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The Lebrecht Weekly


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

ENO drops music director

By Norman Lebrecht / December 28, 2005

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English National Opera has decommissioned its new music director, a month before he was due to begin. As the latest in a run of departures - following chief executive Sean Doran and chairman Martin Smith - Oleg Caetani's step down was the least turbulent, inevitable as it was. At a meeting with the present leadership. Caetani agreed - amicably, to all appearances - not to take up the position but to continue to serve in future as a guest conductor.
A committee has been formed under board member Nicholas Kenyon, director of the BBC Proms, to seek a new music director. Under present turbulence, however, they may struggle to find credible names. The backstage union, Bectu, voted today by 94 percent to authorise strike action over pay demands. In Parliament, the opposition Conservative Party and several MPs on her own side have urged the Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell to call a fullscale inquiry into the company's shortcomings, or to withhold its public funding. Despite Smith's resignation, the board under acting chairman Vernon Ellis does not command widespread confidence.
Against this backdrop, Caetani's unconditional withdrawal looks like a shrewd move. Appointed by the discredited Doran, Caetani holds a parallel job as music director at the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, a commitment which would have allowed him limited time to address the deep artistic problems of Britain's second opera house and the simmering discontent among its musicians. The kudos of being music director of a major European opera house would not have outweighed the headaches of the job.

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



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