Things have gone from bad to awful at English National Opera (ENO) as respected music director Mark Wigglesworth has resigned. The unexpected announcement came just days after ENO’s chorus called off its proposed strike action, with the company in continuing financial strife after Arts Council England (ACE) cut its funding.
In an email sent to colleagues Wigglesworth said ENO was, ‘evolving into something I do not recognise, and as hard as I have tried to argue to maintain what I believe to be the fundamental pillars of our identity, I have failed to persuade others of this necessity.’ He has declined to comment further at this time.
Wigglesworth will complete the 2015-15 season and return as a guest conductor for 2016-17. He joined ENO as music director in 2014, and said at the time that it was, ‘a huge privilege.’
In a statement ENO said that Wigglesworth quit, ‘despite the best efforts of the board and senior management to persuade him to remain. We are disappointed that he will not be staying to lead the artistic forces through this particularly challenging period.’
ACE cut ENO’s funding to GBP5m (€6.3m) in February 2015 and dropped it from its national portfolio of organisations for 2015-18. In response, ENO tried to cut chorus salaries by 25 percent, switching to a nine-month contract. However, the chorus then threatened to strike. The dispute has since been resolved and it is currently unclear how ENO will make its required spending cuts.