Rhinegold Photo credit: James Bellorini

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Sebastian F. Schwarz steps down as Glyndebourne general director

2:29, 4th December 2017

Sebastian F. Schwarz has decided to step down as Glyndebourne’s general director.

Gus Christie, Glyndebourne’s executive chair, will assume the role of acting general director until a successor is appointed.

Schwarz assumed the post in May 2015, succeeding David Pickard. His work will start to feature in next year’s Festival, and he has programmed the Glyndebourne Festival and tour seasons up to 2021.

Earlier in 2017, he announced the Glyndebourne Opera Cup, a new competition designed to discover the best young singers from around the world. He will chair the jury for the competition as planned.

Schwarz said: ‘In my first encounter with a privately funded company I have come to appreciate Glyndebourne’s unique and complex business model on which its success and survival are dependent and for which the general director is responsible, alongside providing the artistic strategy.

‘While planning the seasons up to 2021, I have realised that I feel most at home in a position which allows me to concentrate more fully on creating and executing the artistic vision of an organisation.’

Gus Christie, Glyndebourne’s executive chair, said of Schwarz: ‘He is hugely respected and admired by everyone at Glyndebourne, including myself, and he has made an indelible mark on the organisation in his time with us. The fruits of his labours will be celebrated in upcoming years. We part as friends and esteemed colleagues and wish Sebastian every success with his future and look forward to working together to present a successful inaugural singing competition in March next year.’

‘The sudden announcement of Schwarz’s departure suggests that serious differences have arisen between him and Glyndebourne’s Board over future artistic planning for the festival,’ said Opera Now editor Ashutosh Khandekar.

‘Schwarz’s background in the European arts sector, where public subsidy is still taken for granted, means that he will have been shielded from the commercial considerations that drive the survival of a private enterprise such as Glyndebourne. His resignation statement implies that he was unprepared for the extent to which Glyndebourne’s patronage, sponsorship and artistic product are entirely interdependent.’

Prior to joining Glyndebourne, Schwarz was deputy artistic director of Theater an der Wien. Former artistic director and co-founder of the Pietro Antonio Cesti International Voice Competition for Baroque Opera in Innsbruck, he was CEO and artistic director of the Vienna Chamber Opera (incorporated into Theater an der Wien in 2012), for which he founded an international ensemble of singers who perform for both companies, and had also held positions at Wexford Festival Opera and Staatsoper Hamburg.


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