His appointment was announced by the theater's superintendent, Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi.
He replaces Gary Bertini, who died suddenly in March. Bertini had been music director of San Carlo since 2003.
The British-born Tate, who studied and practiced medicine, came to conducting late in life, making his debut in 1978 with Carmen at the Gothenburg Opera. He has conducted at the Metropolitan Opera, the Salzburg Festival, the London Symphony, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, among other opera companies and orchestras, and has been principal conductor of the English Chamber Orchestra, senior director of music at Covent Garden, principal guest conductor at the Royal Opera House and Orchestre National de France, and music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic.
He made his debut at La Scala in 2002 with Peter Grimes, and conducted a well-received Die Walk‹re at San Carlo in March.