We hear that Norwegian National Opera and Ballet has lost its fifth artistic director in eight years. Fonancially, it is holed below the aterline.
Here’s an update from Michael Fergus, in Oslo:
The design of Oslo’s spectacular Opera House, completed in 2008, has been widely acclaimed. Inside, however, things are not so cheerful. The Chief Executive Officer Nils Are Karstad Lysø has just resigned.
The Opera House has had five artistic directors in just 8 years. Lysø was an unlikely choice for the job. When phoned by the Opera to take the job, he is reported as saying “Have you maybe got the wrong number ….?” An accountant with a background in the clothing industry, had no experience, professed interest or track record in the Arts.
However his position within the Opera put him above both the Opera and Ballet chiefs. Within one year he had recommended that the five year contract of the Artistic Director of the Opera, Per Boye Hansen should not be renewed. This caused uproar and protests in artistic circles throughout Europe, as it was widely considered that Boye Hansen had made the Norwegian Opera one of the best and most innovative in Europe. But Lysø may have found the financial issues too hot to handle. While his own salary increased by 30%, the Opera was firing staff and lost € 7 million in 2015. Without pension costs, the Opera might have made a € 10 million profit.
The Opera is already advertising for a successor to Lysø. One of the requirements is that applicants should have and interest in and knowledge of Norwegian cultural life!