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Director of Opera Kasper Holten to leave The Royal Opera in March 2017

The search for his successor will begin in the New Year.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

9 December 2015 at 11.15am | 32 Comments

Kasper Holten, Director of Opera at The Royal Opera, will leave the Company at the end of March 2017. The search to find his successor will begin in the New Year.

In a letter to staff Kasper has written:

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you as I want to share with you that I have decided to leave my position at The Royal Opera in March 2017.

I love working at ROH – and with all the amazing colleagues here – and it feels very painful to let go of that in 2017. But when I moved to London, my partner and I didn’t have children. Now we do, and after much soul searching we have decided that we want to be closer to our families and inevitably that means we make Copenhagen our home where the children will grow up and go to school.

So when Alex offered me an extension of my contract for another five years beyond summer 2016, I have decided only to ask for an extension of seven months, giving the ROH time to plan for my succession and for me to continue the work as long as possible. I will therefore leave my position in March 2017 after Tony and I open our new production of Wagner’s Meistersinger here at ROH. But my work isn’t done yet, so please don’t do too many farewells quite yet!

I will continue to work hard for The Royal Opera until the day I leave, and Tony and I will put strong plans in place for The Royal Opera until 2020 and beyond, with a varied repertory and many exciting new commissions and productions. 

It is with a very heavy heart that I send you these lines, but at the end of the day this decision has been inevitable for me. I am deeply grateful to ROH and to all of you for the amazing adventure it has been to work here – and will continue to be for a while yet!

Warmest regards,


Antonio Pappano, Music Director of The Royal Opera said: ‘Kasper Holten has been electric during his time at the Royal Opera House, demonstrating an uncanny energy, perseverance and vision for the future of our great institution. My collaboration with him on Król Roger was one of the most fruitful experiences I have had during my time at this theatre. I am very sad that he has decided he must leave, as I believe it will be a major loss for our Company, and for me personally. I wish him and his family the very best wishes for their future. Thank you Kasper for all that you have given to the ROH.’

Alex Beard, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House added: ‘Kasper Holten is a wonderful colleague and a good friend, and continues to bring extraordinary energy and vision as our Director of Opera. While I had very much hoped to work with him through to 2020 and beyond, I understand and respect his reasons for moving back to Copenhagen. Although sad that Kasper will be leaving, I am pleased that he has agreed to extend his contract until his new Meistersinger opens here in 2017.’

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

9 December 2015 at 11.15am

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Director of Opera, Kasper Holten

This article has 32 comments

  1. Roger Mullis responded on 9 December 2015 at 11:31am Reply

    I can only endorse everything that Antonio Pappano and Alex Beard have said above. Nothing to add but heartfelt thanks and very best wishes.

  2. Steffen Mandrup-Christensen responded on 9 December 2015 at 11:36am Reply

    Please come back to Copenhagen

  3. Christopher Prentice responded on 9 December 2015 at 12:13pm Reply

    Good. Perhaps the ROH will use the opportunity to appoint someone whose productions might actually do some justice to the composers concept and even give some pleasure.

    • Steffen Gliese responded on 9 December 2015 at 1:14pm

      Why do you think that the composer would have a concept? Very few of them write their own librettos, and mostly they are more concerned about philosophies rather than plot.

    • Sebastian Petit responded on 9 December 2015 at 5:20pm

      A foolish, ignorant comment. Have some manners!

    • Stephen Diviani responded on 9 December 2015 at 6:47pm

      A rude, arrogant comment. Learn some manners.

    • Marcus responded on 28 September 2016 at 11:34pm

      Well said! Perhaps Kasper Holten talent for mounting hopeless productions will be appreciated somewhere else!

  4. So very sad to hear this news, Mr Holten has made me fall back in love with opera with his great enthusiasm and energy! I will be particularly sad to see him go and thank him for all his wonderful productions. I wish him all the very best for the future.

  5. James Ferrara responded on 9 December 2015 at 12:53pm Reply

    Much Thanks from the fans of the ROH,
    from across the big Pond.
    Good Luck.
    James N.Y.C

  6. Great that such a successul and good man ( had privilage of meeting him on a couple of occasions) has put his family at the forefront of his career.

  7. Karin Schilling responded on 9 December 2015 at 1:01pm Reply

    Nej! Bliv, Kasper. Bliv!

    • Karin Schilling responded on 9 December 2015 at 1:04pm

      Det kunne misforstås, beklager. Det, jeg mente var: KOM TILBAGE TIL KØBENHAVN!

  8. Helen Andrews responded on 9 December 2015 at 1:07pm Reply

    Very sad news indeed. Kasper has been a breath of fresh air and Krol was fantastic. I hope to see Kasper back with some exciting new productions after 2017.

  9. Mike K responded on 9 December 2015 at 2:17pm Reply

    This is surely good news, primarily of course from the KH family perspective. But bearing in mind that KH's stated objective on appointment of shaking up the ROH has involved hiring a miserable trail of directors who think operas are basically defective and need a lot of additional modern thinking leading to correction/enhancement/additions it's probably good for the ROH as well. Some of the productions were rubbish. But of course we wish KH and the KH family well.

  10. Niels Borksand responded on 9 December 2015 at 2:17pm Reply

    Du skal være så velkommen tilbage.Til København

  11. north london responded on 9 December 2015 at 3:26pm Reply

    Thank you Kasper and hope you enjoyed your time in London. Best of luck. You are extremely down to earth and not afraid to come to this section of the website and face your anonymous critics. Your efforts to add some life to ROH and challenge people's ideas of art are most appreciated.

  12. Coppelia responded on 9 December 2015 at 3:43pm Reply

    Very sad indeed to hear this news. I immensely enjoyed his productions of Eugene Onegin, Don Giovanni and Krol Roger. Best wishes to him for the future

  13. francois responded on 9 December 2015 at 3:56pm Reply

    I am deeply sad though I understand Mr Holten's choice to give priority to his family. We owe to Mr Holten lots of fantastic innovations at the ROH, chiefly the extremely successful partnership with the Globe, which led to an extraordinary production of L'Ormindo, but also the partnership with the Roundhouse (L'Orfeo) and a very dynamic program of creations at the Linbury.
    Moreover I appreciated so much the way Mr Holten used to interacting with the audience, both when speaking in front of the curtain for some announcements and when he created a dialog on blogs and tweets. Mr Holten has not only been a dynamic Artistic Director, he also managed to create a very human relationship with audiences and was always open to discussion, even when audiences disagreed with his artistic choices.
    I will always remember some amazing performances that I enjoyed under his direction - and yes, I am one of those who loved Guillaume Tell!-.
    I am deeply sad...

  14. Geoff responded on 9 December 2015 at 4:06pm Reply

    Let me add another voice to those who are sad about this news. I really liked Eugene Onegin (and hope many people will give this production another chance, or a first chance, when it returns shortly) as well as DonGiovanni and KingRoger. And CavPag demonstrated that Holten's faith in Micheletto was not misplaced. Good luck to him and his family!

  15. Charlie responded on 9 December 2015 at 5:42pm Reply

    Kasper, very sad to hear of your departure, but good luck in whatever you go on to do. I've had great pleasure in attending many of ROH's great productions over the last few years. So many highlights and I believe that you've really helped people all over the company play their part in ROH's recent successes, and such high production values as well. Thanks for all the memories!!
    ps. I hope whoever is chosen as successor will have similarly foresight and continue to develop the company.

    • Stephen Diviani responded on 15 December 2015 at 11:23am

      Totally agree, and, like you, I sincerely hope that the Board will appoint a progressive, rather than a reactionary, who can continue Mr Holten's project of leading the RO into the 21st century, as opposed to dragging it back to the 1950s.

  16. Valerie Osborne responded on 9 December 2015 at 6:16pm Reply

    Nothing to do with the booing then?

  17. Mark Stobbs responded on 9 December 2015 at 6:47pm Reply

    It is sad news. It feels as though he's only just arrived (I think the present one is the first season that he's fully responsible for and it's actually rather good so far). To read some comments above you would think that controversial productions were invented by him. I haven't liked everything but I'm glad he challenged us and I was looking forward to more.

    More worrying is that, if some of those comments are anything to go by, what intelligent opera director would want to put his hat in the ring to face that abuse?

    He's been an honest, engaging and committed director who's been responsible for some great events here - and it's never been dull.

  18. Stephen Diviani responded on 9 December 2015 at 6:58pm Reply

    Very, very sad news for the staging of opera in London. I entirely understand Mr Holten's reasons for leaving, but on a purely selfish note, he has made the RO into an exciting, vibrant, thought-provoking theatre, with productions, both his own & those by other directors, which made opera alive & relevant & I was looking forward to many more years of opera-going under his tutelage, for which read some great night's out. (Can he really not be persuaded to stay? Please!!)

  19. John Rose responded on 10 December 2015 at 12:06pm Reply

    I agree with Stephen Diviani and the majority of the comments above. We'll miss his energy and engaging manner...and for thinking "outside the box". Using the Round House for "Orfeo" was a stroke of genius.
    Good luck,Kasper!

  20. Darren Woods responded on 10 December 2015 at 4:35pm Reply

    Wishing you well, Kasper!

  21. nigel ashton responded on 11 December 2015 at 10:26am Reply

    The greatest and most intelligent staging of Eugene Onegin I have ever seen,solving all the problems of the passage of time, genius- how we will miss him. Let's hope the board don't listen to the sad little group of booers who want to watch reruns of 1950s productions and seem intent on destroying new work at this great house.

  22. Jan Leigh responded on 11 December 2015 at 5:54pm Reply

    Very sorry to see you go Kasper. We will miss you. Good luck for the future.

  23. g thompson responded on 12 December 2015 at 9:42am Reply

    only 25 mostly "missing you" comments shown here? I find it difficult to believe it.

  24. Christian Martins responded on 18 August 2016 at 2:02pm Reply

    Dear Kasper Holten,
    Why don´t you do "Les Miserables" with operasingers?
    Hope you`ll find a nice job after London.
    Christian Martins, Denmark

  25. Marcus responded on 28 September 2016 at 11:31pm Reply

    Why stay until March 2017? This man has allowed money to be wasted on too many inappropriate and inept productions. NORMA is yet another example of a superimposed style that was at odds with the libretto that was being sung. After MARIA STUARDA I thought there could be nothing worse. I was wrong.

  26. It was probably the wrong venue for Mr Holten's work- perhaps another company eg ENO would have been more suitable. The Royal Opera is significantly subsidised by taxpayers and of late, there have been only a tiny fraction of the audience that the revised and rebooted operas seemed to be aimed at. A lot of money lavished on getting the best singers of the day to perform in disappointing productions that ruined our enjoyment of a great score and brilliant singing talents. Not surprising that more cancellations seem to occur of late and with this House. I've been attending operas at Covent Garden since the 80s when I was at school and never have I had so many guests and myself sorely disappointed with every opera outing as we've had in the last 3 years. (This coming from someone who sees avant garde works at Sadler's Wells and ENO). I wish Mr Holten the very best of luck with his future plans.

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