• Germany's news in English
 

Star Munich opera director Nagano resigns amid controversy

Published: 06 Jul 2010 16:01 GMT+02:00

The California-born artist has led the Bayerische Staatsoper, in addition to the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, since September 2006. But after his contract runs out in 2013, Nagano will leave Munich, he said in a statement.

“Because of cultural policy developments in the last months in Munich – at the State Theater at Gärtnerplatz and at the Munich Philharmonic – and their results, I have decided not to be available for a contract extension as Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera after the summer of 2013,” he said.

Speculation about the famous conductor’s future began several weeks ago, when rumours surfaced that the city’s culture and education minister Wolfgang Heubisch was against keeping the 58-year-old at the opera.

Nagano said he had revealed his decision to prevent “speculation and friction” that would “damage all those involved and be unjust to the noble, singular tradition of the Bavarian State Opera, and the reputation of Munich and its residents.”

The conductor also expressed that he had enjoyed his time in Munich and was thankful for his colleagues who had allowed him to “grow as an artist.”

A spokesperson for the opera declined to comment on the statement, but politicians criticised the city’s cultural policy makers for driving the popular conductor away.

“What Nagano writes is a critique on cultural politic unlike any other I’ve heard from a creative artist,“ Social Democratic state expert on cultural policy Isabell Zacharias said, accusing Heubisch, a Free Democrat, of failing his duties.

Nagano is the third cultural heavyweight to resign from a cultural leadership position in just a few months. Director of the Haus der Kunst art museum Chris Dercon and artistic director of the State Theatre at Gärtnerplatz Ulrich Peters, also recently stepped down.

The exodus was a sign Heubisch had not worked to ensure that "these stars stay here,“ Zacharias said.

Heubisch accepted Nagano’s decision with “great respect and regret.”

It remains unclear who may replace Nagano.

According to Nagano's agency, he is renowned for his musical interpretations and has become a "prominent figure in a new wave of artistic thinking in Germany," known for confrontational programming.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

19:54 July 6, 2010 by Schweigsame
Nagano is not a truly first-rate conductor, and his loss it not a big deal. Far, far more damning to Munich's artistic scene was the loss of Christian Thielemann who is going to Dresden.

Still, Thielemann aside, it's been a while since there was a truly great conductor tied to Munich, and it shows in the level of music making.
08:22 July 7, 2010 by TitusC
It is so rare that forward thinking interpreters like Nagano are not regarded as "truly first rate" as they don't stick to the old and tiring warhorse repertoire while people like Christian Thielemann who do are regarded as such.

A very sad case of cultural boulevard press mentality. "Klassikstar!"
09:53 July 7, 2010 by icemonkey
Bavaria isn't exactly noted for it's being on the cutting edge of the musical scene...
03:43 July 9, 2010 by kamioner
Quite honestly I don't think Nagano cared enough to fight for his job in Munich. His kids will get a better education in the States or in Montreal, his artistic ideal will be respected and he won't have to work with 2nd rate administration. Munich has a reputation for involving musically uneducated leaders, not only in politics, but also the arts. It looks like Stuttgart and Dresden will be the leaders and it's such a pity because there was a time when Munich was considered the top in Germany and the world. Boo.
09:14 July 9, 2010 by halocme
This is not anything new in Germany or Europe. The top-rated artist's future is heavily influenced by politicians in charge. This is because the nation or the state keeps these artistic institutions. When Wolfgang Sawallisch became Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra after 21+ years of GMD of the Bavaria State opera, he was perplexed by the fact that getting private sector money was an important part of the MD's job. In Nagano's case, I personally hope he will find a way to extend his contract, so that the tradition further enriches his artistry. It would be much better if the culture and education minister were replaced, rather than Nagano, because the artistic achievement of the conductor and ensemble should grow with a time scale of ten years.
17:45 July 9, 2010 by gloomzal
Nagano is no Furtwängler or Mahler, but he is not that bad either, and his departure is a loss for Munich for sure. Giving him another 5 or 10 years would have probably yielded good results.

What Nagano gave Munich, and people like Thielemann, Maazel, Jansons, Sawallisch never did was musical innovation and a willingness to conduct new pieces. Thielemann is the worst in this sense. Farewell to him I say.

Just look at Berlin and what they are doing with ticket sales and energy of the Phil. We should remember that an 'essential' part of being great- Strauss, Mahler, Kubelik, Furtwängler was to conduct or compose new music for audiences. The cannon must be protected by growing.
Today's headlines
Poland bridles at German minimum wage
Photo: DPA

Poland bridles at German minimum wage

Germany's newly-introduced €8.50 minimum wage is raising hackles at Polish trucking companies, who say they shouldn't have to pay their drivers at that rate for the hours they spend on their western neighbour's roads. READ  

Life sentences meted out in murder-for-hire
A man photographs an appeal for witnesses in the death of Christin R. in 2012. Photo: DPA

Life sentences meted out in murder-for-hire

A Berlin judge on Thursday sentenced four people to life sentences in a sordid conspiracy murder case in which a pizza delivery driver was paid €500 to kill a young woman for her life insurance. READ  

Jobless numbers rise to top 3 million
Men at work. Photo: DPA

Jobless numbers rise to top 3 million

German jobless numbers rose this month, bringing unemployment up to seven percent, the Federal Labour Agency (BA) reported on Thursday. READ  

Frankfurt man loses airport job over Isis links
Security checks at Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA

Frankfurt man loses airport job over Isis links

In a decision announced on Wednesday, a Frankfurt court upheld the dismissal of a man from his job at Frankfurt airport over his close friendship with a foreign citizen with ties to terrorist group Isis. READ  

Cologne Karneval scraps Charlie Hebdo float
Image courtesy Festkomittee Kölner Karneval

Cologne Karneval scraps Charlie Hebdo float

Cologne's planned Charlie Hebdo float in its Rosenmontag parade was a false start, after the organising committee scrapped its construction over security concerns. READ  

Overnight raids bust up smugglers ring
File photo: DPA

Overnight raids bust up smugglers ring

Federal police arrested 12 people on Wednesday night after a national raid by police broke apart a smuggling ring. READ  

Anti-euro AfD split over Pegida ties
Former Pegida spokesperson Kathrin Oertel and Brandenburg head of AfD Alexander Gauland. Photo: DPA

Anti-euro AfD split over Pegida ties

Germany's upstart anti-euro AfD party will seek to mend a rift among members on whether to forge close ties with an emergent "anti-Islamisation" movement at a congress this weekend. READ  

Court grants kids right to know donor fathers
Photo: DPA

Court grants kids right to know donor fathers

The Supreme Court (BGH) decided on Wednesday that the children of sperm donors have a right to know who their biological father is at any time. READ  

Russia may declare 1990 reunification illegal
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: DPA

Russia may declare 1990 reunification illegal

More than 25 years after the Berlin Wall's fall, Russian lawmakers are mulling a proposal to condemn West Germany's 1990 "annexation" of East Germany as Moscow's answer to Western denunciation of its seizure of Crimea. READ  

No room for scooters on the bus: Court
Photo: DPA

No room for scooters on the bus: Court

A court in North-Rhine Westphalia found on Wednesday that there is no obligation for buses or trains to make room for mobility scooters - and that it's actually dangerous to bring them aboard. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
The rise and spread of Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Photo: DPA
Politics
The Local's report from Pegida's largest ever demonstration.
Sponsored Article
Top-notch tech boosts bilingual schools
National
Six stories that will rock Germany this year
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Photo: DPA
National
What were your favourite news stories of 2014?
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,448
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd