Berlin State Opera Announces New Music Director
German conductor Christian Thielemann will begin his tenure in September 2024, succeeding Daniel Barenboim
The Berlin Opera Foundation’s board of trustees have recently approved the contract of Christian Thielemann as new general music director of the Berlin State Opera (Staatsoper Unter den Linden) from September 1, 2024.
Thielemann succeeds Daniel Barenboim, 80, who announced his departure from the role in January 2023 — following a 30-year tenure since 1992 — due to a neurological condition and other health reasons.
Barenboim played a significant role in German culture, including raising the Berlin State Opera to international prominence after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In 2017, he pushed for a renovation of the opera house, which now has over 500 employees and a budget of over €81.4 million.
Currently, the chief conductor of Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, Thielemann, 64, has previously performed with the Berlin State Opera to great acclaim. He led the Deutsche Oper from 1997 to 2004, and the Munich Philharmonic from 2004 to 2011.
Additionally, he served as music director of the Bayreuth Festival from 2015 to 2020, and was artistic director of the Osterfestspiele Salzburg (founded by von Karajan) between 2013 and 2022.
Thielemann rose to prominence in his twenties, during which he won positions at German opera houses, including in Düsseldorf and Nuremberg. His mentors included Wilhelm Furtwängler and Herbert von Karajan.
“For the Staatsoper, the tasks and challenges are great in these times of social change and crisis,” said Berlin State Opera’s artistic director as of 2024/25, Elisabeth Sobotka in the press release. “The great tradition and the great quality of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden and the Staatskapelle Berlin are the basis on which this further development can be built. Christian Thielemann is a guarantor of this. I am very much looking forward to our collaboration.”
“The Staatsoper Unter den Linden can look back on a long and glorious tradition. The same is true for the Staatskapelle Berlin, with whom I share an extraordinary musical affinity,” Thielemann said. “I am therefore delighted to now return to my hometown and, together with Elisabeth Sobotka, to lead the house into the future. I am deeply indebted to Daniel Barenboim, whom I have known and admired for over 40 years, for his wonderful work and constant support.”
“I have known Christian Thielemann since he was my assistant at the Deutsche Oper as a 19-year-old young man. Even then, his extraordinary musical talent was obvious, and he has since developed into one of the outstanding conductors of our time,” Barenboim added. “I wish [him and the future artistic director Elisabeth Sobotka an ever fruitful and committed exchange and the necessary luck and skill in managing the house. I am full of anticipation for what is to come!”