• Germany edition
 
Star Munich opera director Nagano resigns amid controversy
Photo: DPA

Star Munich opera director Nagano resigns amid controversy

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

Don't miss...X
Left Right

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
Merkel targets 'shadow banks' in Lindau speech
Chancellor Angela Merkel opens the 2014 Lindau meetings. Photo: DPA

Merkel targets 'shadow banks' in Lindau speech

Chancellor Angela Merkel has opened an economics conference in Lindau, Bavaria, with a call for more regulation of so-called shadow banks. READ  

Dying town centres seek the miracle cure
A senior couple walk down Delmenhorst's main pedestrian promenade, amid a string of empty shops. Photo: Tomas Urbina

Dying town centres seek the miracle cure

Home to two-thirds of Germany's population, many of its small cities and towns are struggling to revive their declining centres. The Local's Tomas Urbina reports from Delmenhorst in Lower Saxony, as it tries to dig its way out of the economic doldrums. READ  

Quick-thinking trucker stops wrong-way driver
Signs warning drivers against entering a motorway off-road. Photo: DPA

Quick-thinking trucker stops wrong-way driver

Erich Mairleitner thought Tuesday would be another ordinary day hauling a load along the A3 motorway, but found himself the hero of the hour after stepping in to stop an accident. READ  

Germany ready to send arms to Iraqi Kurds
Usula van der Leyen and Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA

Germany ready to send arms to Iraqi Kurds

Germany is ready to send weapons to support Iraqi Kurds in their battle against the "barbaric" jihadist militants of the Islamic State, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Wednesday. READ  

The Local List
10 things to do before summer is really over
Photo: DPA

10 things to do before summer is really over

The German weather service (DWD) is blaming "Wild Wilma" for blanketing the country in cooler temperatures, but we know it's going to get a lot colder before the end of summer. This week's Local List challenges you to take advantage before autumn really sets in. READ  

Energy policy falls foul of federal auditors
Lightning illuminates the sky above a wind turbine. Photo: DPA

Energy policy falls foul of federal auditors

The Federal Court of Auditors (BRH) has sharply criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel's energy policy, saying that the previous coalition government failed to produce adequate financial plans. READ  

China orders German's execution for murders
A paramilitary guard stands inside Beijing's No.1 Detention Centre. Photo: DPA

China orders German's execution for murders

Update: A German man has been condemned to death in China for murdering his ex-girlfriend and her partner in a frenzied attack, it was reported on Wednesday. READ  

German aid planes to Iraq delayed
All filled up and nowhere to go. Photo: DPA

German aid planes to Iraq delayed

A German military flight to the conflict-addled region in northern Iraq has been delayed because Turkey denied landing permission for the layover at Incirlik airbase, according to a spokesman for the air force. READ  

Bomb shuts down A3 motorway
Photo: DPA

Bomb shuts down A3 motorway

A controlled detonation of a 500-kg bomb from the Second World War has left a 20-metre-wide crater in the middle of one of Germany's busiest traffic corridors on Tuesday night. READ  

Saxony schools get top marks
Photo: DPA

Saxony schools get top marks

A country-wide analysis has shown that Saxony has the best schools and Berlin has a lot of homework to do. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? 10 reasons why you should.
Photo: DPA
National
Berlin's senate puts the brakes on Über
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The mysteries of Berlin's abandoned theme park
Photo: DPA
Culture
How I deal with my German Hausmeister
Photo: Ingrid Eulenfan/flickr
Gallery
Nine German treats you'll want to eat right now (and one you won't)
Photo: DPA
Society
Who's getting German citizenship?
Photo: DPA
Culture
How World War I changed Germany forever
Photo: APA/DPA
Gallery
The 12 best words in Austrian German
Photo: DPA
Society
'Look at those German shanty towns!'
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
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

3,322
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd