A much-modified press release has just landed, announcing the departure of John Berry from ENO. The Arts Council, which has been demanding his resignation for more than a year, offers smug satisfaction. See the bottom paragraph of these official equivocations.
English National Opera (ENO) has announced today that its Artistic Director, John Berry CBE, intends to step down from his role after 20 years with the Company. Commenting on his decision to leave the Company, John Berry said:
“My work is now done and ENO is today regarded as one of the most creative forces in opera.The decision feels right to leave at the end of a hugely successful season both from an artistic perspective and in terms of audience numbers. ENO is an institution that has an international reputation for producing important new work, recognised by opera awards won at the Oliviers earlier this year and the recent Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award for Opera and Music Theatre. We played to packed houses for Sweeney Todd – over half the audience had never visited the London Coliseum before – and we welcomed record numbers to see The Pirates of Penzance on stage and in cinemas across the UK.
“After eight seasons leading the Company artistically and as the award winning 14/15 season comes to a close, I am looking forward to spending the summer deciding on my next role. I look forward to remaining involved with ENO in the future, as an audience member and supporter.”
Speaking on behalf of the board, Acting Chairman Harry Brunjes said: “John Berry’s contribution to ENO over the past two decades has been phenomenal. Under his leadership, the artistic programme at ENO has been unrivalled in its quality, ability to entertain and to innovate. He has helped build ENO a UK-wide and international reputation for excellent dramatic opera that makes us unique – introducing directors from other art forms to the world of opera. He has driven the use of international collaborations bringing in significant financial contributions to our productions and has been instrumental in forging a future for the London Coliseum with a partnership with Benugo. We have been fortunate to have John’s insight and capability driving productions which have thrilled our audiences over the last ten years. My fellow trustees and I all wish him every success in his future endeavours. I would like to thank John for helping us stabilise the Company as we continue to build a sustainable and fiscally sound organisation.”
Artistic planning at ENO will continue under the present team working closely with the Board’s Artistic Committee headed up by Anthony Whitworth-Jones.
Sir Vernon Ellis, President also commented: “We all wish John Berry well for the future. We are very confident that the artistic team will maintain ENO’s high standards of excellence and entertainment quality going forward. We are looking forward to the new season and our new Music Director, Mark Wigglesworth, joining us. Mark has already been involved in the planning for future seasons.”
Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England added: “John Berry’s track record for innovative and challenging work is well established and warmly welcomed across the global opera fraternity. Throughout his time at ENO he has demonstrated a strong commitment to keeping opera at the cutting edge of cultural production in the UK. We wish him all the best for the future.
“We’ll continue to work closely with ENO as they develop their business model and plans to bring excellent and exciting work to broader audiences.”