Entertainment & Arts

English National Opera director Mark Wigglesworth resigns

Conductor Mark Wigglesworth Image copyright Sim Canetty-Clarke
Image caption Mark Wigglesworth became Music Director at English National Opera in 2015

Mark Wigglesworth has resigned as musical director of the English National Opera.

In an email, he said he was leaving because the ENO was "evolving now into something I do not recognise".

The company, which has faced a period of turmoil, said he would depart at "the end of the current season".

"He will continue to honour his contractual commitments as a conductor and looks forward to continuing to work with the wonderful musicians of ENO."

Wigglesworth was announced as the company's new musical director in 2014. He said at the time he considered his appointment a "huge privilege".

He later said the company would continue to take risks and do adventurous work despite funding cuts.

In the email, which he sent to colleagues, the 51-year-old said the ENO's "plan for the future is one that the board and chief executive have always known I cannot support".

"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 said.

"I believe in efficiencies that increase our value for money and do not lose the opportunity of performing the highest quality opera to the largest number of people."

Wigglesworth has been a regular at the Proms since 1991, conducting works by composers including Olivier Messiaen and Richard Wagner.

ENO troubles

His departure comes after a series of troubles at the English National Opera.

In February last year, the Arts Council of England cut the ENO's core funding to the company by £5m as it dropped the company from its national portfolio of organisations for 2015-18.

Two months later, the ENO announced it was cutting ticket prices in an attempt to secure its financial future.

Earlier this year, the company asked members of the chorus to move from a 12-month to a nine-month contract.

The proposal led to the ENO chorus voting to strike over the changes, which they said amounted to a cut in pay.

The chorus said it would not appear in part of a performance of Akhnaten at the London Coliseum as part of the strike action.

The ENO argued at the time that it risked bankruptcy if the proposed changes were not implemented.

The pay dispute was later resolved and the strike action called off.

More on this story