What has for quite some time been considered a solid management and artistic team at The Royal Opera, appears to now be showing some extraordinary cracks. Sources have informed me that we are shortly to hear about the alleged departure of Elaine Padmore, Director of Opera. No details as yet are available as to why she is jumping ship, or to which new company she is presumably joining. All that is known, is that Wasfi Kani, founder and Chief Executive of the enterprising and respected Grange Park Opera, is allegedly being considered as a replacement for Padmore (no doubt others are also being considered as well). Rather presciently, the London Evening Standard back in 2008, when listing the thousand most influential people in London, said that Kani was: "A potential future head of ENO or The Royal Opera". Since taking on the position of Director of Opera in 2000, Padmore has helped in transforming not only the fortunes of Covent Garden, but also its reputation with the media. In conjunction with the Music Director Antonio Pappano and Chief Executive Tony Hall, this trio of senior management successfully overcame the endless negative press directed towards the opera house during the 1980s and 1990s.
Rumours are also rife that Antonio Pappano, The Royal Opera’s celebrated Music Director, is being wooed by Peter Gelb, the General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera. Clearly James Levine’s career is about to reach a conclusion and Gelb is looking for a suitable replacement. Whether he secures Pappano is another matter. Pappano's contract is due to expire in either 2013 or 2014 (according to an interview he conducted with The Times), but nothing as of yet has been released by the Royal Opera press department to confirm the exact date. Should Pappano leave at this juncture it will no doubt be a huge blow for the Royal Opera administration, and more importantly to its future artistic direction.
With the possibility of both Pappano and Padmore leaving, major questions will no doubt need to be asked as to what exactly is going wrong in Bow Street. There will also be speculation that it may spark further high profile individuals to leave. As and when I receive further updates I will make them available, although at this stage I need to stress that none of the above, as of yet, has been substantiated by The Royal Opera.
Update 21st April 2010
The latest information is that Elaine Padmore is set to retire from The Royal Opera this year, rather than move to another opera company. So not quite "trouble at the top" on this front, just on the Pappano rumours.
Update 22nd April 2010