Beware of new building, it’s killing the orchestra

Beware of new building, it’s killing the orchestra


norman lebrecht

November 12, 2015

The Royal Opera in Copenhagen has announced savage cuts to help it meet the cost of maintaining a swanky new building, imposed on the company by ambitious politicians.

Copenhagen is having to lay off one in six staff members, including musicians, over the next four years. The Royal Opera will also stop making its own sets.

All in order to show off a showpiece of vanity architecture.

London Symphony Orchestra, are you reading me? Beware of what you want most.




  • Constance Deelen says:

    I’m glad you brought this up. It is happening, and has in the past more than we like to admit, in the Netherlands as well. It’s a very sad and disgraceful business!

  • Holger H. says:

    The drastic cuts are not necessary. Sweden, Germany, …, Denmark’s neighbors are increasing their cultural investments. Maybe Denmark is just not a very cultured country, and populist politicians cut, where the fewest people scream, in the high arts.
    One wonders what is Denmarks aspiration for the future. Do they have any? Or is the purpose of life in a democracy winning elections, and nothing else?
    Beware of your youth. Not entertain, EDUCATE them.

  • David Rendall says:

    Thank you Norman. This is enlightening and perhaps the reason that the Court in Copenhagen made the decision that my injuries were not caused by the accident that caused my disabilities. Having NOT to pay a large compensation settlement to me for my injuries will undoubtedly help their cause. BAS***DS!!!!!

  • Simon S. says:

    AFAIR, some years ago, another nordic opera company (Stockholm) earend severe criticism on Slipped Disc for the decision to simply refurbish the existing opera house instead of building a new one.

  • Anne63 says:

    “London Symphony Orchestra, are you reading me? Beware of what you want most.”

    I think the LSO will probably be OK, being where it is. Same reason why the ROH can attract private money, reported elsewhere in this blog. Surely the obvious comparison would be Liverpool’s plan for an iconic building on the waterfront – as if it doesn’t have any already.

    An opera house is an expensive building to run. Liverpool needs to think very carefully about this.

  • Odin Rathnam says:

    Norman THANK YOU for this important post.
    You see, these new structures represent so many lies. State funds meant for the arts going to architects, builders and lousy acousticians. So many millions get redirected away from the actual art forms this way, all over the world. I believe Harrisburg spent 56 million on the Whitaker Center. If the liquidation of the Whitaker Foundation had resulted in let’s say a three to five million dollar addition the the endowments of the top ten to 15 arts organizations in that region, I believe the health of the arts there would have been better served. Thats not to say I dont love many things about that center. But the price of building and ongoing expense of operating it has cut deeply into the coffers for actual presentation of music and art.

    • Sam McElroy says:

      Remember that the ROH in Copenhagen was not built by the Danish state. It was built as a personal gift to Denmark by the shipping magnate, A.P. Møller, of Maersk fame.

      • Holger H. says:

        It was a personal gift, and that’s part of the problem. Populist mainstream never supported a new opera house. That country has a big problem with elitism in its good sense.
        The Danish soul will only rest if everything is equally dull and mediocre for anyone.

  • Magnus Still says:

    Remember that Danish ROH (Det Kongelige Teater – DKT) is a 4 Sparten House: opera, theater, ballet and symphony orchestra, all with their unique profiles.
    The opera house was a private gift. Then the politicians countered with giving the theater it’s own and modern building. So instead of one house, there are suddenly three buildings DKT has to maintain…
    In addition, the Danish Radio built their own hall a couple of years ago.

    The Danish government already forced DKT to cut staff at least twice.

  • Una says:

    And London is shouting for another concert hall with no promise of new audiences? Keep the musicians we have in work in the concert halls we have!

    • Anne63 says:

      As I understand it, it’s a replacement for the Barbican Hall, not in addition to it, so finding a new audience will not be necessary.