Main content

David Pountney

Sue Lawley's castaway is opera director David Pountney.

Sue Lawley's castaway this week is the opera producer David Pountney. Alongside Mark Elder and Peter Jonas at the ENO, he tried to make opera more attractive to a wider audience. The opera stage, he says, shouldn't be treated like a mantle shelf filled with fragile objects. It's a versatile and robust art form which needn't be stuck in the past. So he staged Carmen in an automobile graveyard, with a pink Cadillac and a giant billboard, while his Hansel and Gretel was set in a 1950s housing project.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: String Quartet No 2 'Intimate Letters' by Leos Janáček
Book: Anthology: The English Year by Geoffrey Grigson
Luxury: Croquet lawn

Available now

40 minutes

Last on

Fri 27 Feb 1998 09:05

Music Played

  • Dmitry Shostakovich

    Ophelia's Ditty (from Hamlet)

    Soloist: Louise Winter Orchestra: The City of Birmingham Orchestra Conductor: Mark Elder

    • Hamlet King Lear.
    • Cala.
  • Thomas Tallis

    O nata lux de lumine

    Choir: Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge Conductor: George Guest

    • Die Englische Motette im ‘Goldenen Zeitalter’.
    • Musica Sacra.
  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo

    Izithembiso Zenkosi

    • Ulwandle Oluncgwele.
    • Shanachie.
  • Castaway's Favourite

    • Leos Janáček

      String Quartet No. 2 'Intimate Letters'

      Orchestra: Smetana Quartet

      • The Smetana Quartet plays Dvorak & Janacek.
      • Testament.
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams

    Bredon Hill from On Wenlock Edge

    Soloist: Ian Partridge Orchestra: The Music Group of London

    • Works by Warlock & Vaughan Williams.
    • EMI.
  • Ludwig Koch

    Hunting Dogs

    • Hunting by Ear.
    • Parlophone.
  • Hector Berlioz

    Villanelle (from Les nuits d'été)

    Soloist: Regine Crespin Orchestra: Orchestre de la Suisse Romande Conductor: Ernest Ansermet

    • Works by Berlioz, Ravel, Debussy & Poulenc.
    • Decca.
  • Adam F


    • Adam F - Circles.
    • EMI.
  • Book Choice

    • Anthology: The English Year - Geoffrey Grigson

  • Luxury Choice

    • Croquet lawn


Role Contributor
Presenter Sue Lawley
Interviewed Guest David Pountney


  • Sun 22 Feb 1998 12:15
  • Fri 27 Feb 1998 09:05

Featured in...

Eight Desert Island Discs to make you feel hopeful

Eight Desert Island Discs to make you feel hopeful

Eight castaways whose moving stories left us with a little more hope than we had before.

The Desert Island Discs podcast

The Desert Island Discs podcast

Subscribe or download individual episodes.

Listen to over 2,000 programmes



Read the surprising things we've learned about some stand-out castaways.

The 75th anniversary of Desert Island Discs

The 75th anniversary of Desert Island Discs

Featuring David Beckham, the funniest and most moving moments, animations and quizzes.

The Lark Ascending – The People’s Desert Island Disc

The Lark Ascending – The People’s Desert Island Disc

Why does Vaughan Williams’s masterpiece appeal to so many castaways?