Robin Ticciati has had enough of Zurich Opera's controversial new Don Giovanni, pictured above. He has handed his baton in after just two performances, leaving music director Fabio Luisi to conduct the remainder of the long run.
Ticciati himself has not explained his reasons. The opera house say that he didn't like Sebastian Baumgarten's production. The director was heavily booed on opening night - as was Ticciati's conducting of Zurich's La Scintilla period orchestra.
Now, any conductor is entitled to his opinions about a staging, and Ticciati certainly has the weight of public opinion behind him if he doesn't care for this one. But then many conductors are jurassic creatures who take exception to any number of modern productions. The usual practice is to accept it as a job hazard and soldier on with gritted teeth like a good team player to support singers and other staff who in all probability share the sentiments.
But perhaps this particular production is so intolerable that Ticciati is genuinely unable to conduct it. If that's the case, his timing is odd. Baumgarten has been directing opera for nearly twenty years, and always provocatively. So an aesthetically-sensitive conductor should have identified the potential for a problem right at the start - let alone before six weeks of rehearsal and two public performances were up. Intendant Andreas Homoki claims surprise at the decision, saying Ticciati was "sometimes sceptical, but always constructive" during rehearsals.
Could there be more to Ticciati's withdrawal than meets the eye?
In an interesting parallel, Thomas Hengelbrock failed to return to Bayreuth's widely-reviled current Tannhäuser - another Baumgarten production - after his 2011 debut, though he did at least make it through one full run.