Cleveland Orchestra Extends Franz Welser-Möst’s Contract, Announces New Opera Performances Including Piotr Beczala As ‘Parsifal’

By Francisco Salazar
(Credit: Julia Wesely)

The Cleveland Orchestra has announced a new five-year extension of Franz Welser-Möst’s contract as Music Director.

The new contract will continue the conductor and orchestra’s partnership that began in 2002 and will now be extended until 2027.

“I am delighted to announce this extended contract, ensuring The Cleveland Orchestra’s acclaimed partnership with Franz Welser-Möst for an additional five years to 2027,” Richard K. Smucker, Chair of the Orchestra’s Board of Trustees stated in a press release. “From Franz’s work here over the past quarter century, from everything we’ve witnessed and experienced across our Centennial Celebrations in 2018 to today, and through ongoing discussions and plans for the future, I know there is so much more to look forward to.

Welser-Möst noted that he was “humbled by the faith that the musicians of the Orchestra and everyone in Cleveland has placed in my hands. From the beginning, I have been inspired by Cleveland’s musicians and by the support and keen interest that the entire Cleveland community provides to The Cleveland Orchestra.  I continue to be energized by these incredible artists and by all that we are able to do together.  There is no better place in the world to work and to create music together than what The Cleveland Orchestra and community have offered to me.”

Alongside the announcement, a number of plans were announced, including operatic performances. The orchestra announced that this season, Berg’s “Lulu” would be presented featuring soprano Barbara Hannigan in the title role. That work would be followed by Verdi’s “Otello” in 2021 featuring baritone Simon Keenlyside in his role debut as Iago.

During the 2021-22, Wagner’s “Parsifal” would be staged by director Frederic Wake-Walker, featuring tenor Piotr Beczala and mezzo-soprano Okka von der Damerau (as Kundry) making their role debuts. The cast will also include bass Peter Rose as Gurnemanz and baritone Hanno Müller-Brachmann as Amfortas.

During the 2022-23 Puccini’s “La Fanciulla del West” will be featured with Tamara Wilson as Minnie, and bass-baritone Eric Owens as Jack Rance and during the 2023-24 season Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” would be staged by director, actor and puppeteer Nikolaus Habjan with tenor Julian Prégardien as Tamino, baritone Ludwig Mittelhammer as Papageno, and bass Peter Kellner as Sarastro.