MILAN (AP) — La Scala’s board on Friday named the general manager of the Vienna State Opera, Frenchman Dominique Meyer, as its new general manger beginning next year.

Mayor Giuseppe Sala said the outgoing general manager and artistic director, Alexander Pereira, would overlap with Meyer through June 2021, staying on to help oversee productions he has already set in motion.

Meyer called the appointment to succeed Peirera “a great honor.”

“For many years I have felt connected to this house, which I love and admire,” he said in a statement. “After wonderful years in Vienna, Paris and Lausanne, I am overjoyed to be able to start a new adventure in Milan,” adding: “Italy has always held a special place in my heart.”

“I will do everything it takes to start shaping the artistic future of this great opera house efficiently, smoothly and with respect for the house and Alexander Pereira,” he said.

The succession created behind-the-scenes drama at the opera house — with star soprano Cecilia Bartoli announcing on Facebook that she was withdrawing from a production of Handel’s Giulio Cesare in solidarity with Pereira, a long-time friend.

Pereira, who was tapped for his fund-raising prowess, has helped find 58 million euros ($65 million) in new private funding, but had political run-ins from the start. During one, Sala said the Austrian had demonstrated a level of political naivete in navigating management of one of the world’s most prestigious opera houses.