English National Opera Music Director Resigns

By Francisco Salazar

English National Opera Music Director Martyn Brabbins has resigned to protest proposed cuts.

In a statement, the conductor said, “As Music Director of English National Opera for the past seven years, and Head of its orchestra, chorus, and music staff, I cannot in all conscience continue to support the Board and Management’s strategy for the future of the company. While my feelings on this have been developing for some time, it reached its nadir this week, with the internal announcement of severe cuts to its orchestra and chorus from 2024/25 season. In protest, this afternoon I tendered my resignation with immediate effect.”

He added, “Although making cuts has been necessitated by Arts Council England’s interference in the company’s future, the proposed changes would drive a coach and horses through the artistic integrity of the whole of ENO as a performing company, while also singularly failing to protect our musicians’ livelihoods. This is a plan of managed decline, rather than an attempt to rebuild the company and maintain the world-class artistic output, for which ENO is rightly famed. I urge ACE to reassess this situation and recognise the devastating implications their funding decisions will have on the lives of individual musicians, as well the reputation of the UK on the international stage.”

The conductor concluded, “My wholehearted thanks and support go out to the entire ENO team, especially those in the departments I oversaw. I am incredibly proud of everything we accomplished, and I sincerely hope that the company will find a path that puts exceptional artistry front and centre of its future.”

The news comes only a few days after the ENO announced it would cut 19 musical staff positions and put the remaining staff on part-time contracts. It comes as the company’s funds from the ACE were cut and the ENO is looking for a new home outside of London.