Breaking: English National Opera chief quits

John Berry has resigned as artistic director of English National Opera.

john berry

Artistically, the company has never known such heights as it reached under his direction. Financially and administratively, it is in deep trouble.

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  • If he was going to go, now makes sense. ENO can have a completely new era with a new Music Director and a new Artistic Director. Both Berry and Gardner are leaving on artistic highs.

  • Firstly, I would like to point out that the years of Lord Harewood and Peter Jonas with David Pountney and Mark Elder at the ENO had many greater heights (and Hits) in the period between 1975 and 1993 than the last few years’ tenure of John Berry. Admittedly they were years of increasing artistic innovation musically and production-wise. Though, to give JB credit, he certainly did have some highs to counteract the lows during the last few years and there are more than a few singers and musicians who flourished under his management (though it would have been nice to hear even more British singers in major roles than has been the case the last few seasons – admittedly I am biased).
    Secondly, the fact that ENO is struggling financially has not so much to do with John Berry per se, and much more to do with a pretty lacklustre and uninspired Board, as well as diminishing funding (which one could argue should one of the Board’s responsibilities and skills).
    Thirdly, one certainly could admit that maybe John Berry’s star had run it’s course into overtime and overusefulness. But, since he was so obviously forced to resign at short notice, why are the Board issuing such vacuous press releases? Added to that, please someone tell me what is the point of sacking the Artistic Director and leaving an enormous vacuum in the company at a time when it is seemingly turning upwards in terms of public/critical acclaim whilst still struggling with funding. I don’t actually understand the sense in getting rid of the head of the company when there is (as yet) no one there to take his place over a transition period. Haven’t seen the job advertised in the last few weeks (months?), that’s for sure.

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