WNO General Director appointment

6 September 2018

Welsh National Opera is delighted to announce the appointment of Aidan Lang as the new General Director following an extensive recruitment process.

British born Lang is currently General Director of Seattle Opera, a role he has occupied since 2014. He will take up his new position in July 2019, reporting directly to the Chair and Board.

Chair of WNO’s board Mark Molyneux said “The Board of WNO are delighted with the appointment of Aidan Lang as our General Director.  We conducted an extensive, global search and were exceptionally pleased with the calibre of candidates, which reflects well on the leading reputation of the Company.  Aidan stood out, with both his deep artistic credentials as well as proven leadership skills, and we look forward enormously to working with him. The experience that Aidan brings to WNO will build on the Company’s world-wide reputation for achieving the highest artistic standards, bold and innovative productions and a wide-ranging youth and community programme. As the UK’s largest touring opera company WNO is a resourceful and imaginative company and we believe we have found a leader who embodies these qualities and is equipped to undertake ambitious plans for the future. We look forward to him building a great working relationship with all of our strong leadership team.”

During his tenure as General Director at Seattle Opera, Aidan Lang has forged new partnerships across the opera industry, including co-productions with Washington National Opera, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Opera Philadelphia, Opera Queensland and New Zealand Opera. He also launched the first of several critically acclaimed chamber operas designed to showcase operas in a new light, especially those that have a direct connection to social conversations happening today. The company has greatly expanded the range of its youth and adult programmes, and its audience for mainstage performances has increased from 67,000 in his first season to 85,000 in the season just completed. Millennial audiences have nearly quadrupled during this period and 40% of Seattle Opera ticket buyers are now under the age of 50. He has also overseen the development and fundraising efforts for the company’s new administration and rehearsal home, which is due to open in December this year.

Prior to his current role at Seattle Opera, Lang was General Director of New Zealand Opera from 2006 to 2013. During Lang's tenure, New Zealand Opera benefitted from a period of sustained growth and innovation despite global financial challenges. He expanded the company to include performances in Christchurch for the first time and created New Zealand's first opera production workshop, establishing new partnerships and collaborative ways of working.

Aidan Lang has also held artistic leadership positions at Buxton Festival, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Glyndebourne Touring Opera, and Opera Zuid in the Netherlands. Concurrent with these leadership positions, Lang was a sought-after freelance director working around the world. He began his career at the Glyndebourne Festival, before joining Welsh National Opera as a staff director.

Aidan Lang said “It will be a wrench to leave Seattle Opera, as the company is known around the world for its enthusiastic and generous opera community, and the warm and welcoming atmosphere it creates for its artists. But Welsh National Opera is where my career in opera really began, and I have always considered it to be my artistic home. It was during my time there in the 1980s that I came to understand the potential for opera to change the way that people view the society they live in, and that insight has been at the core of all my work ever since. It is an incredible honour to be appointed as WNO’s next General Director, and I am hugely looking forward to working with Tomáš, the staff, Board, Chorus, Orchestra and the various technical crews who together make up this extraordinary company.

David Pountney, who will be leaving WNO as Artistic Director next summer, said “It is a particular pleasure to welcome Aidan as WNO’s future General Director. He is a highly experienced and knowledgeable opera professional, and I am much relieved to know that the magnificent WNO company will be in safe hands and able to build on its reputation as ‘Britain's boldest opera company’ (The Spectator)”.

Tomáš Hanus, WNO’s Music Director said “I would like to wish Aidan as the future General Director of WNO many very successful years with our wonderful company. I am sure that his many professional and leadership qualities will contribute to an important period for WNO, marked by the very highest of artistic achievements. When I joined WNO two years ago, the amazing artistic quality, dedication and positive morale of the Company under the artistic leadership of David Pountney was a huge inspiration to me. I am sure that the new General Director will very much enjoy working here. Welcome, Aidan”.

Aidan Lang will relocate to Wales with his wife, the singer and director Linda Kitchen, and their daughter, Eleanor.