Le Figaro reports, pretty unequivocally and quoting sources close to the current director Stéphane Lissner, that Neef is getting the job.
First, let me bask for a minute in Lokalpatriotismus. How cool is this? *Basking, with sunglasses on. Basking, basking, basking*
Congratulations to Neef on this not at all small accomplishment. We haven’t always agreed on details, but I generally agreed with his approach to programming opera, from that notorious Tim Albery Aida a decade ago on. What I think about his decade at the COC I wrote in 2017 in this piece for the Globe and Mail.
On a personal note: we are precisely the same age. Good to see a GenXer take this important position in the opera world. We’re talking about a house that was founded by Louis XIV.
Now. According to the Figaro, Neef won’t take on the role until June 2022 and Lissner is to continue in this transition period. The paper (and ForumOpera agrees) is not too happy that some of the labour reforms announced will now have to be done by a lame-duck director, and how much authority will he have to execute those, they wonder. I’d speculate that Neef needed a sufficient withdrawal period to wrap up the COC projects – but I don’t know. A lot of drive-by-appointed CEOs in Toronto’s cultural life simply do a runner and announce they’ll be gone next season, period. This won’t be the case here, and I think that’s good. (Maybe the Santa Fe festival will also benefit from this slow shift.)
End of an era. Who will come after? Send in those bets.