Royal Opera names chief

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The Independent Online
THE ROYAL Opera House has announced the appointment of a new executive director, putting in place half of the team it hoped would replace the present chief executive.

Michael Kaiser, the current executive director of the American Ballet Theatre, will fill one of the shoes vacated by temporary chief executive Pelham Allen.

The second half of the team has yet to be found after the job was turned down by Sarah Billinghurst, now second in command at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

She is reported to have refused the offer to share the top slot as artistic director at the Opera House with Mr Kaiser because she wanted overall control.

Mr Kaiser starts at Covent Garden on 12 November in the midst of talks with unions that could affect the reopening of the venue after its pounds 213m development. Sir Colin Southgate, chairman of the ROH board, said: "I am very pleased to be announcing Michael Kaiser's appointment now, at the beginning of the programme of change ... Michael joins us in the full knowledge of our current union negotiations and the uncertain future of the Royal Opera House.

"At American Ballet Theatre and in the other organisations where he has served as director, Mr Kaiser's record includes the elimination of accumulated deficits, increases in box-office and fund-raising revenue, and the expansion of education and outreach programmes."

Mr Kaiser will be stepping into a post which has changed hands a number of times in recent years. Jeremy Isaacs, Genista McIntosh and Mary Allen have all taken on and subsequently given up the position of chief executive over the past two years.