The one man who can save ENO

The one man who can save ENO


norman lebrecht

February 16, 2015

Every discussion of English National Opera’s problems winds up at the same door: the boardroom.

Say what you like about the achievements of John Berry, the company’s director, but governance is in the hands of the board, and the board has taken no responsibility for anything since Vernon Ellis handed over the chairmanship to Peter Bazalgette, who did a midnight flit to the Arts Council, where he has led the witch-hunt against Berry.

Yes, it’s that kind of board – divided, and divisive. Hopeless.

The solution? The board must go. But who will step up to chair a company that has lost the confidence of its funding body?

There is one person. He’s an opera lover and opera-goer. Immensely wealthy. Passionate about England and its institutions. Exceptionally adroit at business.

Don’t even think of smiling. He’s the best man for the job.

andrew lloyd webber

He is certain to be informally approached.

You read it here first.


  • DLowe says:

    Very interesting indeed. The clout that would be given by this to ENO against ACE alone would do it the power of good. But would he do it? As a composer, he seems to have largely had his day; this could be an Indian Summer for him. He’s getting on in years a bit though, and this is a role that would be very demanding on him – and would he want to give up/keep at the same time his other commitments?

    • Una says:

      Too old? The Pope who has captured the hearts and minds of people outside the Catholic church and some of my aethiest friends, is 78, and he’s up to running the biggest church in the world, not just the bishop of Rome. Why not Andrew for this relatively little opera company in London? He’d be great. How old is Andrew to be too old? He’s only 66. Not exactly ancient. It’s not about numbers in life, it’s about energy and charisma, and in the case of ENO, bringing in both people and money, and possibly getting on the road and touring like it used to.

      I adore ENO and I would hate it to go down the chute but the way it’s going at the moment isn’t great, inspite of some wonderful productions and innovation at prices that are affordable.

      • DLowe says:

        I didn’t say I thought he was “too old”. I think he’d be a superb choice. I don’t discriminate against anyone based on age, particularly artistically, where I find experience tends to be rather valuable. My point was that at a time when most people (but certainly not all) seek to wind down, would he want to take on the huge amount of responsibility that the job would bring, especially when he has other commitments?

  • Tony Halstead says:

    What a brilliant idea, Norman!

  • Nick says:

    Interesting, and I agree about the passion etc. But I am not so sure. What the ENO seems to need is not merely a figurehead but a tough, experienced Board player who knows what he wants and, importantly, how to win a Board and then all the ENO’s various stakeholders round to that ideal. ALW may be the boss of his own successful company but his skills are primarily creative not management. Other do that for him. Would he not find himself in conflict with John Berry or whoever might be the Artistic Director?

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    ALW would be an excellent choice.

  • Sam Flaxman says:

    Sorry, but Peter Bazalgette has been conspicuous in recusing himself from any and all discussions surrounding ENO, so the complete fabrication that it’s he that is leading a “witch-hunt” against Mr Berry is out and out bunkum. Nice to speculate so wildly and damagingly and yet profess to want the best for the ENO.
    By all means question whether or not Sir PB could have been a stronger advocate, despite the seeming impropriety of same (and about which ENO detractors would undoubtedly whine and complain) but to lay claims of a witch hunt at his feet is utter fantasy.

    Want to help? Be constructive with this marvellous platform rather than peddling arrant nonsense.



  • Hilary says:

    The latest show is one of ENOs greatest hits to date and will help it’s reputation: Mastersingers of Nuremberg.
    Of the contemporary operas it has commissioned Gerald Barry’s ‘Bitter tears of petra von Kant’ was my favourite. I saw it twice.