Captain Moonlight: Shaun Woodward

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The Independent Online
MY TELEPHONE rings, as it will. At the other end, in a state of some excitement, is my operatic correspondent, Ernie Aria. Ernie is not happy with the state of things at the English National Opera, which has just announced a pounds 40m restoration scheme for its home, the Coliseum. Ernie thinks this far too grand, and harks back, at some length, to earlier, more relaxed, woolly-jumpered days at the ENO. He is particularly unhappy with the 'oily Tory' masterminding the fundraising. This turns out to be Shaun Woodward, the former director of communications at Conservative Central Office. Mr Woodward, a man fortunate enough both to have edited That's Life and married a Sainsbury, received coolish notices at Central Office. Ernie was taken neither by the timing of the appeal - lolloping behind Glyndebourne and Covent Garden - nor the manner of its launch, 'Lots of lights and Rosalind Plowright coming on with a snatch of Tosca for the benefit of 34 hacks. Well.' Sitting silently throughout was Sian Edwards, the 35-year-old music director, who was not originally billed to attend. Ernie says last season, her first, was not a success, that she does not get on with Dennis Marks, the forceful general director, and that she will soon be gone. After a lot more in the same vein, I replace the receiver and retune to Classic FM, shaking my head in wonder.