Martyn Brabbins, ENO music director, photographed in The Coliseum, ENO’s home
“Sir, We are dismayed by Art Council England’s decision to cut its funding of English National Opera and force it to move outside London. ENO has been an integral part of the global arts industry throughout its 100-year history. Its productions have been seen in all corners of the world; the talent it has trained and developed have performed with opera houses in every continent. It sends out a stark message that the Arts Council no longer thinks an established, world-class opera house is worthy of its investment, particularly one that has always been at the forefront of innovation and listening to audiences’ needs. Everyone across the world has long looked to the United Kingdom as a centre of artistic excellence. We fear that this decision signals to the world that they — and we — must now look elsewhere.
Sir Anish Kapoor; Sir Nicholas Hytner; Sir David McVicar; Sir Antonio Pappano; Sir David Pountney; Peter Gelb – General Manager, The Metropolitan Opera, New York; Simon McBurney OBE; Matthew Shilvock – Director General, San Francisco Opera; Christopher Koelsch – General Director, LA Opera; Deborah Warner CBE; Richard Jones CBE; Oliver Mears – Director of Opera, The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Sophie de Lint – Director, Dutch National Opera; Jonathan Kent CBE; David Lan CBE; Mike Leigh OBE; Christof Loy; Alison Chitty OBE; Rory Kinnear; Sue Blane MBE, RDI; David Alden; Eric Idle; Jonathan Dove CBE; Edward Gardner OBE – Norwegian Opera Music Director Designate, Chief Conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Principal Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra; Richard Mantle – General Director, Opera North; Stephen Langridge – Artistic Director, Glyndebourne Festival Opera; Anthony Freud – General Director, President & CEO Lyric Opera of Chicago; Yuval Sharon – Artistic Director, Detroit Opera; Joan Matabosch – Artistic Director, Teatro Real, Madrid; Kasper Holten – CEO, The Royal Theater, Copenhagen; Elisabeth Linton – Opera Director, The Royal Opera, Copenhagen; Christoph Meyer – General Director, Deutsche Oper am Rhein; Fiona Allan – Chief Executive, Opera Australia; Peter de Caluwe – Artistic Director, La Monnaie De Munt, Brussels; David Devan – General Director & President, Opera Philadelphia; Bernd Loebe – Intendant, Oper Frankfurt; Geir Bergkastet – CEO, Norwegian National Opera & Ballet; Randi Stene – Operachef, Norwegian National Opera & Ballet; Per Boye Hansen – Artistic Director, Prague National and State Opera; Giorgos Koumendakis – Artistic Director, Greek National Opera; Tobias Theorell – Artistic Director, Stockholm Folkoperaen; Jean Denes – Opera Director, Theater Basel; Adrian Balmer – CEO, Luzerner Theater; Jesús Iglesias Noriega – Artistic Director, Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía; Meritxell Penas Rubio – Artistic and Production Direction, Gran Teatre del Liceu; Fergus Sheil – Artistic Director, Irish National Opera; Artūras Alenskas – Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre; Thomas de Mallet Burgess – General Director, New Zealand Opera; Ulrich Lenz – incoming Intendant, Opera Graz; Albrecht Puhlmann – Opernintendant, Nationaltheater Mannheim; Marin Blazevic – General Manager/Artistic Director, Croatian National Theatre and Opera; Martin Glaser – General Director, National Theater Brno / International Janáček Brno Festival; Alain Perroux – General Director, Opéra national du Rhin; Caroline Sonrier – General and Artistic Director, Opéra de Lille; Cornelia Preissinger – Opera Director, Oper Leipzig; Berthold Schneider – Intendant, Wuppertaler Bühnen und Sinfonieorchester; Josef E. Köpplinger – Intendant, Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz Munich; Jens-Daniel Herzog – General Manager & Opera Director, Staatstheater Nürnberg; Nicole Braunger – Opera Director, Staatstheater Karlsruhe; Georg Heckel – Intendant, Landestheater Detmold; Regine Palmai – Chefdramaturgin, Staatsoper Hannover; Dieter Kaegi – Artistic Director, Theater und Orchester Biel Solothurn (TOBS); Francesco Nardelli – General Director, Fondazione Teatro Fraschini; Julia Lagahuzère – General Director, Opera for Peace; Javier Menéndez – General Director, Teatro de la Maestranza; Dietrich Grosse – Manager, Òpera de Butxaca i Nova Creació; Jesús Iglesias Noriega – Artistic Director, Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía; Monica Fredriksson – Chief Executive Officer, Folkoperan; Ylva Kihlberg – Head of Dramaturgy, Malmö Opera; Uwe Eric Laufenberg – Artistic Director, Hessian State Theatre Wiesbaden; Lena Almung – Administrative Director, Göteborgsoperan; Erik Mikael Karlsson – CEO, Norrlandsoperan; Jan Henric Bogen – Opera Director, Genossenschaft Konzert und Theater St.Gallen; Missy Mazzoli – Opera Composer; Royce Vavrek – Opera Librettist; Karen Stone – Incoming Director, Opera Europa; Nicholas Payne – Outgoing Director, Opera Europa; Henry Little – Chief Executive, Opera Rara; Robin Norton Hale – General Director, English Touring Opera; Nicola Creed – Executive Director, Garsington Opera; Polly Graham – Artistic Director, Longborough Festival Opera; Jennifer Smith – Executive Director, Longborough Festival Opera; Anthony Negus – Music Director, Longborough Festival Opera; Joana Carneiro – Principal Guest Conductor / Artistic Director Real Filharmonia de Galicia / Estágio Gulbenkian para Orquestra“
Profoundly welcome as this letter is, signed by a large global coterie of leading artists and arts administrators, such as to cause any self-respecting civilised government department to sit up, take notice and ask questions, one’s fear is that it will have little impact on the publicly-funded Arts Council England, amongst whose Chief Executive’s books is one entitled ‘Everything you wanted to know about classical music – but were too afraid to ask’ which contains so many errors of fact, page after page, that the only reason one would hand a copy to someone ignorant of classical music is to ask them to throw it on the fire.
One doubts, however, if the current Government Minister for Culture, Media and Sport will have any grasp whatever of the profoundly civilised issues involved in this matter, as she is quite unqualified to hold the Cabinet Post to which she was appointed four months ago by ex-Prime Minster Liz Truss.