Rhinegold Photo credit: Sim Canetty Clarke

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Stuart Skelton criticises English National Opera

3:06, 15th February 2017

Stuart Skelton has spoken candidly about English National Opera (ENO) in an interview for Bachtrack.

The Australian heldentenor described CEO Cressida Pollock as ‘out of her depth’ and artistic director Daniel Kramer as ‘the wrong man for the job’.

Skelton continued to say of Kramer: ‘Not only is he not experienced but the only times he’s been in something genuinely large scale, it fell over. There’s a level at which he’s also irretrievably American and all the optimism on the planet won’t actually get you over the line if the product is poor.’

Speaking of his experience working with Kramer in Tristan and Isolde at the London Coliseum between 9 June and 9 July, he added: ‘The artistic director of the company can’t put their foot in their mouth that often and get away with it. I think it’s a shame because he’s a personable guy who totally means well, but I don’t think he has any clue long term what ENO means to its audience and that audience has been slowly but surely bleeding away.’

Skelton also criticised ENO for avoiding a great deal of American repertoire. ‘They’ve not done Carlisle Floyd or Dominick Argento or Samuel Barber. They’ve not done Vanessa, or Antony and Cleopatra. They’re happy to bring in American singers but they won’t bring in American opera. This repertoire is approachable.

‘Instead of doing that, they’ve got a new artistic director calling Janáček fringe repertoire. It’s the rep that’s built that house’s reputation! Jenůfa and Káťa Kabanová – that’s the stuff that ENO does better than the Royal Opera.’

Skelton also criticised Opera Australia (OA) for its tendency to repeat tried-and-tested repertoire and its failure to take advantage of home-grown talent. Speaking of the new production of Szymanowski’s King Roger, he suggested that the company’s approach to repertoire would ultimately cause problems.

‘They’ll go to opening night and go “Oh, that’s like Tristan but not quite” and it’s in Polish and they’ll panic. OA have only got themselves to blame at a certain level because they don’t take that repertoire to the audience. They expect the audience to come to them.’

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