In its 49-year history, Seattle Opera has only known two general directors: Glynn Ross (1963–83), "who put Seattle on the map for opera lovers" by establishing the company's Wagnerian Ring cycle, and Speight Jenkins, who since 1983 has upheld the Wagner tradition and built SO's international cred.
When the opera company celebrates its 50th anniversary next year, it will have a new leader in house. London-born Aidan Lang, the general director of New Zealand Opera, will take over when Jenkins, 76, steps down in August 2014. After taking two years to find the right match, it's not surprising that Seattle Opera has a fairly leisurely transition plan in place. Lang will become general director designate next March, working with Jenkins and executive director Kelly Tweeddale through the end of Speight's tenure. Programming is already set for the 2013–14 and 2014–15 seasons; Lang will contribute to the 2015–16 season, and have full authority for the 2016–17 season.
Which means: No Flight of the Conchords operas until 2015 at the earliest. (What? Michael Upchurch at The Seattle Times explains.)
Lang has led New Zealand Opera since 2006 (the young company made its debut in 2000); before that, he held leadership positions at the Buxton Festival in Britain, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Glyndebourne Touring Opera, and Opera Zuid in the Netherlands. He's also known for orchestrating the first-ever Brazilian production of Wagner's Ring at the Teatro Amazonas in Manaus.
Lang, 57, will move to Seattle with his wife of 23 years, former soprano Linda Kitchen, and their 16-year-old daughter, Eleanor. Meanwhile, Seattle Opera's production of Wagner's Ring opens August 4. Do you have tickets yet?