English National Opera’s Artistic Director John Berry is to step down and leave the leading opera company after 20 years.
Berry, who joined the London Coliseum-based company in 1995 as Casting Director, has been Artistic Director for a decade. He has presided over a period in which ENO has won 10 Olivier Awards for its work, including both Best New Opera Production and Outstanding Achievement in Opera at this year’s awards.
Speaking about his decision, Berry said: “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. ENO is an institution that has an international reputation for producing important new work, recognised by opera awards won at the Oliviers earlier this year and the recent Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award for Opera and Music Theatre. We played to packed houses for Sweeney Todd – over half the audience had never visited the London Coliseum before – and we welcomed record numbers to see The Pirates Of Penzance on stage and in cinemas across the UK.
“After eight seasons leading the company artistically and as the award-winning 14/15 season comes to a close, I am looking forward to spending the summer deciding on my next role. I look forward to remaining involved with ENO in the future, as an audience member and supporter.”
Berry’s decision follows swiftly on the heels of Edward Gardner conducting his final opera as Music Director of ENO. Gardner took the baton for the final time at the last performance of The Queen Of Spades after conducting 37 productions during eight and a half seasons. He goes on to become Chief Conductor of Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra.
Following the fat lady singing for Berry, ENO’s artistic planning will be carried out by the team he leaves behind in conjunction with the board’s Artistic Committee. The 2015/16 season has already been programmed and includes productions of The Barber Of Seville, La Bohème, The Mikado and The Magic Flute.
There are also unconfirmed reports in today’s news that the Coliseum may play host to a starry revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard that could bring Glenn Close back to the West End.