English National Opera Staff Protested Appointments

Classic Arts News   English National Opera Staff Protested Appointments
Representatives of English National Opera's staff wrote to Arts Council England in early December to object to the rapid appointment of John Berry and Loretta Tomasi as artistic director and chief executive, the London Guardian reports.

The elevation of the two ENO executives, shortly after the resignation of former artistic director and CEO S_an Doran, drew criticism from many opera figures. But the letter from the unions representing ENO's chorus, orchestra, and technical staff, which was acquired by the Guardian through the Freedom of Information Act, is the first evidence that the company's new leaders don't enjoy the confidence of their colleagues.

"In our view, an internationally renowned artistic director/chief executive with visionary leadership is needed," the letter read. "The lack of intention to recruit a leading artistic director is, in our view, very shortsighted."

In response, the ACE's chairman, Christopher Frayling, said that the arts funding organization could not "intervene in the running of ENO," but that "we expect all arts organizations in receipt of public funding to follow best practice in their recruitment process."

Weeks after the exchange, Martin Smith, the controversial chairman of the company, resigned under fire.

In an interview with the Guardian, also published today, Berry defended his qualifications for the job. "I've worked with 70 or 80 of the world's leading directors," he said. "My life has really been as a producer; that's what I do."

Formerly a freelance casting consultant, Berry joined ENO in 1995 as casting director and became director of opera programming in 2003.

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