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Last Updated: Monday, 7 April, 2003, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK
Director begins ENO challenge
The English National Opera was given a 4.2m grant to survive
The new artistic director installed at the beleaguered English National Opera (ENO) started his job on Monday at a testing time for the organisation.

Sean Doran joins the ENO from the Perth International Arts Festival where he was director for four years.

There he transformed the fortunes of the Australian festival as it expanded and attracted new audiences.

But he faces a tough test at the ENO, which has lurched from one financial crisis to another in recent years.

The government-backed Arts Council of England recently bailed it out with a 4.2m grant which saved it from "extinction".

But the handout, and any future money from the Arts Council, was on the proviso that the organisation underwent radical change that would deliver value for money.

Part of the ENO's cost-cutting measures under chairman Martin Smith was to announce a round of redundancies that included a number of choir members.

But the choristers were not going to see their numbers cut by as much as many as 20 out of its 60 members without a fight.

The choir staged a walkout, forcing the cancellation of one performance of The Trojans - The Capture of Troy.

Critical reviews

A management rethink saved 10 of the positions but 10 choristers will still be lost.

The resignation of general director Nicholas Payne in July 2002 was also seen as a low point for the ENO, although opera fans had been critical of a number of his performances.

Several experimental productions, including Mozart's Don Giovanni and Verdi's A Masked Ball, were met with incredulous reviews and poor ticket sales.

Mr Doran comes into the team to lead a new management structure, working alongside music director Paul Daniel and executive director Caroline Felton.

Speaking of his appointment, Mr Doran said: "For many of us in the arts, worldwide, ENO has always stood as one of the very finest arts companies of our time.

"The ENO values of quality, innovation and accessibility I admire and share."

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22 Feb 02  |  Entertainment

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