Mark Wigglesworth has been appointed to succeed Edward Gardner as music director of English National Opera from September 2015.
Gardner is to leave after the 2014-15 season to take up the post of chief conductor at the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, an appointment which was announced in February 2013 ‒ although at the time it was said that he would be continuing in his role at ENO.
Gardner has been Bergen’s principal guest conductor since August and will be succeeding US conductor Andrew Litton in the top job as the orchestra prepares for its 250th anniversary.
Wigglesworth has worked regularly with ENO on productions including Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (2001), Così fan tutte (2002 and 2003) Falstaff (2004), Katya Kabanova (2010), and Parsifal (2011). He has also worked with Glyndebourne, Welsh National Opera, Netherlands Opera, Brussels’ La Monnaie, Sydney Opera House, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
Wigglesworth said of his appointment: ‘I have worked at ENO often enough to know that talent and experience, professionalism and passion run through the entire company: the orchestra, the chorus, the technical team, and the whole administration. To be part of this family of experts will be inspiring and fulfilling in equal measure.’
John Berry, artistic director of ENO, said: ‘I know Mark will make his presence felt and will support our mission to make ENO one of the most theatrically dynamic and musically exciting opera houses in the world.
‘Mark is one of the most outstanding conductors of his generation and I’m thrilled to be working with him. His appointment highlights ENO’s current standing in the international opera world and our ability to attract the very best talent from across the arts and the wider creative industries.’
Edward Gardner said: ‘At ENO I’ve been surrounded by brilliant people creating some of the best opera productions in the world and I will never forget nine seasons of working with such an outstanding orchestra, chorus and music team. Certainly, the next 18 months are looking as exciting and challenging as ever.
‘Beyond that, I’m eager to take the opportunity to explore new musical relationships, but I look forward to returning to conduct at ENO in 2016.’
ENO is yet to announce a successor to chief executive Loretta Tomasi, who left at the end of 2013. Finance director Andrew Gambrell is currently acting as interim executive director.
Writing in the Telegraph, critic Rupert Christiansen said Wigglesworth’s appointment ‘will raise eyebrows … he has been dogged by accusations that he is explosively difficult to work with … Can he steer his way calmly and diplomatically through the choppy waters that ENO will inevitably face in the coming years, as the flow of subsidy continues to decline?’