When a music director owns the production

When a music director owns the production


norman lebrecht

October 02, 2022

The Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires has appointed the British conductor Jan-Latham Koenig as its music director from January 2023.

This past week, the Colon staged performances of Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins and Bluebeard’s Castle in a production by the Koenig Ensemble Limited.

The UK-based company is chaired by the conductor, who is also the main shareholder.

On August 10, 2022, well ahead of the production, the Teatro Colón paid Koenig Ensemble Limited the sum of US$195,000 to a bank account in Hampstead.

Is that strictly regular? Not in Argentina, where few get paid on time.

Our documentation was gathered by dissident members of the Teatro Colon.


  • Octavio José says:

    This was a double-bill production of two short chamber operas (because they are that, with the only exception of the orchestra’s size). An entirely local production would have reached the same quality levels or even higher – since we didn’t have Rattle conducting, Sellars staging, and Pape and Denoke singing.

    Even so, let’s accept a few solid foreign artists in the leading sections of the production, just for variety’s sake – so okey with a conductor, a director, the singing Anna, and Bluebeard. That would be four people.

    We got 16 instead – and none of them is a star: Latham-Koenig (conductor), Hunter (director), Wyer (designer), Dunn (video), Knowles (lights), Yee (choreographer), Storm (conductor’s assistant), Allardyce (director’s assistant), Wake-Edwards (singing Anna), Gilbert (Brother 1), Zhuravskii (Brother 2), Sedgwick (Brother 3), Malaba (Mother), Rudd (dancing Anna), Szemerédy (Bluebeard) and Shaham (Judit).

    Not even for Wagner’s Meistersinger under Reiner, Klemperer, Busch, Kleiber and Leitner the Colón imported such amount of artists for a production… and those were the golden years in which the house, the city and the country were rich!

    Here even the smallest comprimario and the dancing Anna were from abroad, bought in the same closed “package” sold by the house’s new music director to the house itself! Everyone was paid in full with dollars, plus international plane tickets and de luxe hotel accommodation… with no need whatsoever, through an agency chaired by the conductor of the production and music director of the house… everything paid in advance – and in a country where half of the population is poor and Argentine artists have gone through two years of pandemics, unemployed by their own (entirely public funded) house.

    Please, show a minimum of decency. Shame on you!

  • Marta Lupi says:

    Vergogna! Questa é una cosa inaccettabile.

  • Achim Mentzel says:

    Nothing really surprising. In the Hollywood business, this kind of thing has worked since the glory days of Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. Director, producer and leading role combined in one person.

    • Octavio José says:

      No, not in a public institution, certainly not in a State-funded and Government-run opera house.

    • trumpetherald says:

      Wrong.Welles was the exception.and he sold most of his rights on Citizen Kane to RKO,who distributed,and edited the film.The studio system persisted well into the late 50s and early 60s.people like Welles,Chaplin,Hitchcock,and later Preminger and Wyler were the exception of the rule.And even they didn´t have the right of the final cut.

  • Nuno says:

    Once upon a time, in an orchestra a long long time ago, this was Koenig’s standard practice. Orchestra players, choir singers, soloists…Some (nasty) people even sugested that he should also bring the audiences from England, to achieve perfection. Once a colonialist, always a colonialist

  • Mario Lutz says:

    ” dissident” members of the Teatro Colon?
    Why not call them partisans….
    in spanish we can brand with “me dejaron afuera”
    (“they left me out”)
    Mario Lutz

    • George Mintwood says:

      I don’t see your point: facts are facts, and as far as I can see they are backed up by official documentation.

      By the way, since you talk about people being “left out”: are you happily “in”, Mr. Lutz?

    • Mark Melhorn says:

      The information is clear and forceful. Outside or inside what are they? Many cases of corruption are heard in Argentina. I’m not surprised.

  • Player says:

    You gotta hand it to Jan! Nice work…

  • Peter Cantropus says:

    Did the man who sweeps the floor after the concert came from England too? Who wants to pay a local to sweep when you can pay for the best!