Omer Meir Wellber will become General Music Director of the Philharmonic State Orchestra Hamburg and General Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Hamburg State Opera

Hamburg, 24 February 2023 – Omer Meir Wellber will become Hamburg General Music Director of the Philharmonic State Orchestra as well as General Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Hamburg State Opera as of the 2025/2026 season. The press release of the Hamburg Ministry of Culture and Media can be found below and here.

Omer Meir Wellber appointed new Hamburg General Music Director at the Philharmonic State Orchestra and General Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Hamburg State Opera

Brosda: “With Wellber, we have been able to win an outstanding artistic personality for the cultural city of Hamburg.

Israeli conductor Omer Meir Wellber will succeed Kent Nagano as Hamburg’s General Music Director at the Philharmonic State Orchestra and as General Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Hamburg State Opera on 1 August 2025. The 41-year-old is one of the most sought-after conductors internationally. He is Music Director of the Volksoper Wien until August 2027, Music Director of the Teatro Massimo Palermo and Artistic Director of the Toscanini Festival. As Artistic Director of the Raanana Symphonette in his native Israel, Omer Meir Wellber has been committed to tradition and music education for nearly 15 years. He was Principal Guest Conductor of the Semperoper Dresden from 2018 to 2022 and Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic until 2022. He also appears as guest conductor with renowned opera houses and orchestras worldwide, including the Bavarian State Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, the Arena di Verona, La Fenice, as well as with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. In the 2018/19 season he took the podium at the Elbphilharmonie with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, and most recently he appeared there in an acclaimed concert with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Omer Meir Wellber, born 28 October 1981 in Be’er Sheva, Israel, graduated from the Be’er Sheva Conservatory in 1999 with a degree in composition. He also studied conducting and composition at the Jerusalem Music Academy from 2000 to 2008. From 2008 and 2010 he was assistant to Daniel Barenboim at the Berlin State Opera and La Scala in Milan.

This means that the artistic direction of the Hamburg State Opera will be completely re-staffed from 2025, with Tobias Kratzer, Omer Meir Wellber and Demis Volpi, who will succeed Prof. John Neumeier as Intendant of the Hamburg Ballet and director of the Ballet Center Hamburg as early as 1 August 2024.

As Opera Director, Bettina Giese will join the new team around future Artistic Director Tobias Kratzer. Bettina Giese has been Director of Artistic Production and Planning at La Monnaie Opera House in Brussels since 2018. Giese has already worked at numerous international opera houses, including Frankfurt, Venice, Barcelona, London, Strasbourg, at the Bregenz Festival and in Stuttgart, where she was Artistic Operations Director and Head of the Opera Studio until 2018.

In addition, Ralf Klöter as Managing Director and Barbara Fasching as Orchestra Director will continue to hold their positions, completing the team at the helm of the Hamburg State Opera.

Dr. Carsten Brosda, Senator for Culture and Media:

“With Omer Meir Wellber, we have been able to win an outstanding artistic personality for the cultural city of Hamburg. Omer Meir Wellber has shown that he is passionate about building bridges and inspiring new audiences for classical music. I am sure that together with the Philharmonic State Orchestra he will also set new impulses in Hamburg. The orchestra, which has developed outstandingly artistically under Kent Nagano, will also be in the best of hands with him.
Bettina Giese will complete the artistic management team. She has gained excellent experience in numerous international opera houses and will complement the team very well with her expertise. From 2025, the Hamburg State Opera will consistently continue the successful path of Georges Delnon and Kent Nagano under its new leadership and further expand its artistic and social relevance internationally.

Omer Meir Wellber, designated General Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Hamburg State Opera:

I am very much looking forward to Hamburg, a musical metropolis that is committed not only to tradition, but above all to the avant-garde. For me, this is an incentive, a challenge and an inspiration in equal measure. Hamburg has an impressive combination of two main venues: the Hamburg State Opera with all its facets as Germany’s oldest opera house – born out of the commitment of very self-confident citizens of the city – and the Elbphilharmonie with its unique concert halls, which encourages a great deal of novelty. The Hamburg Ballet completes this combination with a company that is second to none. I am particularly looking forward to the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra, an orchestra of the highest caliber, whose musicians have proven over many years under very different conductors the enthusiasm with which they are willing to engage in ever new and also unconventional ways.  I would like to take this opportunity to share with my Viennese colleagues – first and foremost, of course, the Artistic Director of the Volksoper Lotte de Beer – how delighted I am that there will be the opportunity for this unusual exchange. As a sign of how much this connection can enrich us all is the fact that Christoph Lieben-Seutter and Matthias Naske, the Artistic Directors of the Elbphilharmonie and the Wiener Konzerthaus, have already extended an invitation for a major joint project in Hamburg and Vienna for the first season in 2025/26.”
For me, Hamburg came at the right time. Hamburg, a city where groundbreaking music was composed and music history was written. When you experience Hamburg, you feel this musical tradition, shaped by Telemann, Mendelssohn, Mahler and Brahms. On the other hand, on the banks of the Elbe, with the impressive construction of the Elbphilharmonie, one senses the open-mindedness towards the new and unconventional. With a look at the Elbphilharmonie and a look at tradition, we bring the past into the future!

Tobias Kratzer, designated Artistic Director of the Hamburg State Opera:

Omer Meir Wellber is a conductor who is not only at home in the most diverse epochs, but whose thinking and programming – in opera as well as concert programs – relies with relish and undogmatism on surprising recombination, on musical excellence and a common ensemble spirit. And in this, he meets exactly what the Hamburg State Opera should stand for in the future! That he as GMD was at the same time the desired candidate of the Philharmonic State Orchestra as well as of my team and myself, is a stroke of luck for Hamburg, for the house and for the audience. Together with our designated Opera Director Bettina Giese, whom I have brought onto the team as my most important collaborator and deputy Artistic Director, I am very much looking forward to shaping the coming years of the Hamburg State Opera together with Omer Meir Wellber. Bettina Giese has helped shape the model of a directorial directorship in Jossi Wieler’s management team in Stuttgart from very close quarters. I know her from Brussels, where she impressed me with her great expertise and empathy as Opera Director at La Monnaie. The fact that she is now on board at Dammtorstraße vouches for the course that Omer Meir Wellber and I want to take here. Dear Omer, dear Bettina – welcome to Hamburg! And here’s to a happy collaboration!