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The Lebrecht Weekly


Visit every week to read Norman Lebrecht's latest column. [Index]

Fresh turmoil at ENO

By Norman Lebrecht / November 29, 2005

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One of the most bizarre appointments in British arts ended today in utter ignominy as English National Opera parted company from Sean Doran, its chief executive and artistic director. Doran, 45, an Irishman recruited two years ago from the Perth Festival in Australia, had never run an opera company before and failed to inspire confidence in senior colleagues, who departed serially.

His inexperience was flagrantly exposed as big operas were slotted in with small, causing chaos in the schedules and disgruntlement in the orchestra. His choice as chief conductor, Oleg Caetani, a routinier from Melbourne, raised few flutters of acknowledgement. Like Doran, Caetani has never held a senior post and insiders suggest his contract may now be revoked.

Doran begged to be judged on his first full season, which would have begun in September 2006 with a new piece about Libyaâs Colonel Gaddafi. But bad numbers at the box-office and the self-indulgence of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant - a noisy opera by Gerald Barry commissioned by the Irish Arts Council and unable to find a stage elsewhere - snapped the boardâs patience. Even a sold-out Madam Butterfly, directed by Anthony Minghella, could not save Doran as the Coliseum atmosphere curdled and the companyâs financial stability was again called into question.

The ENO chairman, Martin Smith, who backed Doran until recently, will be under pressure to take responsibility for his failures. ENO, meanwhile, staggers into an uncertain future, having wasted two years on a shocking misjudgement.

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[Bitter tears over operatic blunder]

Visit every week to read Norman Lebrecht's latest column. [Index]



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