VIENNA - Frenchman Dominique Meyer has been named the new director of Vienna's famed State Opera, the Austrian government said on Wednesday.
Bulgarian singer Nadia Krasteva (R) and Marian Talaba of Ukraine perform on stage during a dress rehearsal of Modest Mussorgsky's opera 'Boris Godunov' as Marina and Grigori at Vienna's State Opera in this file photo from May 24, 2007. [Reuters]
Meyer, now overseeing the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris, will replace Ioan Holender at the helm of the Austrian capital's cultural flagship from the 2010-11 season, Culture Minister Claudia Schmied said in a statement.
Local media said Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, an opera aficionado, had originally wanted American tenor Neil Shicoff, a personal friend, for the prestigious post overseeing three opera houses, two concert halls and other related venues.
Schmied denied reports of differences with Gusenbauer over the next State Opera director, saying she had consulted with him throughout before making her decision.
"An interesting choice," Gusenbauer said in a statement, adding that Shicoff would have been an "outstanding director" but that Meyer was also highly qualified for the job.
In another change, Franz Welser-Moest, an Austrian now chief conductor at the Cleveland Orchestra, will become music director of the Vienna "Staatsoper," replacing Seiji Ozawa.
Meyer demonstrated a knowledge of conversational German in a state television interview on Wednesday night while conceding he was not very familiar with Vienna's cultural high society.
But Schmid said Meyer had 13 years of experience leading an opera and worldwide contacts with cultural authorities as well as Vienna's Philharmonic orchestra musicians.