GENEVA Acclaimed conductor Franz Welser-Moest will not take the rostrum for two scheduled billings of a vampire-inspired staging of "Die Fledermaus" at the Zurich Opera, the Swiss opera house said Wednesday.
Welser-Moest, the general director in Zurich and music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, will not conduct the Johann Strauss Jr. operetta either on May 17 or June 20 because of "artistic reasons," said spokeswoman Nadia Stefanizzi.
Last month, the daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung reported that the 47-year-old Austrian was "unhappy" with the staging by his compatriot Michael Sturminger, who infused vampires and Dracula's castle into the 19th-century Viennese operetta.
Welser-Moest conducted two performances March 29-30.
While Strauss' title literally means "The Bat," the operetta focuses on amorous intrigue at a bourgeois home, a ball and finally a Vienna jail. The bat serves only as the symbol of revenge that befalls the main character.
Stefanizzi said Ralf Weikert would conduct both of the performances in Welser-Moest's place.
A DVD that will go on sale still will feature Welser-Moest since there was enough material from the two performances he conducted to fill out the film, she said.
All other artistic projects involving the conductor and the Zurich Opera would proceed as planned, Stefanizzi said.
Welser-Moest is scheduled to conduct four performances of Bizet's "Carmen" at this summer's Zurich Festival, where he will also lead a concert and Richard Strauss' "Rosenkavalier" to mark the end of his tenure as the opera house's general music director.
In the coming season, he returns to the house for Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro" and will conduct four performances of "Cosi Fan Tutte" at next summer's Zurich Festival.
Welser-Moest will become music director of the Vienna State Opera beginning in the 2010-11 season.