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Royal Opera's contemporary arm to close

20 August 2012, London, UK

London's Royal Opera House
London's Royal Opera House

London’s Royal Opera House has announced that it is closing its contemporary and commissioning arm, ROH2, which has developed new programming strands for the ROH’s black-box Linbury Theatre, the Clore Studio and the Paul Hamlyn Hall.

The decision has been precipitated by the departure of Deborah Bull, ROH2’s creative director and Alison Duthie, its head of programming, both of whom are now working with King’s Cultural Partners at King’s College, London. The move has also resulted in two redundancies from ROH2’s eight-strong team, including head of development, John Lloyd-Davies.

ROH2 has struggled to find an artistic identity of its own since it was established in 2001. Although it has developed small-scale, experimental work through partnerships with organisations such as the Genesis Foundation, it has tended to act as a receiving house for the UK’s leading contemporary opera touring companies such as Music Theatre Wales and the Opera Group.

With the appointment of a new, artistically experienced management team at the Royal Opera and Ballet, it was felt that ROH2’s remit should be integrated into programming and development at the Royal Opera House itself.

The ROH’s new director of opera, Kasper Holten (formerly boss of the Royal Danish Opera), will lead the team responsible for commissioning and developing opera and music in the alternative spaces, working with John Fulljames (former director of the Opera Group).  Ballet and dance will be overseen by the new director of ballet, Kevin O’Hare.

In spite of a 15 per cent cut in its annual grant, the ROH has insisted that the decision to axe ROH2 is not financially motivated.  The company issued a statement saying, ‘The reorganisation does not effect Royal Opera House’s commitment to commissioning innovative and challenging new work and collaborating with other creative organisations.’


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