The Houston Chronicle reported today that Freud was Houston Grand Opera's choice. The company will make its official announcement at a press conference tomorrow morning.
Trained as a lawyer, the London-born Freud launched his career in the performing arts as theater manager for Sadler's Wells. He first came to WNO as a company secretary in 1984, and eventually became director of opera planning. He left in 1992 to produce opera for the Phillips Classics label, but returned in 1994 as general director. He is also jury chairman for the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition and the chair of Opera Europe, a trade organization.
Like Houston Grand Opera, the WNO has a reputation for adventurousness tempered with standard repertoire. Its upcoming season includes the world premiere of Richard Chew and Orlando Gough's The Most Beautiful Man From the Sea as well as Handel's Jeptha, Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa, Mozart's Don Giovanni, Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, and Rossini's Barber of Seville. The company recently moved into the new Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.
"My deep regret at departing from WNO is balanced by my enormous excitement about the move to Houston," Freud said in a statement. "It will no doubt present many challenges, but like WNO, Houston Grand Opera is a company with an outstanding international reputation for excellence and innovation which continuously strives to bring the highest artistic standards to the widest possible audience."
"By happy coincidence," he added, "WNO and Houston Grand Opera (together with Gran Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona and the Grand Th_ê¢tre de Genve) are in discussion about a future co-production of Rossini's La Cenerentola."
Gockley, who staged 33 world premieres during his three decades in Houston, will leave for his new position at San Francisco Opera in January 2006.