English National Opera's big guns sing out against planned budget cuts

Among the signatories are opera directors, conductors, musicians and singers

Grandees from the world of classical music have called on the board of the beleaguered English National Opera to reconsider plans to cut the number of permanent musicians and reduce performances.

Close to 2,500 performers and directors have signed a petition posted over the weekend that calls on the board of the ENO to rethink its plans to overhaul the company, which has been hit by funding cuts and departures at the top.

Among the signatories are opera directors, conductors, musicians and singers. Soprano Susan Bullock feared the heart of the company could be “ripped out” by the proposed plans and added: “Wake up ENO Board before it is too late and fight for the company you are supposed to represent.”

Opera director Sir David McVicar said London needed more than one full-time opera house to go alongside the Royal Opera House, and added that he wanted to “plead” with the board not to make its artists part time.

Conductor Nicholas Braithwaite, opera director Sir Peter Jonas and mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly also signed the petition and left comments. 

It follows letters written by luminaries including the Royal Opera House’s director of music, Sir Antonio Pappano, who warned the plans “threaten to destroy ENO”.

A press conference was being held on 8 February by the ENO chorus, which is unhappy over management plans to cut pay and reduce its strength from 44 members to 40.  

An English National Opera  spokesman said: “ENO is committed to preserving a permanent chorus. However, in order to move towards a more sustainable business model it is inevitable that cost savings will have to be made throughout the organisation.”