BERLIN (January 4, 2022) — James Gaffigan will become the next Music Director of the Komische Oper Berlin, beginning in 2023/24. Susanne Moser, Managing Director and designated Artistic Co-Director, and Philip Bröking, Opera Director and designated Artistic Co-Director, presented the newly appointed Music Director at a press conference on Tuesday morning at the Komische Oper Berlin. Dr. Klaus Lederer, Berlin Minister for Culture and Europe and Chairman of the Berlin Opera Foundation, also shared a virtual welcome message.
American conductor James Gaffigan is among the most outstanding conductors of his generation, hailed for his natural ease and compelling musicianship. Both in the concert hall and in the pit, his multi-faceted talent and musicality attracts international attention. He is in his inaugural season as Music Director of Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia, and he additionally serves as Principal Guest Conductor of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra & Opera, Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, and Music Director of the Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra. In June 2021, Gaffigan finished his tenure as Chief Conductor of the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, a position he held for ten years. He regularly appears with concert and opera orchestras around the world, among them the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Bayerische Staatsoper, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Munich Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Dresden, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Wiener Symphoniker, Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich.
Gaffigan has a regular presence in Berlin. In December 2021, he led performances at the Deutsche Oper as well as the New Year’s concerts of the Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester. On January 9, 2022, he will lead the Staatskapelle Berlin in a concert at the Pierre Boulez Saal.
Starting in Autumn 2023, James Gaffigan’s contract with the Komische Oper Berlin will run for four years until the summer of 2027. Prior to his tenure, he will conduct a symphony concert with the opera’s orchestra during the 2022/23 season.
Dr. Klaus Lederer, Berlin Minister for Culture and Europe and Chairman of the Berlin Opera Foundation, said: “When the Komische Oper Berlin leaves its home theater in 2023 to allow the building to be extensively renovated, this will be a great chance for James Gaffigan and the leading team to put up extraordinary projects in extraordinary venues, thereby discovering and getting to know new facets of Berlin. For this, they can rely on the uniquely flexible and versatile ensemble of soloists, chorus, orchestra and staff of the Komische Oper Berlin. I am very pleased that with James Gaffigan, we are able to welcome another young and gifted conductor as Music Director of the Komische Oper in Berlin!”
Susanne Moser and Philip Bröking, Artistic Co-Directors as of 2022/23, said: “James Gaffigan is a perfect fit for the artistic profile of the Komische Oper Berlin. He is a team player, young and curious, yet experienced and with a meticulous sense of stylistic diversity. His broad and varied repertoire as well as his multi-faceted interests – including musical education – will be of great value to us in the years to come and a great help to master the various challenges related to the renovation of Komische Oper Berlin’s home theater. We are happy and thankful, both from a personal as well as an artistic point of view!”
James Gaffigan said: “When I came to Berlin for the first time, I immediately felt that the city had something in common with my hometown of New York City – a special openness. Both cities are open to all people, regardless of cultural or social origin, regardless of gender or identity. And in the heart of this city lies the Komische Oper Berlin, a unique cultural center that is a place of refuge for people from all over the world and – as required – offers concerts or musical theater, entertainment or stimulation, reflection or inspiration. I am proud to be able to shape this institution in the future as General Music Director and a member of the artistic management team, together with the wonderful orchestra and the entire ensemble. I am grateful that I have been able to enjoy an intensive education and cultural experience since my early childhood, which would not have been possible without the public education system of the city of New York, since I inherently lacked the means. I, therefore, also see my task of giving something back with this gift. I’m looking forward to doing that at the Komische Oper Berlin.”
About James Gaffigan
James Gaffigan conducts leading orchestras such as the London Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Staatskapelle Dresden, Vienna Symphony, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, Orchestre de Paris, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic. Gaffigan is a regular at the Metropolitan Opera and Bayerische Staatsoper, plus Zürich Opera, Vienna Staatsoper, Paris Opera, Dutch National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Santa Fe Opera.
About Komische Oper Berlin
Since the opening of its opera house in 1892, the Komische Oper Berlin has been a consistent international trendsetter in the world of musical theater. As the leading theater for operettas and revues in the 1920s, it has fundamentally shaped the Berlin, and hence international, entertainment scene. Following World War II, Walter Felsenstein’s concept of musical theater revolutionized European opera, and to this day it remains an important point of reference for the great majority of musical theater directors seeking to be contemporary in their work. This inspirational international influence as a trendsetter in innovative musical theater is reflected in the many artistic careers which began at the Komische Oper Berlin – including those of the directors Götz Friedrich and Harry Kupfer as well as the conductors Otto Klemperer, Kurt Masur, Yakov Kreizberg and Kirill Petrenko.
In 2012, Barrie Kosky took over from Andreas Homoki as the Artistic Director of the Komische Oper Berlin. He was joined by Henrik Nánási, the new General Music Director. The Komische Oper Berlin is known for its versatility and flexibility. This and the fixed ensemble of singer-performers are key characteristics of the Komische Oper Berlin under Kosky’s directorship. Kosky’s conceptual approach draws not only on the tradition set by Felsenstein, but also on the venue’s pre-war traditions, which were strongly shaped by Jewish actors and have hitherto received less attention. Felsenstein’s vision of opera as a form of musical theatre in which music and action are equally important components of a production is combined by Kosky with the demand that musical theatre should provide an experience which appeals to all the senses and which encompasses musical drama in all its forms, from the classic Mozart repertoire through to genre-defying projects.
Ainārs Rubiķis has been serving as Music Director since 2018. Both Barrie Kosky and Rubiķis will finish their tenures in 2022. Current Managing Director Susanne Moser and Opera Director Philip Bröking will take over as joint Artistic Directors in 2022/23. In 2023, the company will temporarily leave its home theater in Berlin Mitte, which has to go extensive renovation and extension. The ensemble will have a interim home in Berlin-Charlottenburg’s Schiller Theater and perform in various venues all over Berlin for several years.