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Scottish Opera's music director had vision at odds with company

The music director of Scottish Opera, who left the company suddenly after only a month in the post, had wanted to expand the range of titles it produces and build a repertoire around Mozart and Verdi, his "vision document" has revealed.

earlier 	WORK: Scottish Opera??s 2008-9 co-production of Verdi??s La Traviata was conducted by Emmanuel Joel-Hornak. Picture: Drew Farrell
earlier WORK: Scottish Opera??s 2008-9 co-production of Verdi??s La Traviata was conducted by Emmanuel Joel-Hornak. Picture: Drew Farrell

Emmanuel Joel-Hornak, the 56-year-old French conductor, departed "for personal reasons" amid claims of disputes over the opera's future structure and artistic vision. In recent years it has lost its full-time chorus and made its orchestra part-time.

The vision document, which Mr Joel-Hornak circulated to Scottish Opera colleagues in the summer, set out some of his ideas for the company in a series of more than 30 points.

His final goal, which appears to have been a long term aim, was to "re-install a full-time orchestra and a full time chorus".

This would appear to be at odds with the present arrangement of the company, which is run by general director Alex Reedijk.

Mr Joel-Hornak also said: "My vision is to not transform Scottish Opera in a Gilbert and Sullivan company."

This could be seen as a caustic reference to the production of The Pirates of Penzance, a Gilbert and Sullivan production from last May, that was a co-production with D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.

The document says: "My vision is to propose a programmation based on the two main operas genius: Mozart and Verdi. And around them to build a balanced season every year."

Mr Joel-Hornak added: "[I] believe that everything is important, from the young emerging artists, to the established artists.

"From the cover to the stage crew. From the wardrobe to the people working in the office. From the musicians, and music staff, to the cleaning people. Because they are all creating an unique form of Art: Opera.

"My vision is to believe that all performances are important and equal. From the great Opera in the main towns to the small scale touring performances in small villages. From the symphonic concerts to the emerging artists concerts."

Mr Joel-Hornak's plan said he would "propose the great ­popular titles, but not always the same" and to "go back to playing more titles."

Currently, the opera company produces four main scale operas a year, although there are three this year due to the closure of the Theatre Royal for a major revamp.

Both Scottish Opera and Mr Joel-Hornak's agent declined to comment on the document. The music director's departure was described last week as an "out of the blue bombshell", and leaves the company searching for a new musical leader only months after announcing his arrival.

Several sources inside Scottish Opera, funded by the Scottish Government, reported "high tension" between Mr Reedjik and Mr Joel-Hornak, who was highly rated by the orchestra.

The company has had to postpone a concert at Glasgow's St Andrews in the Square, planned for October 6. Mr Joel-Hornak, who had previously worked with the opera company on Hansel and Gretel in 2012 and La Traviata (2008-9), was announced as the company's fifth musical director in April and took up his post, replacing Francesco Corti, on August 1.

The split comes as a blow to the company, which is engaging in a £12.45m revamp of the Theatre Royal and embarking on a season with three full-scale operas.

At the time of the appointment, Mr Reedijk said the new man was a fantastic music maker with "a certain Gallic flair".

Mr Joel-Hornak studied at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris, and has conducted in opera houses around the world, such as English National Opera, San Francisco Opera, Göteborg Opera, Sydney Opera House and the Bolshoï Theater.

Mr Reedijk recently said that the opera was in a healthy state, with a 17% increase in audiences.

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