It was announced today that Copenhagen-born Kasper Holten will replace Elaine Padmore as director of opera at the Royal Opera House after the 2010/11 season.
There must be something about Copenhagen: Holten succeeded Padmore as artistic director of the Royal Danish Opera, and their identical career paths mean either that Covent Garden is spectacularly unimaginative in where it looks next for its upper echelons of operatic administration, or they're doing something right in Denmark.
Thankfully, it's mostly the latter. Holten, 37, is hot property in opera-land just now. But there's a big difference between Padmore and Holten. Padmore was a producer rather than a hands-on director, whereas Holten not only steered through the Royal Danish Opera's move to a new hall in 2005, he also directed an acclaimed Ring Cycle, one of the most impressive and imaginative of recent years (check out the Ride of the Valkyries from the show, with it nightmarish vision of the dark side of 50s glamour). Holten has built up an impressive career as a sought-after director in houses from Vienna to Helsinki.
The question for the Royal Opera is whether Holten's appointment signals a sea change in the artistic leadership of Covent Garden's productions.
Will Holten will be allowed free rein to direct the shows he wants to, and to lead from the front with the whole company's artistic direction? Under Padmore and Antonio Pappano, Covent Garden has been a singer's house rather than a place for radical productions; a place where Netrebko, Gheorghiu et al are cosseted in stagings that flatter their talents.
Holten's position could add another dimension to all that, where Covent Garden takes more risks, and gets a necessary injection of energy on the stage. An ROH spokesperson commented today: "We are committed to supporting Kasper's role as a stage director, and would love to see his work on our own stage."
So is the role going to change, to become more like a director of productions rather than an artistic administrator? "At this stage, he comes in simply to be director of opera." Reading between the lines, Holten could have the chance to turn Covent Garden into a new powerhouse of operatic production. Let's see if he's given his head.
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