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Opera Holland Park announces independence

1 October 2015

Opera Holland Park (OHP) has formally become an independent charity.

The change in status comes after nearly 20 years as a department of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It will continue to perform in its current venue and will maintain its founding values.

OHPOHP will receive a grant from the Royal Borough worth £5 million. Given that company’s average annual subsidy is around £450k, it will use this cash package to generate its own funds.

According to OHP’s website, the change was also prompted by individual donors: ‘We have been encouraged by a significant upsurge in pledges to our new Founders Fund, something we always believed would be the case since donors tend to have a different attitude towards funding an independent charitable entity rather than Council initiatives.’

A statement from the company reads:

‘The Royal Borough has done a remarkable thing in creating and maintaining an accessible opera company of this standard for so long, but it has to find ways to ensure our future without jeopardising other critical services. This solution was the one that suited both parties best. It is also worth noting that the management of OHP has for some time sought a solution like this because we believe it will offer us the flexibility, freedom to plan and plurality of funding that we have not been able to take advantage of within the confines of Council procedure and public funding. We will continue to have a very close relationship with the Council since we occupy their land and have certain partnerships within the sphere of Inspire.’

OHP general director Michael Volpe said: ‘Both James and I are very excited to finally be taking the company into independence after several years of working through the possibilities. Our board is extremely capable and the company itself is in good hands. As managers of the festival, we now have several degrees more flexibility and we know our patrons will be stepping up to the plate to support us. Artistically, our plans are as ambitious and as interesting as ever and our accessibility aims remain solidly in place.’

OHP announced the news on Twitter, dubbing it ‘OHP Independence Day’.

Opera Holland Park: Independence

WNO announces new music director

24 September 2015

Tomáš Hanus
Tomáš Hanus

Welsh National Opera has announced Tomáš Hanus as its new music director. The Czech conductor will take up the position in autumn 2016.

Hanus was music director of the National Theatre Brno, Janácek Opera House from 2007-2009, and regularly conducts the Bayerische Staatsoper. He has conducted at the Dresden Semperoper, Bavarian State Opera Munich, the Royal Danish Opera, the Norwegian National Opera and Teatro Real Madrid.

He made his debut with WNO this July, conducting an orchestral concert in St. David’s Cathedral as part of the Fishguard Festival. His first engagements as music director will be concerts in the autumn and spring of 2016/17; he will make his operatic debut with the company with two productions in summer 2017.

Hanus said: ‘I felt an immediate connection with WNO from the moment we first worked together. They have passion, creativity, talent and professionalism. I am looking forward to building a strong relationship both with the company and with the community and to bringing beautiful music to more and more people. It’s a great privilege for me to work with WNO and David Pountney.’

Carlo Rizzi will take up the new role of conductor laureate with immediate effect. Rizzi was music director of WNO from 1992 to 2001 and again from 2004 to 2008 (during which time he played an important part in bringing the company in to their new home at Wales Millennium Centre).

Rizzi said: ‘For me, this title recognises the achievements and advances we made together during my years as music director and also provides the basis for an on-going collaboration with the company, particularly the orchestra and chorus, which I hold in high regard. I look forward to working alongside the new music director and wish him the same joy and satisfaction that I found and continue to find at WNO.’

WNO chairman Geraint Talfan Davies said: ‘WNO is hugely fortunate in having secured the talents of Tomáš Hanus and Carlo Rizzi for the company. They will both ensure that the company’s incredibly high musical standards will be sustained. With the recent appointment of Leonora Thomson as managing director and the extension of David Pountney’s contract as artistic director, the company can face the future with great confidence.’

Welsh National Opera

San Francisco Opera announces next general director

23 September 2015

Matthew Shilvock
Matthew ShilvockCory Weaver

San Francisco Opera has announced that Matthew Shilvock will succeed David Gockley as general director. He will take up the position (initially on a five-year contract) on 1 August 2016 following Gockley's retirement.

Shilvock said that he planned to continue commissioning new operas and further exploring the potential of streaming. He also said that he looked forward to programming more intimate works in a new 299-seat theatre in the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera, which will open this winter. 

The company's associate general director since 2010, Shilvock manages and leads the opera house's departments for music operations, electronic media, education, the San Francisco Opera Center, and rehearsal. He also serves as interim director of development.

Shilvock said: 'I wish to thank the board leadership and search committee for their confidence in offering me the opportunity to be at the helm of this acclaimed international company. It is indeed a humbling invitation, but one I recognise as a great privilege and honor following the legacy of the extraordinary six directors who have led this organisation over its storied history.

'I am committed to ensuring that we remain on the forefront of artistic excellence and innovation. We will bring to this Company the very finest artists and the most compelling productions, creating holistic presentations that move, transform, empower and entertain audiences. San Francisco Opera tells the world’s most powerful stories, and those stories are as relevant today as they ever have been. '

Gockley said of his successor: 'Matthew Shilvock is not only the best choice to succeed me, he is the ideal choice. He possesses a mix of personal qualities that is rare: intelligence, sensitivity, patience, respect for others, gentlemanly demeanor, but firmness when need be. His knowledge of the company is encyclopedic. For every gap in my—and others’—capability, he has filled the hole. I congratulate the San Francisco Opera board of directors for making an inspired choice.'

Born in England, Shilvock decided to become an opera administrator while studying music at Christ Church College, Oxford. He met Gockley through Opera America's fellowship programme, and went on to work with him at the Houston Grand Opera before following him to San Francisco in 2005.

San Francisco Opera

ENO formalises Brünjes’ and Pollock’s positions

23 September 2015

Harry Brünjes
Harry Brünjes

Cressida Pollock
Cressida Pollock

English National Opera has appointed Harry Brünjes as chairman and Cressida Pollock as chief executive officer (on a fixed-term three-year contract), effective immediately.

The appointments formalise their previous positions: Brünjes has been acting chairman since 15 February and Pollock was appointed interim CEO on 24 March.

Brünjes, who has been a trustee of the ENO board since 22 September 2010, said: ‘I’m delighted to take on the role of Chairman at such an exciting, transformational time for ENO and the London Coliseum. Working together with the Board and ENO executive team, I look forward to leading a company dedicated to producing the highest quality opera which is accessible to everyone and to securing the future of our iconic building.’

In appointing Pollock to the position of CEO, ENO praised her ‘excellent progress in leading the organisation, bringing additional focus to operations and developing a new strategic business plan for the company’. She joined ENO in September 2014, leading a team from management consultancy McKinsey & Company on a pro bono basis to work on a strategic review of operations of the company.

She said: ‘As we enter this new era, I recognise that we face significant challenges – not least to reduce our reliance on public subsidy. However, I am convinced we can succeed and that, with our world-class team, we can continue to produce brilliant opera for audience members in London and around the UK.’

Joyce Wilson of Arts Council England said: ‘We are pleased that Dr Brünjes has been appointed as Chair of ENO. His experience of being on the board means he is in a very strong position to support ENO going forwards. We have built a good working relationship with both Dr Brünjes and Cressida Pollock and will continue to work closely with them and the wider executive team on the organisation’s strategic development and business plan.’

For the 2015/16 season, ENO’s artistic leadership team will comprise Mark Wigglesworth as Music Director and Terri-Jayne Griffin as Producing Director with John McMurray becoming Senior Artistic Advisor and Bob Holland taking on the role of Programming Director. Former Casting and ENO Harewood Artists Manager Sophie Joyce moves to Head of Casting.

Following artistic director John Berry’s departure in July 2015, the ENO board is undertaking a full evaluation of the company’s artistic leadership. Further announcements will be made in due course.

English National Opera

Paris Opera strike continues

7 September 2015

A message posted on the website of the Opéra de Paris confirmed that tonight's performance of Rameau's Platée will not be going ahead. The cancellation is due to a strike called by the FSU trade union.

'Message to spectators of the performance of Platée 
On Monday 7 September 2015 at 7:30 pm at the Palais Garnier As result of a strike, the performance of Platée scheduled for Monday 7 September 2015 at 7.30 pm at the Palais Garnier has been cancelled. The management of the Paris Opera wishes to apologise to spectators and to propose either a ticket exchange for another performance of the same production, or a refund.'

The opening performance of the 2015/16 season on 5 September - the debut of Robert Wilson's new production of Madama Butterfly - was also cancelled.

Opéra de Paris

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