Warning of Brexit blight on British opera

Warning of Brexit blight on British opera


norman lebrecht

June 22, 2016

Richard Mantle, general director of Opera North says:

‘I think you can certainly see over the last 40 years the real value of being part of an enormous talent pool which is Europe… This natural exchange of ideas, of people, of talent that has gone on over 30 or 40 years has really strengthened and enriched our cultural sector to an extent that possibly wouldn’t have been there in the past. So many young artists, singers musicians, directors, designers, all sorts of things, have exported their talents into Europe, they often go and work there and they come back. Art does transcend borders and my concern is that I don’t want to see us become more isolationist again because I think there is a great richness and diversity in freedom of movement.’

Yeah, but he’s a specialist and Brexit voters don’t listen to experts, right?


Leeds, by the way, is bidding to be Europe’s culture capital in 2023. Forget that, if Brexit wins.

A scene from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by Opera North @ Leeds Grand Theatre
(opening 3-05-08)
©Tristram Kenton 05/08
(3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550  Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com


  • Dirk Fischer says:

    Richard Mantle is very correct. Anyone who has ever had to do any business whatsoever, internationally, would feel it insane to leave the European Union. It is a blessing for all smaller and middle businesses.

  • DESR says:

    He is a specialist in running Opera North (one hopes).

    Whether he is a specialist in the many political, cultural and economic matters at the heart of the vote tomorrow is rather more arguable. I certainly don’t blame him for not relishing any changes, as arts organisations are hard enough to run.

    Can I assume the Ring in London will still be given next week by Opera North if we vote for Brexit?

    Or perhaps they will already have gone bankrupt, or lost most of the cast members who will have been deported by then?

    • David R Osborne (composer) says:

      What an odd comment. Of course he’s an expert on how Brexit will affect the arts. It would be a catastrophe. But what on earth has the current financial health of the company, or next week’s Ring got to do with any of that?

      • David Osborne says:

        Oh dear, stupid smart phone with it’s auto complete. That looks rather pretentious. I meant to post just as plain old me.

  • Steven Fennell says:

    The Ring will be on in London next week whatever the outcome – and it will be on in Gateshead the week after if you want to hear it in a better accoustic!

    The current cycle has singers from other member states as Loge, Alberich, Fafner, Wotan/Wanderer, Siegmund, and Siegfried. There’s also an outstanding American Brunnhilde. I have no idea how easy it is to get singers from outside the EU for opera companies, which might be a good starting point for any discussion. I suspect it’s easier to get EU singers than non-EU singers. I can easily envisage “taking control of our borders” to become “letting inefficient British legislators and civil servants exclude exactly the sort of people we all want to come here”.

    Norman – do you have any specialist knowledge to share on the finances for non-EU opera singers?

  • DESR says:

    I fear my last two sentences were an attempt at satire.

  • David Boxwell says:

    On the other hand, for example, the 1958 Covent Garden production had an Italian conductor (Giulini); an Italian producer (Visconti); and principal singng by a Canadian (Vickers), a Dutch woman (Brouwenstijn); an Italian (Gobbi); another Italian (Barbieri); and a Bulgarian (Christoff).

    This was when Britain was supposedly an insular and provincial country, remote from Europe.

  • David Boxwell says:

    Verdi’s Don Carlos, that is.

  • John G. Deacon says:

    I am glad we have reached the end of the campaign as some of your comments on this subject have come very close to being submitted to the Piffle of the Week awards (started with Jonas, I recall).

  • Holly Golightly says:

    Well, it’s now a fait accompli and the UK has voted to uphold Brexit.

    The people have shown the imagination and courage to vote for life without the umbilical chord of the fabulously dysfunctional and crony ridden EU.

    Well done!!