Former Royal Opera chief to run top US arts venue

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Michael Kaiser, the executive director of the Royal Opera House, who announced last month that he was stepping down, has been appointed president of the John F Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington DC.

Michael Kaiser, the executive director of the Royal Opera House, who announced last month that he was stepping down, has been appointed president of the John F Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington DC.

Mr Kaiser, an American, joined the ROH in 1998, butis said to have become disillusioned with the critical press coverage of the institution. He will take up his new post in February.

The ROH's director of marketing, press and publications Richard Shaw, is also leaving his job, after less than a year in post. A ROH spokesman said he would continue to do some work for the House on a free-lance basis. His place will be taken by Christopher Millard, who has worked at Glyndebourne and the National Theatre as well as the ROH. A new director of marketing will be appointed shortly.

The ROH chairman, Sir Colin Southgate, said last night: "Michael [Kaiser] leaves the Royal Opera House early in the new year. We always knew that once he had decided to leave the Royal Opera House someone with his outstanding abilities would be swiftly snapped up by another organisation. Looking to the future, a subcommittee of the board has been appointed to nominate the new executive director. It consists of myself, Dame Vivien Duffield DBE, Lord Eatwell and Peter Hemmings...

"Contrary to speculation in the press I have no ambitions to become the executive director of the Royal Opera House."

During his time as executive director, Mr Kaiser, who oversaw the reopening of the opera house, had to contend with criticism when prices in the most popular parts of the House were put up, despite promises to bring them down, and a series of technical problems that led to the cancellation of performances.

However, the House has recently enjoyed a run of well received performances culminating in a rapturous reception for a gala performance featuring Placido Domingo earlier this month.

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