Retirement at the Berlin State Opera: Barenboim resigns as general music director

Star conductor Barenboim tried for a long time.

Retirement at the Berlin State Opera: Barenboim resigns as general music director

Star conductor Barenboim tried for a long time. But the state of health of the 80-year-old no longer tolerates the strain. At the end of the month he vacates the post of general music director at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin. Now the search for a successor begins.

Daniel Barenboim, who has been ill for a long time, resigns as general music director of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. The 80-year-old announced this in Berlin. "Unfortunately, my health has deteriorated significantly in the last year. I can no longer provide the performance that is rightly demanded of a general music director," Barenboim said in a statement. "Therefore, I ask for your understanding that I will give up this job on January 31, 2023." He asks Senator for Culture Klaus Lederer to terminate the contract at the specified time.

In a statement, Lederer said he was "convinced that Daniel Barenboim made the right decision". The decision put the well-being of the State Opera and the Staatskapelle in the foreground. "All of this deserves the greatest respect." Barenboim only returned to the conductor's podium at the turn of the year. He conducted Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in Berlin last Saturday.

The audience in the completely sold-out house celebrated Barenboim, the Staatskapelle, the Staatsopernchor and the soloists on New Year's Eve with sustained ovations. The star conductor, who often addresses a few words to the audience on such occasions, said nothing that evening. His gait seemed a bit unsteady, he conducted from a seated position. His movements, which seldom got out of hand anyway, were perhaps even more economical that evening. This did not affect the interpretation. Barenboim has taken the Staatskapelle to the top international level over the past three decades. Musicians and conductor get along well over long bars, even with little action.

At the beginning of October, Barenboim announced that he now had to concentrate as much as possible on his physical well-being. "My health has deteriorated over the past few months and I have been diagnosed with a serious neurological condition," he wrote.

The State Opera had to cancel a concert planned for his birthday in the Berlin Philharmonic, where Barenboim was supposed to play the piano. Previously, Barenboim had already been forced to give up conducting the new production of Richard Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen" at the State Opera, which was realized for his birthday. He was replaced by Christian Thielemann and Thomas Guggeis at the podium. Thielemann also represented Barenboim during the Asian tour with the Staatskapelle. He is considered a potential successor to Barenboim.

Thielemann did not want to comment on a possible further cooperation. "We all learned at school: pacta sunt servanda. I have a contract in Dresden until 2024, which I am very happy to fulfill because I get along wonderfully with the orchestra and we have a wonderful time together."