John Berry to step down as artistic director of ENO

John Berry is to step down as artistic director of English National Opera.
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John Berry is to step down as artistic director of English National Opera after 20 years with the company.

The announcement marks the latest in a series of departures for the company which include chairman Martyn Rose and chief executive Henriette Gotz, who both left the company earlier this year within the same week.

Berry joined ENO in 1995 as casting director, before taking the role of director of opera planning. He became artistic director in 2005.

Announcing his decision, Berry said: “My work is now done and ENO is today regarded as one of the most creative forces in opera. The decision feels right to leave at the end of a hugely successful season both from an artistic perspective and in terms of audience numbers.

“After eight seasons leading the company artistically and as the award-winning 2014/15 season comes to a close, I am looking forward to spending the summer deciding on my next role. I look forward to remaining involved with ENO in the future, as an audience member and supporter.”

Notable productions of recent years include A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2011, Benvenuto Cellini – Terry Gilliam’s first opera production – and Sweeney Todd starring Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel.

The production of Sondheim’s musical was the first as part of a partnership between ENO and commercial producers Michael Grade and Michael Linnit, launched in 2014.

Responding to Berry’s departure, acting chairman Harry Brunjes said: “John Berry’s contribution to ENO over the past two decades has been phenomenal. Under his leadership, the artistic programme at ENO has been unrivalled in its quality, ability to entertain and to innovate… We have been fortunate to have John’s insight and capability driving productions which have thrilled our audiences over the last ten years.”

Earlier this year Arts Council England removed ENO from its national portfolio citing “serious” financial concerns. The company now works under a two-year “special funding arrangement” with the funding body.

ACE chief executive Darren Henley described Berry’s work as “innovative and challenging”, adding: “Throughout his time at ENO he has demonstrated a strong commitment to keeping opera at the cutting edge of cultural production in the UK.”

“We’ll continue to work closely with ENO as they develop their business model and plans to bring excellent and exciting work to broader audiences,” he added.