VIENNA The Salzburg Festival has agreed to let director Alexander Pereira go early after falling out over his new post as manager of Milan opera house La Scala.
Pereira, who upset Austria's cultural establishment by taking on the La Scala role before finishing his term at the Salzburg classical music festival, will now leave two years early at the end of September 2014.
He is due to start at La Scala in 2015.
"When I came to Salzburg, I could not have imagined that I would ever do anything other than Salzburg," Pereira told Austrian ORF radio in an interview aired on Wednesday. "I signed my contract without a second thought."
The annual summer festival in Mozart's birthplace became a fixture of the international classical music scene under Herbert von Karajan, who was its artistic director from 1956 until his death in 1989.
Markus Hinterhaeuser, a pianist and former interim director of the Salzburg Festival who will become available in 2017 after running the Vienna Festival for three years, is considered the favorite to succeed Pereira.
The Salzburg Festival's head of theatre, Sven-Eric Bechtolf, will run the festival until then.
Pereira said he would not try to poach Salzburg's sponsors, which include Nestle, Audi, Siemens and Rolex.
The Salzburg Festival's annual budget is 60 million euros ($80 million), which Pereira had overspent by 5 million, angering the city's mayor.
(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan, editing by Paul Casciato)