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Music director quits after less than two months

Trouble at Scottish Opera, again.

The French conductor Emmanuel Joel-Hornak has resigned as music director for what are described as ‘personal reasons’. He was appointed in April and started work on August 1. The company has cancelled a concert he was due to have given next week.

The rumour mill is running wild, but the cause appears to have been a breakdown in relations with  Scottish Opera’s general director Alex Reedijk.

The company has been on a downward spiral for several years.

Orchestra for the website

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  1. Egos, instead of the good of the company perhaps?

  2. Scottish Opera is a conundrum these days. On one hand you have some really excellent new productions being created-the David MacVicar Rakes Progress,the Thomas Allen series of Mozart and a very fine Hansel and Gretel with the recently departed Hornak in the pit.
    That was the first time I had heard Joel -Hornak at work and it was extremely good. A beautiful balance between orchestra and singers (not always the case with Francesco Corti) and some lovely playing from the orchestra. The signs were good and we also had a Music Director who was going to set up home in Scotland.
    So what went wrong? Well I sometimes wonder if Alex Reedijk actually likes Opera.
    If he were running a musical theatre comapny I think it would be a runaway success and there is a sense that that is actually what he would like Scottish Opera to be. There is more enthusiasm for projects like Sensory O and Baby O working with future audiences, the new short scale commissions by a range of composers and librettists than there is for full blooded Opera.
    The issue of the part time orchestra is a bit of a red herring as Scotland is a small country and already has the RSNO,BBC SSO,Scottish Chamber Orchestra and more and the Orchestra of Scottish Opera was simply not used enough to sustain a full time band. The chorus destruction was foolish.
    On the plus side Reedijk has stabilised finances,built audiences and the new addition to the Theatre Royal is very exciting . The touring production is just that. A touring production that is imaginative and can take opera to parts of Scotland that have never experienced it before and then build the audience for the full scale activity in Glasgow Edinburgh and Aberdeen. And that is the problem. We are still waiting for the full scale activity,or at least the promise of it.
    All the signs were that Reedijk and Hornak would be a good partnership and that we were in for an exciting time.
    Personally I thought that the innovative approach of Reedijk combined with the musicality of Hornak would give us both. Unfortunately that is not to be and I am still unsure why.

  3. Iaian, I think you may well be right in all of this. As an ex-member of Scottish Opera Chorus, there were times when we weren’t used at all as they did operas that simply didn’t require a chorus. Even operas like Cosi Fan Tutte which we did in our time with just 16 in the chorus, and we went to Belfast with only 24 out of the 32 we had full-time in those days – relatively small when ENO in those days were running a double chorus, which no longer exists – and we took with Onegin and Traviata as some of the chorus just refused to go to Belfast as a weapon against the company but used safety as an excuse. If the Proms can do Parsifal with a whole bunch of freelance singers at the Proms who sing in the BBC Singers, as extras in the ENO chorus and Opera North extras, and yet call it the chorus of the Royal Opera House because there are just three or four of their full-time people in it; if Opera North can send their chorus away for the summer as well and do Carousel in London using more London freelancers to save the subsistence bill of hotels for the Leeds chorus, it seems Scottish Opera will end up doing the same simply because of costs. I went to Peter Grimes last Saturday at Opera North – absolutely great, £12.75 to get in, and the theatre half empty, and at 2.30pm as well so no last trains to worry about, as you do up here have to think of when there’s no Underground equivalent! Next week it’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – see what happens there with the audience that night.

    From what you say, it sounds as if Scottish Opera and the old Scottish Opera-Go-Round, as we knew it, are all mixed up here. The whole idea of the Opera-Go-Round was to bring small-scale performances to people who had never experienced opera, and they got special, educational funding for that but no way could they bring an orchestra for those. I remember so clearly going to a performance of Rossini’s Cinderella with Iaian Robertson playing the piano at a place called Easterhouse – the East End of Glasgow, as they were mainly Scottish Opera chorus people doing solo parts. Iaian was a good assistant chorus director to John but just remember these kids in the audience throwing orange peel at the Ugly Sisters!! It was a bit of a rough ride that night :) But I’m not saying all performances are or were like that. But it was the full mainstream company, not the off shoot of Opera-Go-Round, that went to the main towns and cities in both England as well as Scotland as they had the theatres to house the company and the whole orchestra. Many places just don’t have those facilities, and certainly rural Scotland doesn’t – just a parish hall with a dubious upright piano, but it did the job, and brought opera at a price the people there can actually afford or justify paying for, and in English.

  4. Great to have your perspective on this and the issue of audience elsewhere .
    It also seem that one comment about Joel Hornak which failed to emerge was “my God he is worse than Armstrong!”. This raise the question of how on earth he was appointed in the first place

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