Salzburg director to leave in 2010 for Berlin opera


June 18, 2010 Updated Jul 24, 2009 at 2:11 PM EDT

The Salzburg Festival's artistic director Juergen Flimm announced Friday he had signed a deal allowing him to quit Salzburg in 2010, a year early, to join the Berlin State Opera.

"I am happy and relieved," the German-born Flimm told the Austria Press Agency after the signing.

His contract with the Salzburg Festival, one of the world's most exclusive summer arts festivals, was originally due to run until 2011.

Flimm will now replace Peter Mussbach as artistic director of the Berlin Opera on October 1, 2010.

"I will of course concentrate fully on Salzburg in 2010," Flimm said Friday.

"In the summer of 2011, I will not constantly be in Salzburg naturally, but I will oversee the productions for which I'm in charge," he added.

"When I'm needed, I'll be there," he also said, noting that the programmes for both the 2010 and 2011 editions were already complete.

Friday's announcement came a day before the start of the 2009 Salzburg Festival, where Flimm is also directing an opera, "Moise et Pharaon" by Gioacchino Rossini, on August 8.

Flimm, who has run the festival since October 2006, announced last December that he would not renew his contract after 2011, prompting protests from local officials.

Alexander Pereira, current head of the Zurich Opera, is to take over as artistic director of the Salzburg Festival but will only so do in October 2011.

Salzburg's organisers will thus hold an emergency meeting on Monday to find an interim director for the 2011 Festival.

This year's edition opens on Saturday with the opera "Theodora" by Georg Friedrich Haendel, directed by Christof Loy.

The Festival runs until August 30.

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