Sir. Donald Runnicles Steps Down from Deutsche Oper Berlin

By Francisco Salazar
(Photo credit: Simon Pauly)

Sir. Donald Runnicles has announced that he will step down as Music Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 2026.

The company announced that Runnicles had informed the Senator for Culture and Social Cohesion, Joe Chialo, and his orchestra board that he would like to end his contract as General Music Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, which runs until 2027, in 2026.

He added that it would open the door to a comprehensive new artistic start for the new artistic director of the house, Aviel Cahn. Additionally, Runnicles noted he wants to move his center of life to the USA for family reasons.

In a statement, Senator Joe Chialo said, “It is with great regret that I have received Sir Donald Runnicles’ decision to leave Deutsche Oper Berlin as General Music Director as early as 2026. I fully understand his decision and look with great respect on the musical work of Mr Runnicles, under whose leadership Deutsche Oper Berlin has established itself as a pillar of Berlin’s opera and cultural landscape with international appeal.”

Runnicles added, “I have experienced an extremely enriching time in my years as General Music Director at this wonderful opera house with its great artists and highly motivated staff, and I look forward to the three years still ahead of us. The fact that our next joint premiere will be Puccini’s ‘Il Trittico,’ but that we have also staged a number of works by Janáček, Britten and of course Wagner, such as not least the new production of the Ring des Nibelungen, shows the extreme musical range of this house. The guest performance of Wagner’s Tannhauser, which was just celebrated at the Edinburgh Festival, is a sign of the high international recognition of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, to which I feel deeply attached in its artistic orientation. I am all the more delighted to remain associated with the house in Mr Cahn’s opening season with the new production of Britten’s War Requiem.”

Runnicles was appointed Music Director in 2007 and began his tenure in 2009. He extended his contract in 2016 and in 2020 extended it until 2027.