English National Opera has named Martyn Brabbins as its new music director. Although Brabbins regularly conducts international orchestras, this is the first prestigious position he has held. It is also the first major appointment made by ENO artistic director Daniel Kramer since he took over in August.
The job became available after Mark Wigglesworth stepped down at the end of the 2015-16 season. Wigglesworth cited disagreements with ENO’s management and said that, ‘The company is evolving now into something I do not recognise.’ His resignation was one in a series of major setbacks for ENO, which stemmed from a GBP5m (€5.6m) cut in funding announced by Arts Council England at the start of 2015.
However, with Kramer and Brabbins on-board ENO’s troubles may now be over. Its 2016-17 season was praised by opera critics and opening show Don Giovanni (directed by Richard Jones) received positive reviews.
Brabbins’ career to date has seen him conduct leading orchestras like Royal Concertgebouw, Tokyo Metropolitan and Deutsche Sinfonieorchester Berlin. His previous roles include associate principal conductor of BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (1994-2005), principal guest conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic (2009-15), and chief conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic (2012-16).
His contract with ENO runs until August 2020.