Buckley said in a statement, issued with the opera's board of directors and quoted by the Statesman, that he will not be able to take on an increased role when the company moves into the Long Center for the Performing Arts next year. "The time constraints that will be placed upon the opera's artistic director as the company makes the transition to its new home at the Long Center, as well as my increasingly busy conducting schedule, led me to this move," he said.
That increasingly busy schedule includes a new post in Cleveland; Buckley's tenure as principal conductor of Opera Cleveland begins with the company's 2007 inaugural season.
Buckley's contract with Austin Lyric Opera, which has an annual operating budget of $4 million, stipulates that he be on the job 14 weeks a year.
Austin Lyric board chairman Steve Davis said, "We feel Richard has done a very good job working with the opera's orchestra. And when we hired him it was with the view that we had a world-class conductor. But what we gave up when we did that was having a full-time artistic presence. Richard was essentially a part-time presence in the community."
Pending board approval later this month, writes the Statesman, Buckley, 53, will become principal conductor for the upcoming season. The board expects to hire a new artistic director by summer 2007 and is looking for someone who will be able to devote more time to Austin.
Buckley took the helm at ALO four years ago, after company co-founder Joe McClain was fired. Buckley has also conducted with companies including the Royal Opera in London, Deutsche Oper Berlin, l'Op_ra national de Paris, Royal Danish Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera and Washington National Opera.