Rizzi, who joined WNO in 1992, is by no means severing his ties with the company: in coming seasons he will appear in La Cenerentola, Il trovatore, Falstaff and Aida as a guest conductor.
His first period as music director was from 1992 to 2001, during which time the WNO developed a reputation for high-quality performances. In 2001, he was succeeded by Tugan Sokhiev, who only lasted one season before resigning abruptly. Rizzi returned to the company in 2004 for a stint that was expected to be relatively short (until a long-term successor was found), but during that time he helped lead the WNO into its new home in the Wales Millennium Centre on Cardiff Bay.
Gramophone Online reports that the WNO hast not yet focused on likely replacements for Rizzi or even come up with a short-list. Gramophone editor James Inverne does speculate on some possible candidates, however, including Glyndebourne Festival music director Vladimir Jurowski, WNO associate conductor Michal Klauza and former Dallas Symphony music director Andrew Litton.