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Philippe Jordan Will Lead the Vienna State Opera. Can He Bring Peace?


The Swiss conductor Philippe Jordan in 2015. He will become the music director of the Vienna State Opera starting in the fall of 2020.

Stephane De Sakutin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

One of the most prestigious — but historically most tumultuous — posts in the opera world has been filled. The Vienna State Opera announced on Monday that its next music director would be the Swiss conductor Philippe Jordan, who will begin in fall 2020.

Mr. Jordan, 42, a well-respected, charismatic second-generation conductor who is music director of the Paris Opera and the Vienna Symphony, will succeed Franz Welser-Möst, who abruptly resigned in 2014. Mr. Welser-Möst was the most recent in a long line of eminent musicians who left the post early, whether by choice or not — a roster that includes Mahler, Richard Strauss and Herbert von Karajan.

“For every musician dedicated to the theater, the Vienna State Opera, with its incomparable tradition and above all its unique orchestra, is one of the most exciting tasks and challenges that the opera world can offer,” Mr. Jordan said in a statement.

The announcement came at a time of transition for the Vienna State Opera, one of the busiest and most important opera companies in the world — known for its star singers and exquisite orchestra, some of whose members moonlight as the Vienna Philharmonic. Last year the Austrian culture ministry decided not to renew the contract of its general director, Dominique Meyer, and chose Bogdan Roscic, a Sony executive, to succeed him in 2020.

The appointment was the first major step by Mr. Roscic, who said in a statement that he had been drawn by the way Mr. Jordan had focused on opera from an early age and built up his skills the old-fashioned way. “This makes him part of a tradition embodied by the most significant musicians who have shaped this opera house in the past,” he said in a statement.

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