Barron joins Scottish Opera exodus

Ruth Gillespie

Chief executive of Scottish Opera Christopher Barron will become the third senior management figure to leave the troubled company within 15 months when he takes up a new position with Birmingham Royal Ballet in October.

Barron has been joint chief executive of both Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet since 2000. However, the two boards were split last year after the opera’s escalating debts forced a restructuring deal on the company, making Barron’s dual position untenable. His departure, which had been widely speculated for some time, follows that of chairman Duncan McGhie, who stepped down in July 2004, and music director Richard Armstrong, who announced in December that he would leave in the summer.

William Taylor, current chairman of SO, said: “Chris has been a committed champion of Scottish Opera for the past five years, continuing to provide leadership to the company through a period of enormous change. He has helped us through that time and leaves Scottish Opera with a more assured future.”

Barron’s tenure at the company has been marred by financial turmoil, culminating in a controversial agreement with the Scottish Executive that resulted in 88 staff and chorus members being made redundant and all major opera productions being put on hold for eight months from the autumn. The chief executive’s position will now be replaced with a general director and a musical director. Meanwhile Barron will take up his new post as chief executive of BRB in October, replacing Derek Purnell, who stepped down last year to become an arts consultant.

He said: “I am delighted to be joining BRB, a company whose success I have much admired, and I very much look forward to working with David Bintley and the BRB team in its future development.

“It has been an enormous privilege to work with Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet over the years and I wish my colleagues there the very best for the future. The companies are tremendous assets to Scotland and I am proud of what the many talented individuals have achieved during my time working with them.”

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