Monday, June 26, 2017

Washington National Opera: Departure of Phillipe Auguin

I realize I forgot to write a post about this: Phillipe Auguin's contract is not being renewed, and he becomes music director emeritus, at Washington National Opera at the completion of the 2017-18 season. "Not renewed" seems pretty blunt: the company didn't want him back. If conductor and company hadn't been able to come to an agreement, the announcement would have said he had decided to leave.

Here's what Francesca Zambello said about his departure. It sounds as though there will be less opera, done on a smaller scale, at WNO than there has been:
“I think he served the company very well,” said Zambello, WNO’s artistic director, by phone on Monday. “Eight years is a good tenure to have.” She also said, “I think he is evolving toward a different aspect of his career, and we are evolving toward different needs from a music director.” The company is focusing, she said, more on American works and projects such as the American Opera Initiative, which involves 20-minute and hour-long new operas. The big Wagnerian repertoire, she said, “is not really in our financial ranges right now.” But Auguin “will stay part of our music family. He’s back this season, and in future seasons.” He will conduct Verdi’s “Don Carlo” — the final opera of his official tenure — at WNO in March.
Anne Midgette's subsequent article about Auguin's depature pulls no punches. Draw your own conclusions, or I'll draw them for you: he was under-used (music director not involved with artistic planning??) and perhaps he and Zambello were as oil and water.
Current list of known openings:
  • Seattle Symphony when Ludovic Morlot leaves
  • Dallas Symphony Orchestra (when Jaap van Zweden takes up his new post at the NYPO)
  • Milwaukee Symphony
  • Shanghai Symphony Orchestra
  • San Diego Symphony
  • Vienna Staatsoper / VPO (Dominique Meyer not planning to appoint a WSO MD; his contract expires in 2020.)
  • Dresden Philharmonic: 2019 departure for Michael Sanderling
  • MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony: 2018 departure for Kristian Jarvi
  • Scottish Chamber Orchestra: 2018 departure for Robin Ticciati
  • Orchestre National de Lyon: open now, with Leonard Slatkin's departure
  • Brno Philharmonic: open since 2015
  • Singapore Symphony: 2019 departure for Lan Shui
  • Vienna RSO: 2018 departure for Cornelius Meister
  • Toronto SO: 2018 departure for Peter Oundjian
  • Winnipeg SO: 2018 departure for Alexander Mickelthwate
  • Czech Philharmonic, following death of Jiří Bělohlávek
  • Hamburg Symphony, following death of Sir Jeffrey Tate
  • Washington National Opera, departure of Philippe Auguin at conclusion of 2017-18 
  • San Francisco Opera, departure of Nicola Luisotti at conclusion of 2017-18
  • Opera North: open now, with Aleksandr Markovic's departure
  • Bavarian State Opera: with Kirill Petrenko going to Berlin and KP's Munich contract through 2021, it's sort of implied that he'll give up Munich
  • Opera Theatre of Saint Louis: 2017 is Stephen Lord's final season as MD
I am curious about all of these, but of course the San Francisco Opera opening is closest to home.

Conductors looking for jobs (that is, as of the near future, or now, they do not have a posting):

  • Sian Edwards
  • Jun Markl
  • Ingo Metzmacher
  • Bramwell Tovey
  • Jac van Steen
  • Mark Wigglesworth
  • Simone Young 
  • David Robertson
  • Peter Oundjian as of the end of 2017-18
  • Nicola Luisotti
And closed:
  • Vancouver Symphony; Otto Tausk comes on in 2018
  • Orchestra Nationale de France; Emmanuel Krivine takes the post in 2017.
  • NDR Elbphilharmonie: Alan Gilbert becomes MD (or chief conductor) in the 2019-20 season.
  • St. Louis Symphony Orchestra; Stéphane Denève to succeed David Robertson
  • Hong Kong Philharmonic; Jaap van Zweden's contract extended through summer of 2022
  • City of Birmingham SO; Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla appointed 2/4/2016, succeeding Andris Nelsons
  • New York Philharmonic; Jaap Van Zweden appointed, 1/27/16, succeeding Alan Gilbert
  • National Symphony Orchestra; Gianandrea Noseda appointed, 1/4/2016, succeeding Christoph Eschenbach.
  • Leipzig Gewandhaus: Andris Nelsons appointed, 9/9/2015
  • LSO: Simon Rattle appointed, 3/2/2015
  • Orchestra de Paris: Daniel Harding, 6/11/2015
  • Berlin Philharmonic: Kirill Petrenko appointed, 6/22/2015
  • BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Thomas Dausgaard succeeds Donald Runnicles in September, 2016


Geo. said...

Forgot about one other orchestra opening, namely the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, where Ivan Fischer leaves after next season. No successor in the wings as of yet.

Also, you can strike the Orchestre National de France from your list of openings, as Emmanuel Krivine takes over next season. As well, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra hired Otto Tausk to take over from Bramwell Tovey in 2018.

An interesting parallel thread that you could talk about is the flip side of "orchestras seeking conductors", namely, conductors of some prominence and name recognition who don't have major posts now, or are soon not to have major posts. Peter Oundjian is a case of the latter, since he has 2 major orchestra posts now, but as of the end of the 2017-2018 season, he will have left both those posts. Others more in the former category who come to mind include:
* Sian Edwards
* Jun Markl
* Ingo Metzmacher
* Bramwell Tovey
* Jac van Steen
* Mark Wigglesworth
* Simone Young

thedentist said...

Might want to make a correction of Mirga's last name. It is Grazinyte-Tila; you have the "yt" as "ty", not to mention the extra diacriticals.

Provocative post... Thanks!

Anonymous said...


The stressed syllables are gražiNYtė-tyLA. And if my ear does not deceive me, there is a falling tone on the NY syllable. Lithuanian has a pitch accent system (inherited from proto-Indo-European), according to which a long vowel in a stressed syllable may have a tone on it (rising or falling, if I understood the Wikipedia article correctly).

Lisa Hirsch said...

I will fix that misspelling of MGT, but it is now fairly old and appears in various postings, all of which i am NOT going to fix. My current practice is to copy/paste because otherwise I'll have to look up how to type the diacriticals every time.

Geo, David Robertson doesn't have a job after he leaves St. Louis, far as I know. Do I list Semyon Bychkov? He doesn't seem to want a permanent gig.