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John Berry, artistic director for English National Opera, will leave after a 20-year stint at the company.
He commented: “My work is now done and ENO is today regarded as one of the most creative forces in opera.The decision feels right to leave at the end of a hugely successful season both from an artistic perspective and in terms of audience numbers.”
Recent successes for ENO have included a production of Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson, as well as Mike Leigh’s acclaimed production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance.
Berry’s tenure has been a controversial one, with ENO experiencing much-publicised financial troubles in recent years. In February 2015 Arts Council England changed the way they provided funding to the company because of “serious concerns about their governance and business model”.
The loss of Martyn Rose as chairman, also in February, was another blow to the company, as Rose claimed that Berry had been responsible for financial losses of up to £10m.
Despite the concerns and controversy, critical acclaim has followed much of the company’s output, with lauded productions like Wagner’s The Mastersingers of Nuremberg winning audiences over.
Chief Executive of Arts Council England Darren Henley praised Berry’s contribution to opera in the UK:
“John Berry’s track record for innovative and challenging work is well established and warmly welcomed across the global opera fraternity. Throughout his time at ENO he has demonstrated a strong commitment to keeping opera at the cutting edge of cultural production in the UK. We wish him all the best for the future.
Acting chairman Harry Brunjes added: “John Berry’s contribution to ENO over the past two decades has been phenomenal. Under his leadership, the artistic programme at ENO has been unrivalled in its quality, ability to entertain and to innovate.”
“He has helped build ENO a UK-wide and international reputation for excellent dramatic opera that makes us unique - introducing directors from other art forms to the world of opera.”