Earlier press reports had suggested that Holender might extend his contract for one additional season, according to the Associated Press, but he said in his statement that staying on would not permit him to "take over the responsibility for a serious planning of adequate quality" for the 2010-2011 season.
The 71-year-old Holender has been chief executive at the Vienna State Opera since 1988, sharing responsibility with Eberhard Waechter until the latter's death in 1992 and serving as sole Intendant thereafter. He has been known as an active and forceful manager, sometimes criticized for heavy-handed dealings with other musical institutions in the Austrian capital and even, on occasion, with some artists.
There has been speculation in the Austrian media for some months that Holender would be departing soon — and even more speculation on the identity of his successor. The contender most often discussed in the press recently has been American tenor Neil Shicoff, now 57; he has reportedly neither confirmed nor denied reports of his candidacy. Another frequently mentioned possibility is Cleveland Orchestra and Zurich Opera House music director Franz Welser-M‹st; the 46-year-old native of Austria is now very popular in his homeland. In 2004 the conductor reportedly turned down an offer from Holender to take the Vienna State Opera's music directorship, a job held (then and now) by Seiji Ozawa.