SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- The conductor of the Santa Fe Opera is stepping down.
Edo de Waart, who has been chief conductor at the opera since last year, cited family and health reasons.
"My decision to leave, although difficult, was made because I wish to spend more time with my family, and summers afford that opportunity," de Waart said in a statement released by the opera Friday.
De Waart, 67, lives in Middleton, Wis., with his wife and two young children.
"I have also found the Santa Fe altitude a more difficult adjustment, and that too was a factor," he said.
Santa Fe is high and dry - elevation 7,000 feet - and performers at the open-air summer opera sometimes have trouble adjusting to the conditions.
De Waart currently is music director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic. He will assume the title of music director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra next year and become one of four artistic partners of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in 2010. He will remain as chief conductor and continue to work with the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra at least through the end of the 2009 season.