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

A new production of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle at the Berlin State Opera, featuring the eminent conductor Daniel Barenboim, was one of the most 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 a variety of health issues in recent years, announced he was withdrawing.

“I am deeply saddened not to be able to conduct the new ‘Ring,’” Barenboim, 79, said in a statement. “I must now give priority to my health and concentrate on my complete recovery.”

The Berlin State Opera, in a statement, said that the conductor Christian Thielemann would take over for the first 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It was the latest setback for Barenboim, a titan in classical music, who has withdrawn from performances lately.

“I am still struggling with the consequences of the vasculitis I was diagnosed with in the spring, and with this decision I am following the advice of my attending physicians,” he said in the statement.

Matthias Schulz, director of the Berlin State opera, said it was “extremely sad” that Barenboim could no longer take part. In a statement, he called the production “a unique undertaking that is very close to his heart and that of the entire house.”

“Preparations have been underway for many years, and we have done everything in our power to make the ‘Ring’ with Daniel Barenboim possible, especially in the year of his 80th birthday,” Schulz said.

As music director of the State Opera and principal conductor for life of its orchestra, the Staatskapelle, Barenboim is a towering figure in the European cultural scene. He is also a founder of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, an ensemble of young musicians from around the Middle East, and he helped create a conservatory, the Barenboim-Said Akademie, as well as a concert hall, the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin.

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

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

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