With Harsh Words, Conductor Mikko Franck Resigns From Finnish National Opera

Classic Arts News   With Harsh Words, Conductor Mikko Franck Resigns From Finnish National Opera
Mikko Franck, the 28-year-old music director of the Finnish National Opera, has resigned, having begun his tenure only last August.

According to the Helsinki newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, Franck made his announcement yesterday, citing a loss of confidence in Erkki Korhonen, the company's general director, and Pekka Kauranen, the administrative director.

"[Kauranen] has assumed authority over issues that are not within his competence and which actually belong to the general director. The situation is chaotic, as the general director is just standing by and is not managing the establishment," the paper quotes Franck as saying.

According to the musicians in the orchestra, Franck's resignation is one more indication of the company's "administrative chaos resembling a state of liquidation."

The Finnish National Opera has had a rocky road recently; an announcement was made last April that as a result of a €1.8 million deficit in 2005, 40 employees would be made redundant.

Franck reportedly opposed Kauranen's plan for a five-day week beginning in 2008, a cost-cutting measure proposed last month which was approved by the board today. Mainstage performances will be reduced by up to 20% and fewer rehearsals will be held on the main stage.

In addition, house staff and the opera's executive management will no longer have voting rights at board meetings; a new board will be appointed this spring. Finland's Ministry of Education (which provides funds for the company) will monitor the company's finances more closely in future. "The owners' control will tighten and strengthen," the paper quotes board chairman Seppo Tiitinen as saying.

Franck said in his announcement, according to the Sanomat, "The Opera has a top-class orchestra and choir, as well as a number of excellent soloists, and the ballet is at a high level. The entire personnel are excellent and the attitudes towards work are good. Initially I accepted this post as the opera had so much artistic potential."

Born in 1979, Franck became the youngest person appointed music director of the company when he was picked for the job in 2004 at age 25. His five-year tenure had been slated to run from August 2006 until 2011.

At the FNO, Franck has conducted The Magic Flute, L'Elisir d'amore, Don Giovanni, and Tosca, as well as new productions of La Bohme, Khovanshchina, Manon Lescaut, Parsifal, and Eugene Onegin, and the world premiere of Einojuhani Rautavaara's Rasputin.

Franck began to play the violin at the age of five and entered Helsinki's Sibelius Academy in 1992, subsequently studying in New York, Israel and Sweden. He began studying conducting in 1995, first privately with Jorma Panula and later, between 1996 and 1997, at the Sibelius Academy.

The Finnish National Opera house is scheduled to be closed for renovations this summer.

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