge loss, and this step causes me personal pain, too, because I value Franz Welser-Möst very much as an artist and conductor." 

"My first worry and duty is to now find an adequate replacement as quickly as possible for the performances that he should have conducted at the Vienna State Opera," Meyer said. 

The Vienna Philharmonic, the resident orchestra at the Vienna State Opera, released a statement following the announcement of Welser-Möst's resignation, in which its chairman, Andreas Grossbauer, said: "We greatly regret this step. For the Vienna State Opera, this decision comes at the worst possible time — the beginning of the season." Grossbauer statement went on to assure Meyer of the orchestra's "full solidarity and support in this difficult situation in order that the scheduled performances can take place as planned." spacer 

More information can be found at the Vienna State Opera, the New York Times and the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

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