Just in: Scottish Opera names music director

Just in: Scottish Opera names music director


norman lebrecht

April 21, 2015

The company is part-time and severely depleted.

It has just presented Stuart Stratford, a hard-working stalwart of the UK circuit, as the new music director.

The last man in the job, Emmanuel Joel-Hornak, resigned after just 58 days.



  • Malcolm james says:

    ‘A hard-working stalwart of the UK circuit’ = honest journeyman?

    • Halldor says:

      A bit more than that – he’s done some pretty adventurous operatic work with Birmingham Opera Company, Opera Holland Park and Buxton Festival: some of the UK’s most original and imaginative companies. And god knows Scottish Opera needs a steady hand on the tiller.

  • Iain Scott says:

    Whenever Slipped Disc turns its attention to Scotland,and those occasions are few,it is invariably wrong.
    Scottish Opera is not on top form but it is not part time and not depleted. Granted the orchestra and chorus are part time but there is a huge amount of touring and educational work going on.
    The reviews of Jenufa conducted by incoming Music Director Stuart Stratford were excellent ,the performances I attended suggested they have a good musician along the lines of Richard Farnes who is the true hero of Opera North.
    Always good to know you acknowledge places in the UK outwith London Norman but perhaps more effort is required,or maybe you cant be bothered ?

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Iain – I have taken the liberty of emboldening one phrase which attests to the accuracy of my statement. An opera company with part-time orchestra and chorus is a part-time opera, whatever else it might do in schools.

    • Una says:

      This is a good appointment, but the reality is that Scottish Opera IS only part-time when an orchestra and a chorus are chosen for each performance, and no proper job to sustain either, and there isn’t much other paid freelance work in Scotland for singers as there used to be. I was in Scottish Opera Chorus for three years in 1980, and they were far from happy years, particularly when I had been in the part-time Kent Opera before where the emphasis was on making music, rather than on politics and Equity meetings during intervals of ‘Traviata!’. I remember about five of the singers left to go to the happier Opera North Chorus in Leeds. Scottish Opera was seriously in debt then, and a situation like that always impacts on what everyone can do artistically, and puts people on the defensive when they are for ever looking over their shoulder in case they lost their jobs for more arbitory reasons. Scottish Opera was always good at going out to schools and community centres, particularly with its ‘Opera Go-Round’ wing. All opera companies are struggling today, but today it’s a long way off from when we went each year to Sadlers Wells, Newcastle three times a year, Manchester, Belfast, Aberdeen, Inverness, Edinburgh, with full orchestra and chorus, and mainstream repertoire with major names as singers, conductors and creative producers. The wonderful Ring they did some years ago and then it all went downhill again. Such a shame. I hope this is now going to be the start of something new. A stable opera company to support talent is what is needed, both artistically and financially, and as I said, this is a good appointment. I just hope he doesn’t buckle like the last one, and really wish him all the luck there is, and that the Scottish government see the benefit of a company like this, and fund it!

  • Gav says:

    sounds a good appointment … i thought SO’s recent Jenufa – which he conducted- was the best they’ve done for some time.

  • Iain Scott says:

    Norman and Una there is much in what you write but the situation is complex but the reality is that Scottish Opera was never intended to be the kind of full time company like the Royal Opera House Covent Garden,luxuriating in public money.
    Gibson and Hemmings had a different vision,one not tied to a particular theatre. Along came the offer of the Theatre Royal and things took a different course.
    On the positive I do hope that Stuart Stratford brings a visionary approach to Opera in Scotland and rethinks the art form for 21st century Scotland. The foundations have been laid. Alex Reedjik has balanced the books and there is a raft of really good productions. What has been missing has been great music making.
    Richard Armstrong was a strong Music Director but not interested in anything beyond.
    The real problem I had with the original post from you Norman was that it was glib.
    I know the workings of obscure minor US musical institutions are much more attractive to you these days as opposed to say Welsh National Opera,Scottish Chamber Orchestra,the Halle,CBSO,RSNO so you do not have time to devote to what is happening outwit London and the aforementioned obscure institutions.
    This is a shame because there are times Slipped Disc is invaluable at shining a light on the positive and less positive musical activity out there.