Artistic head of troubled English National Opera steps down

Fri Jul 10, 2015 7:36am EDT
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - The financially troubled English National Opera announced on Friday that its artistic director, John Berry, is stepping down after eight years in the job and 20 years with the ENO.

Berry's departure comes after two of the company's top managers resigned at the end of last year and earlier this year.

One of the managers, the ENO's former chairman, Martyn Rose, said in a leaked letter that the company had lost 10 million pounds ($15.52 million) under Berry's tenure.

Berry has refused to comment on the matter and the ENO said it did not recognize the figure and was expecting a balanced budget this year.

Shortly afterwards, Arts Council England took the unusual step of removing the ENO from the list of organizations that receive regular grants and instead offered "special funding arrangements" until it got its house in order.

In a statement released by the ENO, Berry said he was proud of his artistic achievements at the company, noting that recent productions of "Sweeney Todd" and a "Pirates of Penzance" directed by filmmaker Mike Leigh had packed the house and brought in people who had never been to the opera before.

He also won ecstatic reviews for a production of Wagner's "The Mastersingers of Nuremberg", the German opera in an English translation, earlier this season.

"After eight seasons leading the company artistically and as the award winning 14/15 season comes to a close, I am looking forward to spending the summer deciding on my next role. I look forward to remaining involved with ENO in the future, as an audience member and supporter," Berry said.   Continued...