David Lister: Director's troubles are partly self-inflicted

Share
Related Topics

For the artistic director of the English National Opera to lament the state of opera in London is a bit like the head of British Airways criticising the state of baggage handling at Terminal 5. If it isn't your fault, whose fault is it exactly?

There are just two dedicated opera houses in London, the Royal Opera House and the Coliseum, the latter being home to the ENO, of which Mr Berry is artistic director. Whatever the failings of London opera, Mr Berry must take precisely 50 per cent of the blame.

Yesterday he preferred to point the finger the media, saying that its unforgiving stance to new work and new approaches in opera puts off film directors from taking on opera productions. It's hard to know where to start with such a breathtaking distortion of the ENO's recent troubles.

For a start, Mr Berry's ENO seems to have tried to avoid staging opera, conservative or otherwise. For a long period last year, there were more performances of musicals (On The Town and the horrifically ill-judged Kismet, a musical comedy set in Baghdad) than there were of operas.

Second, if the ENO has been successful in one area recently, it is with film directors, such as Anthony Minghella's sumptuous Madam Butterfly and Sally Potter's challenging, multi-media Carmen. Just how many film directors does he want? And when he says that not just film directors but "directors in the arts" avoid opera, have the names Peter Hall, Trevor Nunn, Nicholas Hytner, Deborah Warner and Adrian Noble slipped his mind?

Besides, it is a false equation to say that radicalism equals film directors. There are outstanding and innovative opera directors around, such as David McVicar and Richard Jones. And if Mr Berry reads up on the glory days of his own institution, the ENO, in the 1980s, he will find that "the powerhouse", as it was known, achieved success through a confident and clearly defined approach, mounting daring, radical and popular productions which reinterpreted classic opera, staging new works, and bringing in a new audience.

No one thought then that opera in London was conservative.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The law is too hard on sexting teenagers

Memphis Barker
 

Obama must speak out – Americans are worried no one is listening to them

David Usborne
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?

Some couples are allowed emergency hospital weddings, others are denied the right. Kate Hilpern reports on the growing case for a compassionate cutting of the red tape
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit