Ioan Holender (born Johann Hollaender, born 18 July 1935, Timişoara) is a Romanian singer, manager and director of opera. He is the General Manager of the Vienna State Opera.
Holender's family is of Jewish ancestry, and growing up, he spoke 3 languages. His father owned a factory in Timişoara, which was expropriated in 1948. After baccalaureate, Holender studied for three years mechanical engineering at the Technical University in Timişoara, specialty steam machines and successfully completed the first round of the state examination. While in third year of studies, in 1956, he was expelled from the whole Romanian higher education system on political grounds, following his participation at students movements. He worked as a tennis coach and a stage director assistant until he and his family emigrated to Austria, where his mother was residing. He intended to continue his engineering studies, but became interested in singing. After completing his music studies - Canto at Vienna Conservatoire (1959-1962), from 1962 to 1966 he started a career as an operatic baritone and concert singer and sang two seasons at the Klagenfurt Stadttheater.
In 1966, he began to work at the Starka theatrical agency, which he eventually took over and, under the name of Holender Opera Agency, increased the prestige and made it one of the most important German Agencies.
In 1988, Eberhard Waechter named Holender as Secretary-General of the Vienna State Opera, effective as of 1991. There was controversy as this appointment, because of perceived conflicts of interest between this post and his prior association with his theatrical agency. Eventually, Holender dissociated himself from the Starka business. After Waechter's death in February 1992, Holender became Director of the Vienna State Opera on 1 April 1992. He also led the Vienna Volksoper for 4 years simultaneously. Holender's contract was extended three times and his tenure is scheduled to conclude on 31 August 2010. At the conclusion of his tenure, he will have been the longest-serving general director in the history of the Vienna State Opera.
In the years 2002 – 2004 he was artistic consultant of the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Since 2003 he is honorary president and artistic director of the George Enescu Festivals in Bucharest / Romania. In addition he is a guest lecturer at the Vienna University Institute of Theater, Film and Media Sciences and at the Danube University Krems. Further he is a jury member for several international singing-competitions.
He has received five honorary doctorates and is a recipient of the Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria and the Gold Medal for meritorious service to the State of Vienna, the Award in Gold of the State of Vienna as well as the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art I. Class. In 1999 he was appointed "Officier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres" by the French Republic. He is Honorary Member of the Romanian Academy.
Ioan Holender is an Honorary Member of the Vienna State Opera and the Vienna Volksoper. He holds the Clemens Krauss Medal given by the Vienna State Opera chorus, the Golden "Franz Schalk" Medal given by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and has also been awarded the honorary citizenship of his native town Timisoara. During the first tour of Vienna State Opera in Bucharest (George-Enescu-Festival) in September 2001 he has been decorated with the most important Romanian medal. In December 2002 he received the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria. Further he received the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold of the Italian Republic in June 2004 and with this has been appointed "Commendatore". In May 2005 he was awarded the „Europäischer Kultur Initiativ Preis“ of the European Foundation for Culture Pro Europa and the Prize for a long life activity dedicated to culture and for the contribution to the assertion of the Romanian values throughout the world, awarded by the Romanian Cultural Foundation.
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