He succeeds Alan Gilbert, who stepped down as music director in May and who was named the next music director of the New York Philharmonic last week.
"I have known Edo de Waart for nearly forty years," said company general director Richard Gaddes in announcing the appointment. "After hearing him conduct in Europe, I encouraged [company founder] John Crosby to invite him to Santa Fe. He is an extraordinary musician with a reputation for orchestra building. Edo is a good friend and I am certain his presence here will make an impact on the entire company."
De Waart's initial contract at Santa Fe is for four years, and he will conduct at least one opera each summer, beginning with Britten's Billy Budd next year. With the title of Chief Conductor (rather than Music Director), de Waart will be primarily responsible for the company's orchestra, though he will also consult with Gaddes and his artistic staff on repertoire and other matters.
Gaddes also announced that conductor Kenneth Montgomery, the company's Acting Music Director for the 2007 season, will conduct three operas between 2008 and 2011. He has worked with Santa Fe Opera since 1982.
Now aged 66, de Waart is currently artistic director and chief conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, a post he will retain. In 2003 he completed a very successful decade as chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra; he has also been chief conductor or music director of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (1989-2004), Minnesota Orchestra (1986-95), San Francisco Symphony (1977-85) and Rotterdam Philharmonic (1973-79). While he earned his reputation as an orchestra in these positions, he has also guest-conducted dozens of major orchestras in North America, Europe and Asia.
Opera has played a major part in de Waart's career as well: he served as music director of the Netherlands Opera from 1999 to 2004 and has guest-conducted at (among others) Covent Garden, Houston Grand Opera , the Bayreuth Festival, the Metropolitan Opera, the Op_ra de Paris and the Salzburg Festival. He led the New York premiere performance of John Adams's Nixon in China as well as the 1988 recording with the original cast. He has conducted two well-received Ring cycles: in San Francisco in 1980 and in Sydney from 1995 to 2000.
At Santa Fe, de Waart has conducted eight operas over ten seasons: Wagner's Der fliegende Holl‹nder (1971 in his U.S. debut and again in 1988), Mozart's Don Giovanni (1972), Verdi's Falstaff (1975 and 1977), Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro (1982 and 1991), Britten's The Turn of the Screw (1983), Shostakovich's The Nose (1987) and Berlioz's Beatrice and Benedict (1998).
He and his family currently make their home in Wisconsin.