Rising star of British music becomes ENO director at age of 31

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The Independent Culture

The English National Opera has appointed Edward Gardner, a rising star of the British music scene, as its new music director at the age of just 31.

Mr Gardner, who has run Glyndebourne's touring company since 2003, will join the company as music director designate with immediate effect before taking up the demanding post at the troubled company full-time next year.

He said he was thrilled. "Alongside all the members of the company, I am committed to dedicating myself to the future artistic growth of ENO and to investing the time and presence required to shape its new future."

The young conductor replaces Oleg Caetani, who had been appointed to the job but agreed to stand down before he began after sweeping changes to the company's management and amid concerns that commitments in Australia meant he would work in the UK only part-time.

The ENO has suffered a turbulent few months after Sean Doran, the chief executive and artistic director, was ousted by the board in a move that eventually led to the resignation of Martin Smith, the board chairman.

Further outcry followed when two insiders, John Berry and Loretta Tomasi, were named as artistic and financial bosses without the posts being advertised. Caetani subsequently stood down as music director.

Opera insiders had tipped Gardner as a potential successor. The British-born conductor has already worked with many of the world's leading orchestras and opera companies, including the Paris Opera. He makes his debut in the main Glyndebourne Festival season this summer and worked with ENO on Cosi fan tutte to acclaim last year.

John Berry, the ENO's artistic director, said: "Edward's qualities as a musician and his natural rapport with both singers and creative teams make his appointment a major coup."

Ms Tomasi, the chief executive, said Mr Gardner was about the same age as Mark Elder, an acclaimed former music director of the company, when he joined. And she believed that it was important that he was British, given the company's ethos of nurturing native talent.

The ENO is still hunting for a new chairman, but Edward Gardner's appointment means that its senior artistic team was in place, Ms Tomasi said. "What we put on stage is what we're about. The most important step was to get a music director who can help us shape where the company is going artistically."

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