The appointment is a promotion for Welser-M‹st, who served as music director of the opera company from 1995 through 2002 and has been principal conductor since. He has agreed to an initial term of five years, through 2011. He will retain his position in Cleveland, where his current contract runs through 2012.
In his new position, the spokesperson said, Welser-M‹st will "will expand and extend his relationship with the Zurich Opera."
Welser-M‹st served as music director of the London Philharmonic from 1990 through 1996. He made his debut with the Zurich Opera in 1992 and was appointed music director two years later. He has been music director of the Cleveland Orchestra since 2002.
In March 2004, Welser-M‹st told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he had turned down the position of music director at the Vienna State Opera, citing his commitment to the Cleveland Orchestra. "I believe both institutions deserve 100 percent focus," he said. "I cannot divide my focus and give each institution 50 percent, which would mean in the end both institutions would suffer."