Caetani will assume the post in the fall of 2006, replacing Paul Daniel, who leaves this year after eight years with the ENO.
A frequent guest conductor at the major European opera houses, Caetani served as music director of the Weisbaden and Chemnitz Opera Houses in Germany in the 1990s. He made his debuts with San Francisco Opera and Seattle Opera last year, and took up his post in Melbourne last month.
Caetani has conducted in the U.K. only once, leading Khovanshchina at the ENO in 2003. He will return next season to conduct Ralph Vaughn Williams' Sir John in Love there.
"I have always maintained that this is the single most important post in the company," said Sešn Doran, the ENO's artistic director and CEO, in a statement. "Oleg made a hugely positive impact in his ENO and British opera d_but with Khovanshchina in 2003. His highly acclaimed musicality and standards are second to none."
Caetani joins a company still struggling to recover from a period of internal chaos, poor financial results, and bad press. Former general director Nicholas Payne was forced out in 2002; the appointment the following year of Doran, who had previously directed the Perth Festival and had no opera experience, was greeted with dismay by some observers. According to news reports at the time, Daniel considered resigning when Payne departed but decided to delay his departure in order to let the company stabilize.