German conductor Christian Thielemann will succeed Israeli-Argentinian maestro Daniel Barenboïm as director of the Berlin Staatsoper, whom the latter left for health reasons, the prestigious German institution announced on Wednesday. In January, the 80-year-old pianist and conductor, suffering from a serious neurological illness, announced his resignation from the Staatsoper, one of the three opera houses in the German capital, located in the former eastern part of the city. .
The head of Culture in Berlin, Joe Chialo, indicated that Christian Thielemann, who has regularly conducted the Berlin Staatsoper orchestra, the Staatskapelle, will succeed Barenboïm from September 2024. This was “the wish of the orchestra », insisted Joe Chialo during a press conference. Christian Thielemann is considered the "perfect successor" to Barenboim, representing "the highest musical excellence."
Aged 64, the German conductor said he wanted to mix tradition and renewal, taking inspiration from cities like New York to offer cheaper and shorter matinee performances in order to attract a younger audience. Appointed for five years, he intends to leave a large place to operas because, according to him, they deal with questions that are still current.
Asked about his style, while Daniel Barenboïm is renowned for his firmness, Christian Thielemann described himself as “someone who likes to listen”. Last year, his production at the Staatsoper du Ring, Richard Wagner's famous tetralogy also known as The Ring of the Nibelung in French, was "unanimously described as phenomenal", according to the German daily Berliner Zeitung.
Besides Wagner, he is known to appreciate Johannes Brahms, Richard Strauss. The German conductor, born in Berlin, is under contract until next year with the Staatskapelle of Dresden (east), whose orchestra he directs, one of the most renowned in the German-speaking world.
A protégé of the legendary Herbert von Karajan, Christian Thielemann was general musical director of the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, an opera house in the west of the capital, but resigned in 2004 due to a financing dispute with the city. He also regularly worked with Daniel Barenboïm, whose assistant he was at the age of 19 at the Deutsche Oper.
In a letter read to the press, the Argentinian maestro praised Thielemann's “extraordinary musical talent”, which appeared during his adolescence. “He went on to become one of the best conductors of our time,” the 80-year-old maestro wrote.
Barenboïm began on the international scene as a pianist at the age of 10, before becoming a leading conductor. Despite his illness, he performed several times this year, including at a sold-out open-air concert in Berlin's Waldbühne with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, a band he founded. created in 1999 and bringing together Israeli and Arab musicians.