The city of Berlin created the foundation a year ago in an effort to consolidate the administrative functions and cut the costs of the Berlin Staatsoper, Deutsche Opera, and Komische Oper.
Schindhelm, an East German-born director of theater and opera, is currently the head of the Basel Theater in Switzerland. His candidacy for the new post was nearly derailed by accusations that he had worked as an informant for Stasi, the East German secret police, before reunification. However, the other major candidate, Bernd F‹lle of the Frankfurt theaters, withdrew from consideration after questions were raised about his personal life.
The new general director faces the task of maintaining the high artistic standards of the three companies as their budget shrinks from $150 million this year to $75 million in 2009.