Chief Times critic calls for ENO cuts

Chief Times critic calls for ENO cuts


norman lebrecht

December 11, 2015

Richard Morrison publishes a diatribe today in favour of sacking lots of chorus and orchestra members at English National Opera to save it from insolvency. His justification:




Over the past 20 years ENO has had an astonishing £33 million in taxpayer-funded bailouts, over and above its annual grants and not including the present £7 million. So I find it ludicrous for ENO’s grand former stars — and Tony Pappano from his cushioned position at the Royal Opera House — to call for a “public debate” before the new management makes cuts. We’ve been debating ENO’s future for decades. It will be bankrupt in two years if action isn’t taken now.

What this proves is that ENO has been underfunded by an average £1.65 million over the past 20 years. Still £33 million is a lot of money to lose. He has a point.

But hang on: isn’t Richard Morrison also the chief cheerleader for the London Symphony Orchestra’s campaign to build a new concert hall for Simon Rattle? That hall, on prime City land, will cost half a billion pounds.

That’s 15 times ENO’s losses over 20 years. So much that the Government hasn’t dared publish the feasibility study it commissioned from Sir Nicholas Hytner. Half a billion pounds for the wrong building.

If anyone can spot an inconsistency in Richard’s position, please let us know.




  • SVM says:

    I hope the ISM management/Council is reading this, and making plans to rescind Morrison’s honorary ISM membership. It would be long overdue.

  • Eddie Mars says:

    The Hooray Henrys (& Henriettas) – correct, I *am* saying it again! – are set on the elimination of ENO, and have brought in the same Destruction Team they used to castrate Scottish Opera.

    It works in a similar way to removing historic buildings:
    1) cut off the funding
    2) let it fall into disrepair
    3) have it declared a dangerous structure
    4) pull it down ‘for public safety’ so that our chum Algernon can build his luxury apartment development instead.

    The above methodology has worked magnificently in Scotland. The height of achievement was sending the chorus and orchestra letters outlining ‘part-time jobs in local supermarkets’. Jolly spiffing, eh, what?

    The constructive bankruptcy of ENO has been set in motion. Clods like Morrison are its loyal executors. No mention is his piece about the artistic standards, or the fact that ENO is a repertory company, whereas the ROH operates with mainly foreign artistes who are bought-in per performance. But then – what would Rixhard Morrison know, or care?

    • Halldor says:

      So, explain again exactly what Arts Council *England* had to do with the decimation of Scottish Opera…? And how the horrid, horrid Tory Toffs in London managed to control in such detail a process that happened long before 2010, in an area of policy that’s wholly devolved to the Scottish Government…?

      • Eddie Mars says:

        They’ve hired the very same consultants to sack the ENO choristers & orchestra, as were hired to achieve the same results at SO.

        Do remind us all what a “success” they were at Scottish Opera, eh?

        It’s already mooted that ENO will only be able to stage 8 operas next season.

  • Anon says:

    In fairness to Richard, I’m not sure the two are so linked. London doesn’t have a great concert hall, but has numerous excellent orchestras and good audiences for them; so there’s a good argument for a new hall. London has two large-scale subsidised opera companies and it’s fair to question whether it could manage with one. Right now I believe ENO has been doing excellent things over the last few years and deserves it’s place alongside ROH, but it’s not unfair of Richard to ask the question.

  • Dave says:

    It’s not Morrison’ money. What does he care?