New Zealand Opera chairman Sir David Gascoigne has announced that general director Aidan Lang will leave the company in March to take up a similar position at Seattle Opera.
Sir David said Mr Lang, who joined the opera in 2006, has led the company with his own particular blend of infectious enthusiasm, good humour and a deep and extensive knowledge of the opera world and of the body of operatic works.
Mr Lang was general director for the period during which the company was known as the NBR New Zealand Opera, a period of sustained growth and innovation.
“During his time with us,” Sir David said, “Aidan has, along with his team, been responsible for a remarkable range of lively opera productions. All of them have been of a very high standard. All have been dramatically credible, wonderfully well sung, and superbly staged.
"A fine example is our most recent, and successful, production of Madame Butterfly.
“Aidan’s new role will be a great and well-merited step forward for him. For our part, we thank him greatly – and we will miss him.”
He has seen the establishment of a production facility which has enabled NZ Opera to create its own new works and others for fellow southern hemisphere opera companies. He has also been instrumental in expanding the reach of the company so that it now has bases in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Mr Lang said that a decision to move on is always a difficult one to make.
“My family and I have had a wonderful time in this country and it will be truly hard to say farewell to so many close colleagues and friends in eight months, when it is time to go.
"But the golden rule in the arts is that things should never stand still – both for the individuals involved and also for arts organisations.
"Opera here is in a very buoyant phase. The standard of the performances that we put on at New Zealand Opera has attracted distinguished artists of great calibre and has made us an extremely attractive production partner to sister companies overseas.
"So this is an ideal moment for someone new to come in to New Zealand Opera and to bring with them some fresh thoughts and ideas.”