Antonio Cognata, Teatro Massimo's superintendent, said, "For a long time, our artistic companies have perceived the need for a relief figure, someone to coordinate and organize the theater's activities. [Latham-Koenig] is the answer to these demands."
Diego Cammarata, mayor of Palermo and president of the Fondazione Teatro Massimo also announced that the theater would not close for renovations this year or next year, but that programming would continue as usual. He added that the opera house was waiting on regional funding in order to finish the restorations.
Latham-Koenig, who was born in the U.K. and graduated from the Royal College of music, is currently music director of the Wroclaw Philharmonic in Poland, as well as music director of the Wratislava Cantarns Festival and artistic director of the Cantiere Internazionale di Montepulciano. He will make his debut at Teatro Massimo right away, with an April 30 concert of works by Duparc, Satie, Faur_, and Ravel. In June, he will lead the orchestra in a double bill of Bart‹k's Duke Bluebeard's Castle and Ibert's Pers_e et Andromde.
He arrives at Teatro Massimo as the opera house is attempting to right itself after 30 years of troubles. Former superintendent Pietro Carriglio resigned last November, leaving major financial problems, union disagreements, and accusations of corruption in contracts awarded for the restoration work. Cognata was named superintendent shortly after Carriglio's resignation.
Latham-Koenig limited his comments at the press conference to a meditation on Ibert. "[He] was a bit of an Orson Welles," he said, "writing almost everything when he was young. The excellence and drama of his music is striking; it has a cinematic quality. It's not accidental that he worked for a long time as an accompanist for silent films."