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Deutsche Oper Berlin’s General Music Director Leaves Post Early

Sir Donald Runnicles will depart his role in 2026, one year before his current contract is set to expire


Scottish conductor Sir Donald Runnicles, 68, has served as Deutsche Oper Berlin’s general music director since 2009. In 2020, his contract with the opera company was extended to 2027

He has stated that due to personal and family reasons, he wishes increasingly to move his life to the U.S. To this end, he will be leaving his role with Deutsche Oper Berlin as early as 2026.

Runnicles has also served as music director of the Grand Teton Music Festival, principal guest conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and conductor emeritus of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

Until his departure from Oper Berlin, he will continue to lead performances — including Puccini's Il Trittico, plus stage works by Janáček, Britten, and Wagner, including War Requiem and The Ring Cycle.

“I have experienced an extremely enriching time in my years as General Music Director at this wonderful opera house with its great artists and highly motivated staff, and I look forward to the three years still ahead of us,” stated Runnicles in the press release.  

“It is with great regret that I have received Sir Donald Runnicles' decision to leave Deutsche Oper Berlin as General Music Director as early as 2026,” added Senator Joe Chialo. “I fully understand his decision and look with great respect on the musical work of Mr Runnicles, under whose leadership Deutsche Oper Berlin has established itself as a pillar of Berlin's opera and cultural landscape with international appeal.”

While a new general music director is yet to be announced, Aviel Cahn has been announced as the new artistic director as of 2026 — succeeding Dietmar Schwarz.

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