From the summer of 2025, the Israeli conductor Omer Meir Wellber will be General Music Director of the Hamburg State Opera and Chief Conductor of the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra. The 41-year-old follows the American conductor Kent Nagano, who has held this office since 2015, as announced by the cultural authorities in Hamburg.
Wellber is music director of the Volksoper Wien until August 2027. He is currently Music Director of Teatro Massimo Palermo and Artistic Director of the Toscanini Festival. From 2018 to 2022 he was principal guest conductor of the Semperoper Dresden and chief conductor of the BBC Philharmonic until 2022.
Set new impulses in Hamburg
"With Omer Meir Wellber, we were able to win an outstanding artistic personality for the cultural city of Hamburg," said Hamburg's Senator for Culture, Carsten Brosda (SPD). Omer Meir Wellber has shown that he is passionate about building bridges and getting new audiences excited about classical music. "I'm sure that he will also set new impulses in Hamburg together with the Philharmonic State Orchestra. The orchestra, which has developed artistically excellently under Kent Nagano, will also be in the best of hands with him," said Brosda.
This means that the artistic direction of the Hamburg State Opera will be completely reassigned from 2025. Last year, Tobias scratches were introduced as the new opera director and Demis Volpi as the new ballet director. Volpi will succeed John Neumeier on August 1, 2024. Bettina Giese, director at the Brussels Opera House, will join the team as opera director.
"I'm really looking forward to Hamburg, a music location that is not only committed to tradition, but above all to the avant-garde. For me, that's an incentive, challenge and inspiration in equal measure," said Wellber. Hamburg has an impressive combination of two main venues: the Hamburg State Opera with all its facets as the oldest opera house in Germany and the Elbphilharmonie with its unique concert halls, which invites you to do a lot of new things.
Hamburg came at exactly the right time for him. He's been working in a different city about every week for the past 15 years. "Now I would like to work in a big house and develop something with an orchestra and go in depth," said the conductor. He is particularly looking forward to the Philharmonic State Orchestra, "whose musicians have proven over many years under very different conductors the enthusiasm with which they are always willing to embark on new and unconventional paths".
For the designated artistic director Tobias scratches, Wellber is "a stroke of luck for Hamburg, for the house and for the audience" because he was his preferred candidate as well as that of the Philharmonic State Orchestra. "Omer Meir Wellber is a conductor who is not only at home in a wide variety of epochs, but whose thinking and programming relies enthusiastically and undogmatically on surprising recombination, on musical excellence and a common ensemble spirit," said Kratzer. This is exactly what the Hamburg State Opera should stand for in the future.