The Telegraph hires a tame opera critic

The Telegraph hires a tame opera critic


norman lebrecht

August 10, 2021

The Telegraph, a British newspaper group, this morning appointed a chief opera critic to replace Rupert Christiansen, who has retired at 66.

Rupert was a combative writer who often took institutions and artist to task for their failings.

His successor is to be Sir Nicholas Kenyon, 70, who has just stepped down as the Barbican’s music director. Before that, he was head of the BBC Proms and Radio 3. He has also served on various arts boards including Arts Council England and English National Opera.

Before that, a very long time, ago (until 1992), he was a critic on the Observer and the New Yorker, He was, even then, an establishment trustee, not known for uttering a harsh word for those in positions of cultural authority.

The Telegraph have hired a critic who will not speak truth to power.

He said today: ‘I’m thrilled, after a long and rewarding period of management, to be invited back into the critic’s chair once again, at this vital moment in the recovery of the arts.  I look forward very much to joining The Telegraph‘s arts desk, and surveying the UK’s operatic scene in all its growing variety and ambition.’


  • Rob says:

    I thought he did a poor job at the proms, but I don’t partake in the Telegraph so lucky me.

    • Rob Keeley says:

      I agree abut his tenureship (far too long) at the Proms, but look at what it has since become, and NK’s years will be seen as golden. Glock and the much-maligned Ponsonby will be spinning in their graves.

  • Paul Dawson says:

    One of SD’s more spiteful stories. Making an assumption of how someone will perform today, based on their performance of some three decades ago, is unworthy.

    As the financial ads are obliged to state “Past performance may not be indicative of future results.”

  • Brian says:

    Say what you will of their choice, I’m impressed that a newspaper in 2021 would hire a critic specifically dedicated to opera. These days, at least in the US, you’re lucky to get an all-around arts critic who covers museums, theater and maybe a little classical from time to time.

  • Allen says:

    At least the paper has an opera critic.

  • erich says:

    It’s not a question of not speaking truth to power. He has made his career by cosying up to those in power in order to feather his own nest.

  • Emil says:

    Par for the course at the Telegraph, who specialise in not speaking truth to power.

  • Norbert says:

    Jaw Drop. This man is the most repetitively, compulsively, habitually, useless pompous arse I have ever met. If he were a facial spot, he wouldn’t even be worth evacuating.

    How do these people travel so-far on so-little? Is he a spiritual cousin of Tony Hall I wonder?

    Staggered….and yet why am I even surprised? Come back Rupert!

  • Patrick says:

    How is it that these suits run these arts organisations yet have never performed in their lives? And have the audacity to criticise musicians, artists, actors…then trundle off to a cushy job, in this case as an opera critic, not actually having had any experience as not a musician/singer/director/conductor!

  • Rob Keeley says:

    A nice man, with a smooth, plausible manner, but NK is the Insider’s Insider.

  • Nick Schleppend says:

    Une fois de plus!!!…

    Cherchez les hommes en costumes gris.

  • Nicholas Ennos says:

    I would not criticise him personally but opera critics in general nowadays seem to have as much credibility as fashion editors, they are just promoters for the opera houses. I recently read about a young tenor being one of the finest ever, but when I listened to him on YouTube he was singing with a high larynx.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    “The Telegraph have hired a critic who will not speak truth to power.”

    Welcome to the zeitgeist!!

  • Michael Vaar says:

    A classic case of failing upwards.
    He started off by singlehandedly wrecking Radio 3 (I’ve rarely listened to it since) and gone on from there.

  • Nick says:

    …at this vital moment in the recovery of the arts” ?!? Does Sir Kenyon live on Earth or elsewhere?!? Where does he spot the “recovery”?!