Fabio Luisi to become music director of the Dallas Symphony

Fabio Luisi has been hired as music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra starting with the 2020-21 season.

The 59-year-old Italian will conduct a concert next spring and become music director designate for the 2019-20 season, the orchestra said Monday. He agreed to a contract through the 2023-24 season.

Luisi will become just the fourth music director for the Dallas Symphony in more than four decades after Eduardo Mata (1977-93), Andrew Litton (1994-2006) and Jaap van Zweden (2008-18), who starts as music director of the New York Philharmonic next season.

After conducting the Dallas Symphony for the first time in 2002, Luisi did not return until this March.

“When I was there in March, I had the feeling I can work with this orchestra very well,” Luisi said in a telephone interview. “The orchestras in the United States are very open-minded. They are very curious. They are opening to interesting projects. They are open to new music, I mean not only contemporary music, but also music of past centuries which is new for them. And I have seen that the audiences are equally curious about things they don’t know. … You can step out a little bit of let’s say the normal paths of programming and make some experiments and also take a little bit of risk. Without risk, you don’t win anything.”

His tenure will start with seven weeks in 2020-21 and likely will grow. He will conduct concert versions of Strauss’ “Salome” in 2019-20 and Verdi’s “Otello” in 2020-21.

Luisi has been general music director of the Zurich Opera since 2012, principal conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra since last year and director of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino since April. He was principal conductor of New York’s Metropolitan Opera from 2011-17, taking over many performances from James Levine while the music director was sidelined by back injuries. But after the Met announced Levine was stepping down at the end of the 2015-16 season, the company did not consider Luisi as a successor and hired Yannick Nezet-Seguin, who starts next season.

“I intend to reduce my activity as an opera conductor a little bit in the next years,” Luisi said.

The orchestra announced Monday it will commission 20 new works, including compositions by Julia Wolfe and Steve Mackey.

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