British Artists Call for English National Opera Chair to Step Down

Classic Arts News   British Artists Call for English National Opera Chair to Step Down
A group of leading British music figures and other artists have issued an open letter calling for the resignation of Martin Smith, the chairman of English National Opera, the London Independent reports.

Those signing the letter include tenor Philip Landridge, who has appeared many time at ENO; composer Jonathan Dove; writer Jeanette Winterson; Ashley Page, the artistic director of Scottish Ballet; BBC radio host Libby Purves; and opera director David Pountney, who was director of productions at ENO in the 1980s.

Smith has endured a storm of criticism since ENO artistic director Sešn Doran resigned last month and was quickly replaced from within. The change of leadership came just two years after Smith forced out general director Nicholas Payne, a move also widely condemned in the arts community.

"Mr. Smith's style of chairmanship, we believe, has been most damaging to this important institution and has brought about a crisis point," the letter reads in part. "Sadly, the very survival of ENO is now openly questioned and an urgent change in leadership is necessary to ensure a better future."

The release of the letter today coincides with a gala performance of Anthony Minghella's production of Madama Butterfly, with Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, in attendance.

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