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Daniel Barenboim, Star Conductor, Withdraws from ‘Ring’ Cycle in Berlin


A recent production of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle on the Berlin State Opera, featuring the eminent conductor Daniel Barenboim, was one of the crucial highly anticipated events on the classical music calendar this season.

But on Tuesday, the production, which opens in October, suffered a setback when Barenboim, who has been grappling with quite a lot of health issues in recent times, announced he was withdrawing.

“I’m deeply saddened to not give you the chance to conduct the brand new ‘Ring,’” Barenboim, 79, said in a statement. “I have to now give priority to my health and think about my complete recovery.”

The Berlin State Opera, in an announcement, said that the conductor Christian Thielemann would take over for the primary and third planned “Ring” cycle this fall, and the conductor Thomas Guggeis for the second. The production, which runs through early November, is being staged by Dmitri Tcherniakov.

It was the newest setback for Barenboim, a titan in classical music, who has withdrawn from performances currently.

“I’m still combating the results of the vasculitis I used to be diagnosed with within the spring, and with this decision I’m following the recommendation of my attending physicians,” he said within the statement.

Matthias Schulz, director of the Berlin State opera, said it was “extremely sad” that Barenboim could now not participate. In an announcement, he called the production “a singular undertaking that could be very near his heart and that of all the house.”

“Preparations have been underway for a few years, and we’ve done the whole lot in our power to make the ‘Ring’ with Daniel Barenboim possible, especially within the 12 months of his eightieth birthday,” Schulz said.

As music director of the State Opera and principal conductor for all times of its orchestra, the Staatskapelle, Barenboim is a towering figure within the European cultural scene. He can also be a founding father of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, an ensemble of young musicians from across the Middle East, and he helped create a conservatory, the Barenboim-Said Akademie, in addition to a concert hall, the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin.

In his statement, Barenboim said the Berlin State Opera was “very near my heart.” He praised the conductors who will replace him.

“I wish them and everybody involved all the very best with this production,” he said.

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