Keith Warner resigning – crisis at The Royal Danish Opera

Artistic director at The Royal Danish Opera Keith Warner resigned last night after some terrible cutbacks at the theatre.

Keith Warner has been in Copenhagen for less than a year and is the victim of a serious case of buying a pig in a poke – he was simply promised something that he never got i.e. a functioning opera house with a reasonable economy. What he got was a functioning opera house that within a few months was slaughtered economically turning it into if not a sinking ship at least a much changed institution.

You can read Keith Warner’s speech to his company here.

I have been a faithful member of the opera audience for about 15 years and I have had the fortune to see the The Royal Opera transform from a provincial house into a company of quality. Now it seems that the eleven year reign of former artistic director Kasper Holten was a golden age. These years were characterized by a growing enthusiasm about opera that culminated in 2005 with the inauguration of the new opera house.

That opera house turned out to be a terrible weight on the economy of the entire Royal Theatre. While having to run not one but two houses the economy did not follow. The politicians were amenable in the beginning but with the economical crisis the current turned and it became fashionable to see cutbacks as a fair and necessary policy. Opera, ballet and theatre turned into luxuries Denmark couldn’t afford apparently.

A week ago 81 employees were dismissed amongst them 16 choristers and 2 soloists and the number of opera stagings will be decreased next season. All in all The Royal Theatre will make cutbacks amounting to 100 billion kroner or 13.5 million euros.

I am sick and tired of these reductions. They are destroying something beautiful, something well functioning, something that has taken years to build.

These are tough times and our economy is suffering just like economies are all over the world. What I deeply regret is that we are now also to be poorer in spirit. Keith Warner’s resignation is the symptom of a true crisis at The Royal Danish Opera and an emblem of the stupidity of politicians.


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