Nicola Luisotti, music director for the San Francisco Opera (SF Opera) since 2009, announced Wednesday that he would be leaving the opera company after the 2017-2018 season, when his contract expires.
Luisotti made his announcement in front of the entire opera company -- staff, musicians, chorus, dancers and crew -- at the War Memorial Opera House theater Wednesday morning.
“After much thought and realizing that I will have been associated with San Francisco Opera for over 12 years by the 2017–18 Season, I arrived at the difficult decision not to renew my contract and to look to new opportunities," Luisotti said. “I believe that close to a decade is about the right time to be leading a company."
Luisotti directed his first SF Opera performance, a production of Verdi’s La Forza del Destino in 2005. Since then, SF Opera says he has lead about 30 productions and concerts.
The announcement "deeply saddened" Matthew Shilvock, who becomes SF Opera's seventh general director on Aug. 1.
"He and I have talked about his decision in-depth many times over the past few months, and, while it was difficult to accept, I have come to understand the incredible selflessness with which he is making this change," Shilvock said in a statement released by the SF Opera this afternoon. "He adores this company but he believes that, after a decade at the helm, both he and San Francisco Opera need fresh experiences and fresh artistic approaches.”
The Italian-born conductor said he was making way for Shilvock to "move freely into the future with his ideas" and let him take SF Opera into a new direction.
"As hard as it is for me to say this about a company I so dearly love, I sincerely believe this is the right path and the right time for me and San Francisco Opera,” Luisotti said.