Exclusive: Wheel comes off English National Opera

Exclusive: Wheel comes off English National Opera


norman lebrecht

March 20, 2023

ENO has just lost its vastly experienced Technical Director, Geoff Wheel.

Geoff, who left on Friday, acquired his skills as Head of Technical Departments at Royal Opera House before setting up opera houses in Muscat and Dubai. He joined ENO in 2021 and has kept the show running against very heavy odds and internal conflict.

Here’s CEO Stuart Murphy’s internal announcement:

Hi everyone,
I’m very sorry to say that Technical Director, Geoff Wheel, has decided to leave the ENO. Geoff has been absolutely brilliant in this role and will be sorely missed. He joined the ENO in lockdown, and immediately brought his infectious enthusiasm, massive energy and huge knowledge of the industry developed over the past 40 years from places including the Royal Opera House, Oman Opera and Dubai Opera, among many others. He is well loved in the industry and here, and has been a very highly regarded member of the Management Team and company.
Today is his last official day but with necessary handovers happening in the upcoming weeks. We hope to work with him again in the future, as his unrivalled knowledge, can-do attitude and ridiculously big contacts book are rare things.
We will announce the new structure next week. In the meantime, please join me in thanking him for everything he has done here.


  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Don’t people in that position have to give three months notice?


    The loss of really first rate Technical Directors is always a major blow for big opera houses. I think of, over the decades, Paul Eberhardt at Bayreuth. Joe Clark at The Met. Drew Landmesser wherever he worked.

    It takes a long time to recover from the departure of these integral and hugely gifted colleagues.

  • Hector says:

    Why is Stuart Murphy still the face of ENO when it was already announced months ago that he would be leaving? Murphy’s law perhaps? Geoff Wheel’s sudden departure shows the extent of the rot that continues at ENO and for which its Chair and Board must take full responsibility. Geoff was an absolute rock at the ROH and in Dubai. ENO are crazy to lose him.

  • GG says:

    Super interesting to have proof that Stuart M can’t even manage decent English (eg Wheel being “infectious” during lockdown, “here” – ie ENO – not being part of “the industry” and so on). No sub would let that sort of thing through.

    How do these people write job applications and get appointed? Compare the terribly nice head of music at the BBC…

    • Constantly says:

      The strongest bully always wins. How long until ACE opens the HR records to reveal how many cases of bullying and NDA’s Stuart Murphy and Harry Brunjes have signed to silence abused staff. A publicly funded charity, no less.

  • Guests says:

    Post Matt Noddings jumping ship, post Terri-Jayne Griffin jumping ship, post, post post …. sink the battleship already. It’s over. Congrats Dr Brunjes and this Murphy idiot on a job terribly done.

  • Singer (anonymous or I'll get sacked) says:

    Having had the misfortune to work under Murphy, it doesn’t surprise me that yet more valuable, knowledgeable and experienced names are refusing to work with him. His incompetence and lack of understanding is off the scale, and he simply doesn’t care who he tramples on in his quest for self-glorification, to be the ‘saviour’ of ‘the’ ENO (eeurgh). The culture of bullying in the organisation is extraordinary (camouflaged as fluttering eyelids ‘scattiness’ from Miskimmon and ‘best mates’ from Holland). ENO is an essential company, but it is difficult to support it with these people at the helm.

    • ExStaff says:

      Thank you for this brave comment. As a recent former staff member, I can only thank you for articulating your experience. I was savagely bullied by Miskimmon, Murphy and Bob Holland until I left “of my own free will” – and ghost lit for trying to address their shared bullying, at every turn. I was the problem, not them. How the ACE can allow these people to persist is an injustice. And yet no one listens inside: Murphy has HR under his daily threat, the Board are blind and deaf, and the rest of the staff, scared for their jobs.

      • Raise a concern says:

        “Anyone may raise a concern about an organisation that has applied to or has received funding from us, and even for organisations who have not.

        As a custodian of public money, we will always take such concerns very seriously, and we have processes to ensure they are investigated within our powers. ”

        Can you imagine this being brought up during ongoing ‘discussions’?

        Arts Council website forward slash