Inexperience rules at London’s opera houses

Inexperience rules at London’s opera houses


norman lebrecht

September 12, 2016

The new director of the Royal Opera at Covent Garden, Oliver Mears, has held one previous job, in Northern Ireland.

The director of English National Opera, Daniel Kramer, has held none.

Neither has run a major enterprise before.

Neither has much by way of international credits or contacts.

Both are answerable to boards of uncertainty. Covent Garden has a new chairman, Ian Taylor. ENO’s board has presided over one calamity after the next.

Both houses are investing their energies in building renovation.

These are testing times for opera in London.

covent garden



  • Halldor says:

    Hey, well never mind: it’s just one city. Opera North and Welsh National Opera are on an artistic roll, and they’ve got far more ambitious touring programmes. There’s never been a better time to quit the capital!

  • Keonada says:

    I can’t speak for the WNO but I’ve had fantastic experiences with Opera North, not least with their recent Ring Cycle. I consider myself to be very privileged to have had such easy access to relatively cheap yet really enjoyable opera. I also prefer the intimacy of the Leeds Grand Theatre to the ROH; it’s really a shame that the former doesn’t often enjoy full houses. That being said, one cannot fault the production values of the ROH!

  • Richard Gibbs says:

    I believe they offered it to Zeffirelli but he said as they had got rid of pretty well all of his old productions, he didn’t fancy starting again from scratch, so he turned them down.

  • Tim Walton says:

    Hower well he does atCovent Garden it will be impossible to do worse than the current incumbent.

    • SC says:

      That is such an undifferentiated remark as to be just silly. You ignore some universally acclaimed successes, and presumably write off productions other people liked but you didn’t.

      If you list all the shows Kasper Holten has been responsible for at ROH (ignoring those put in place by his predeccesors but often confused with him), including those directed by him as well as those directed by others, the score sheet might look rather better than you suggest.

      • Tim Walton says:

        King Roger was good, I’ll give you that but Eugene Ogegin was absolute crap.

      • Robin Worth says:

        What were the “universally acclaimed successes” you refer to?

        And what about Idomeneo, Ballo, Guillaume Tell and Lucia ? All dire, all unlikely to be revived and all part of the Holten regime.

        • SC says:

          Orfeo, Ormindo, Krol Roger, CavPag, for starters. Incidentally, as to the Eugene Onegin, someone called Nigel Ashton posted this on hearing the news of Kasper Holten’s departure:-

          “The greatest and most intelligent staging of Eugene Onegin I have ever seen, solving all the problems of the passage of time, genius – how we will miss him.”

  • Una says:

    Maybe I’ve just misread this, but it sounds as if Opera North and Opera Northern Ireland have got mixed up here?

    Opera North aka Leeds, is absolutely wonderful, and has been from it’s inception in 1978.

    • Keonada says:

      Oops perhaps you’re right! Was not aware of Opera Northern Ireland. Either way my comment was about the Opera North in Leeds.

  • Tim Walton says:

    Interesting that his production of Macbeth, borrowed by Welsh NO has been slated in the press.