Breaking: Covent Garden chief quits

Breaking: Covent Garden chief quits


norman lebrecht

December 09, 2015

Kasper Holten, the energetic and occasionally controversial director of the Royal Opera, has decided to leave in 15 months time. The reason? He wants to raise his kids in Denmark.

You read it here first (as usual). UPDATE: Who’s next? 

Read on:

kasper holten



Alex Beard, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, announced this morning that Kasper Holten, Director of Opera at The Royal Opera, will be leaving the Company at the end of March 2017. The search to find his successor will begin in the New Year.

In a letter to staff Kasper Holten has written:

‘Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you as I want to share with you that I have decided to leave my position at The Royal Opera in March 2017.

I love working at ROH – and with all the amazing colleagues here – and it feels very painful to let go of that in 2017. But when I moved to London, my partner and I didn’t have children. Now we do, and after much soul searching we have decided that we want to be closer to our families and inevitably that means we make Copenhagen our home where the children will grow up and go to school.

So when Alex offered me an extension of my contract for another five years beyond summer 2016, I have decided only to ask for an extension of seven months, giving the ROH time to plan for my succession and for me to continue the work as long as possible. I will therefore leave my position in March 2017 after Tony and I open our new production of Wagner’s Meistersinger here at ROH. But my work isn’t done yet, so please don’t do too many farewells quite yet!

I will continue to work hard for The Royal Opera until the day I leave, and Tony and I will put strong plans in place for The Royal Opera until 2020 and beyond, with a varied repertory and many exciting new commissions and productions.

It is with a very heavy heart that I send you these lines, but at the end of the day this decision has been inevitable for me. I am deeply grateful to ROH and to all of you for the amazing adventure it has been to work here – and will continue to be for a while yet!

Warmest regards

Antonio Pappano, Music Director of The Royal Opera said: ‘Kasper Holten has been electric during his time at the Royal Opera House, demonstrating an uncanny energy, perseverance and vision for the future of our great institution. My collaboration with him on Król Roger was one of the most fruitful experiences I have had during my time at this theatre. I am very sad that he has decided he must leave, as I believe it will be a major loss for our Company, and for me personally. I wish him and his family the very best wishes for their future. Thank you Kasper for all that you have given to the ROH.’

Alex Beard, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House added: ‘Kasper Holten is a wonderful colleague and a good friend, and continues to bring extraordinary energy and vision as our Director of Opera. While I had very much hoped to work with him through to 2020 and beyond, I understand and respect his reasons for moving back to Copenhagen. Although sad that Kasper will be leaving, I am pleased that he has agreed to extend his contract until his new Meistersinger opens here in 2017.’

With best wishes,

Amanda Saunders
Director of Development

kasper holten


  • Freda says:

    Finally… bye bye!

  • Bengt Krantz says:

    Wonderful! For once a decision made out of human reasons.

  • SC says:

    Shame, he only just got started.

  • DESR says:

    Interesting timing, on the back of a much-needed triumph with Michieletto’s Cav & Pag… (As if to say, nothing to do with William Tell, or the fact that the ROH has had a number of duds…)

    The timing (surely to save his pride and everyone else’s honour) still cannot disguise that artistically he was, on the whole, a square peg in a round hole at the Garden, and possessed of extremely fitful judgement.

    There is no doubt that he did have moments of clarity, both in his judgement of others, and in terms of his own talents as a producer. Just not enough for this House.

    • John Field says:

      What a great relief to see the back of this erratic man who was clearly out of his depth! I just hope they now manage to quietly drop the clumsy Eugene Onegin which requires the cast to do such silly things and the pretentious Don Giovanni with its scribble (bright idea but disastrously over-worked) and its busy staircase (they all get to sing alone cos they’re dysfunctional – geddit?). I love these two operas but what Holsten made of them (and the way he flooded the foyer with self-aggrandising mementoes) was painful to watch