Another chunk falls off English National Opera

Another chunk falls off English National Opera


norman lebrecht

April 17, 2019

Daniel Kramer is to leave ENO at the end of July ‘in order to focus on directing more opera and theatre’.

Kramer, whose recent productions have attracted hostile reviews, has been artistic director for just three years. He claimed not to read media.

Many felt he was too inexperienced when appointed. He was allowed to announce a new season just a week ago.

The board that appointed him remains in place. So it goes.

The company is out of credibility.

Read the face-saving stuff below.

ENO press release:

17 April 2019: Daniel Kramer is to step down as ENO’s Artistic Director at the end of July 2019 in order to focus on directing more opera and theatre full time.

He will continue to work with ENO until the end of 2019, as Artistic Consultant, to oversee the Orpheus series of four operas.

Stuart Murphy, CEO, ENO said: “I have loved working with Daniel as Artistic Director from day one. His continual desire to push for distinctive creative is hugely admirable, and his energy, sense of humour and passion for bringing new stories to life and nurturing new talent has been completely contagious.

“His seasons have been marked by a huge mix, from the Olivier nominated Turn of the Screw at Regent’s Park and Paul Bunyan at Wilton’s Music Hall, the Olivier Award winning Porgy and Bess, to SalomeIolanthe, and The Merry Widow, to the world premiere of Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel. Daniel’s War Requiem was a beautiful and stately reflection on the horrors of war, and deserves all of the accolades that it has received to date.

“He leaves with the very best wishes from everyone at ENO.”

Harry Brunjes, Chair, ENO said: “Over the course of his three years in the role, Daniel Kramer’s focus on creative artistic output is the underlying reason why our most recent season was both thought provoking and entertaining, as well as commercially successful.

“On behalf of the board I would like to personally thank him for all of his hard work and dedication to ENO. We are so pleased that he will continue to work with us on the Orpheus series and look forward to welcoming Daniel back at the London Coliseum. We wish him the best of luck as he pursues fantastic opportunities around the world.”

Martyn Brabbins, Music Director, ENO said: “Collaborating with Daniel has been an enormously rewarding and fruitful experience. I wish him all the good luck for the future and look forward to working with him again in the autumn on Harrison Birtwistle’s The Mask of Orpheus – a project that we are both passionate about.

“The season ahead has a huge breadth and depth of work, and I continue to be excited for the next chapter for ENO.”

Daniel Kramer said: “I am proud to leave ENO after a season that has broken box office records, innovated and challenged, while delivering commercial success. We have recruited thousands of new, diverse and young audience members, and over-achieved our year box office target, delivering on our promise to provide “Opera for All” and reflect the diversity of our culture. I am particularly proud that the work we initiated outside the Coliseum has been such an equally resounding success with numerous 4 and 5 star reviews, awards and nominations.

“I am looking forward to continuing my relationship with ENO, overseeing the Orpheus series I commissioned, as well as directing Birtwistle’s The Mask of Orpheus. Stepping back will allow me to focus full-time on my 2019/20 freelance directing commitments of La boheme and Nixon in China in Europe, and War Requiem in Taiwan. Never has an experience been more fruitful, more demanding, nor more clarifying to my beliefs as an artist. I thank everyone who crossed my path at ENO and wish Stuart, Martyn, the Board and everyone at ENO the absolute best in this new chapter.”

In order to ensure a seamless transition for the rest of the 2019/20 season, and as ENO plan up to the 2021/22 season, Bob Holland in his role as Associate Artistic Director will continue to work closely with Martyn as well as with the rest of the artistic team to deliver plans beyond those that ENO are committed to already.


  • Henry Rosen says:

    Good. Let’s hope the board can get the next appointment right! If only some of them actually knew or cared about OPERA. This is make or break time..

    • Christopher Storey says:

      What on earth does “desire to push for distinctive creative ” mean – if anything ? Is it any wonder that ENO is in such a mess with statements of this nature being made

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    They should take the opportunity, yet another in a long list of those already missed, to set up a revue of whether ENO is actually viable, with particular reference to the suitability of the Coliseum as their base.

    The hollowed out shell that ENO has become needs more than another artistic director and it cannot just be a matter of funding.

    Is there any longer a sufficient audience to fill the theatre for the length of season they used to be able to mount? In the age of live relays, something they cannot even manage to participate in, is it easier to just nip round to your local odeon to see much better opera than they can stage at a fraction of the cost?

    Outside London both ON and WNO have equally struggled with a reducing audience as well as reduced funding, so the issue is not purely one for ENO but they are the most high profile case of the changed conditions for the Lyric Arts.

    Who takes on the job of running the company is now perhaps less important as to what future the company actually has in its current form , and if indeed it has any sustainable future at all.

  • John Groves says:

    At least Brabbins is staying. If Kramer is going to Taiwan, long may he stay there! Surely ENO must be able to find an ‘intendant’? There must be some very capable people in charge of the German/Austrian regional houses that could be persuaded to take a cut in pay and conditions to lead ENO? We keep on looking back to the 70s and 80s when ENO seemed to be one of the very best companies – WHAT HAPPENED? (Not just John Berry!)

    • M Le Balai says:

      What happened is a massive change not only in how the arts is funded in this country, but also a change in the audiences and their expectations. I can’t help but agree with Cynical Bystander that, whether or not you agree with Kramer’s artistic choices (and let’s face it, bearing in mind the critics responses to recent new productions at ENO, his departure is unlikely to be a surprise to anyone), ENO management seems a poisoned chalice at present, and it’s not the only company struggling in a very different arts world to that of the 70’s and 80’s. As to the suggestion of an German/Austrian intendant model, Schwarz’s recent departure from Glyndebourne is perhaps telling…

  • Bob Goldsmith says:

    Daniel Kramer deserves some credit and recognition for his achievements, rather than the perpetual moaning of the growsers who haunt this site.

    Kramer has revived the morale and excitement of the chorus and company singers, celebrated the achievement of all the back-stage production teams and brought them to the notice of audiences.
    and welcomed back to the Coliseum so many loved singers (including mwny neglected former Harwood Artists) to the pleasure of audiences. Through his creative imagination he has created a new successful model for summer-time productions outside The Coliseum, including the wonderful partnership with the Open Air Theatre Regents Park (starting with Turn of the Screw and now this season Hansel and Gretal); initiatives to bring children to opera (this summer’s Dido for example) and the Open Studio. His energy and flair has rebuilt ENO’s audiences. When he took over the company was effectivy moribund, so please give credit where it’s due. The ENO has refound its mojo.

    Kramer’s role has been as a ‘change manager’, a concept well understood and valued certainly in public sector organisations, coming to ENO with huge energy to rebuild morale and create new directions for the company and widen audiences These he have been achieved. The 201o / 2020 programme looks exciting. Nobody could sustain this work for more than three years. And Kramer is probably not the person for longer-term management. The roles are different.

    Now an experienced opera intendant can take over. But s(he will not succeed if your brick-bats and abuse make this a poisoned chalice. So lay off you old moaners. Many of you I suspect have not been to the ENO for years and have malicious reasons for willing its demise.

    • Tone-row says:

      I would second that. Three sell-out productions this season, very strong attendances at most of the other shows, lots of new audiences none of whom would be able to lay a hand on a Covent Garden ticket even if they wanted to, strong and imaginative projects outside the Coli, very strong musical performance standards… combined with no enthusiasm of the Arts Council to fund a longer Coliseum season. Much of the above must come down to Kramer’s vision, enthusiasm and leadership. The catch however was that he primarily wants to direct shows rather than manage from behind the scenes. I would guess that suffering more Kramer productions was a price too high for continuing his directorship. He had to move on but ENO appears to be on strong footing and is not about to fold!!

      Covent Garden’s new season announcement seems very delayed this year; Kasper Holten had a good few Turkeys and left early in his reign etc but no one ever says ROH is about to shut up shop!

    • Tatiana says:

      The sell out shows were nothing to do with him. The summer seasons were not his idea. Nobody is shedding a tear at his departure. No show of his was ever revivable.

  • Jamesay says:

    A poor appointment to start with. Tired of him being credited for Porgy which was another director’s work ! He knew nothing about running a company and judging by his own “creative” knows equally little about stagecraft or how to stage opera. He’s another “talker” that suavely persuades gullible or ignorant managements and Boards (And there’s plenty of those in the opera world) to get his vision but cannot cash the checks he writes!

  • Doug Palmer says:

    Mr Lebrecht –
    Two years ago I mentioned that somebody ought to make an opera out of Raymond Chandler’s “Farewell my Lovely”.
    You agreed,
    Probably just to be polite.
    That work now exists.