The on-going controversy surrounding outgoing Chairman Martin Smith, is somewhat reminiscent of the parting of the ways between Vivian Duffield and the Royal Opera House. Both Smith and Duffield were highly involved in the restoration of their chosen venue, giving much of their own money and raising much more. Their efforts were highly successful but neither Smith nor Duffield seems to have been able to develop a working relationship with their company once the restoration was over. It just shows that we have a lot to learn about projects involving lots of private money, the Americans seem to do this sort of thing in rather a more satisfactory way.
There is a rather worrying interview with John Berry, ENO's new artistic director. Nothing in his plans for 2006/07 is worrying per se, but there is nothing about any committment to English opera following on from their performances of Vaughan Williams's Sir John in Love. Let us hope that the many other deserving English operas do not get swept aside again. After all 2008 will be the 50th anniversary of RVW's death.
It is heartening to read that the Conservative Party chairman, Lord Laidlaw, is giving ENO 2 million pounds, for specific productios. These were not specified, but Laidlaw has already sponsored the new Madama Butterfly and La Belle Helene.
On a more worrying note, a school teacher in Colorado has been chided (chidden?) for playing extracts from Faust to primary school children as the subject matter was considered Satanic.
Back to England, I note that Grange Park Opera has appointed a chorus master (Nicholas Jenkins). The chorus standards have sometimes seemed in need of polishing (talent and enthusiasm have never been lacking), so I look forward to hearing the results of Jenkins's efforts in Thais and L'Elisir d'Amore.
Another link with the past has gone, Eric Shilling died in February aged 85. I remember seeing him in such things as Orpheus in the Underworld and Iolanthe. It was intersting to read in the obituary that he was a conscientious objector during the War, was a Quaker and a keen supporter of War on Want and Amnesty.