English National Opera digs a deep grey hole

English National Opera digs a deep grey hole


norman lebrecht

September 21, 2015

Headless since the last chairman winged away and the putsch that removed John Berry as artistic and executive director, the ENO board has made two stand-ins into permanent appointments.

Harry Brünjes is confirmed as chairman and Cressida Pollock as chief executive. Brunjes is a pioneer in private medicine. Pollock is a McKinsey management consultant who speaks geek jargon.

Neither inspires much confidence within the company, but the Arts Council likes grey suits. Both are on three-year terms.

There are grim, colourless times ahead for ENO.

coliseum eno


  • Dileep Gangolli says:

    Hopefully they will develop a method of doing the Ring Cycle with part time and temp workers (since not everyone performs all the time and in all the operas). That will reduce costs and improve the bottom line making the board quite happy. There has been quite a bit of excess in productions for the past 100 plus years.

  • Jonathan Grieves-Smith says:

    They are not grim & colourless with Mark Wigglesworth there

  • Ks. Christopher Robson says:

    So no news of an artistic director yet 🙁

  • Sanchia Norman says:

    I strongly disagree. It seems to me that for the first time in many years, ENO is finally being run responsibly as a business should be – particularly important in one which takes a government subsidy. I’m no fan generally of the Arts Council, but as a taxpayer I think it’s entirely reasonable that they should require at least adequate business governance in the companies that they provide grants to. This has long been lacking at ENO, and – from what I can see – is at last being implemented.

    Artistic decisions should be being made on the artistic side, and – by necessity -should be constrained by financial limitations controlled by the business side. It’s not a complicated equation – all productions must be both financially feasible and commercially attractive to audiences and sponsors. There is no logic at all which dictates that the resulting output should be colourless, and as Jonathan says above, this is hardly likely with Wigglesworth in charge as MD.

    The situation which existed previously, where production costs were allowed to run 100% over budget was outrageous, vastly self-indulgent and grossly negligent. No sane business would run in this way, and ENO should never have been allowed to do so either.

    • Jhb says:

      Sanchia norman – just wondering where the figures for your 100% over budget production costs came from? Whatever the past, current or future status of management and artistic direction I’ve worked there freelance on many shows and none of them have been over budget in any such way and have, moreover, always been produced with budgets clearly outlined and held in mind. Just to moderate outrage, vast self indulgence and gross negligence. Most people at the Coliseum are just working damn hard to make the best work they can.

      • Sanchia Norman says:

        I’d completely agree with your last sentence, JHB! Probably best not to name specific names here, but let’s just say that some of the higher profile directors seem to have been far less financially constrained than others…