Frank Cadenhead reported in Opera Today that Chinese conductor and pianist Xu Zhong will be the new artistic director of an Italian opera house, the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania.

He succeeds maestro Will Humburg who resigned in December. “I am greatly honored by this appointment, because this is the first time a Chinese conductor has come to Italy to direct a theater with a great tradition such as the Massimo Bellini,” Zhong declared.

Xu Zhong was the founder and director of the International Piano Competition of Shanghai and artistic director of the Shanghai Philharmonic. He is also principal guest conductor of the KBS Symphony Orchestra in Seoul, South Korea.

As far as I know, Zhong is the second Chinese conductor to helm a high-profile Italian music institution. Xian Zhang, who was the Associate Conductor of the New York Philharmonic for much of the later part of the 2000s,  has been serving as the Music Director of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi since 2009. She was the first woman to be named music director of an Italian symphony orchestra.