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Search begins for Scottish Opera musical director

More than 90 conductors are in the running to be the new music director of Scottish Opera, its general director has revealed.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Scottish Opera, which opened in 1962 with Madama Butterfly, promises a truly amazing programme in 2014. Picture: Angela Catlin
LOOKING AHEAD: The Scottish Opera, which opened in 1962 with Madama Butterfly, promises a truly amazing programme in 2014. Picture: Angela Catlin

Three months after the dramatic departure of its last music director, who quit after only a month at the national company, general director Alex Reedijk insisted Scottish Opera had not been damaged by the affair and was looking forward to 2014, when its operatic home, Glasgow's Theatre Royal, will re-open after a multi-million pound redevelopment.

However, Mr Reedijk said the opera company, which is based in Glasgow, would probably not have a new artistic leader in place for another year.

Mr Reedijk yesterday declined to comment in detail on the departure of Emmanuel Joel-Hornak, who left the company after not conducting a note in public, however he maintained the episode had not affected the search for a new leader.

Mr Reedijk said it could take around a year to find a new music director, and it would be unlikely one would be in place for the re-opening of the Theatre Royal on May 21.

A conductor has been secured for that event, whose identity will be announced "in due course".

Mr Reedijk said: "We have been blessed with the huge amount of names that have come to our attention, more than 90.

"We are really happy with that, people who have put their names into the hat or names that we have put into the hat.

"On the whole we are perceived as a very successful opera company, when you look at the strength of our 50th anniversary journey, when you look at our increased sales in the last year. I am very happy with it, we feel blessed."

A "viable" short list of the candidates, from across the world including the UK, will be assembled in the New Year.

He said a trial period working with the Scottish Opera orchestra would a be a key part of the hiring process.

Mr Reedijk said: "You ask: are they wonderful musicians, wonderful conductors, do they know a lot about opera, can they convey a strong sense of leadership, do they really want to come to Scotland? And the answers to that has helped us get to a short list.

"As is ever with these musical roles, it can take at least a year - by the time you have decided you like them, that they are right for Scottish  Opera.

"But then you need a trial period and of course the very best candidates may not have a great deal of availability for a while, because they are busy working."

Mr Reedijk said the board of Scottish Opera, which met last week, had not put any more pressure on him during the current recruitment process, despite how quickly the appointment of Mr Joel Hornak turned sour.

Scottish Opera says it has seen a 17% increase in overall audience, comparing the last full season of 2012/13, to the season before, in 2011/12.

Mr Reedijk said the 2014 programme would be "truly amazing with tonnes and tonnes of opera".

"I'd like to think that the shows have been jolly good, and there is a high degree of confidence in the work of the company," he said.

"[Scottish Opera's production's of] Don Giovanni went well, Rondelida went down really well."

Mr Reedijk said the company was "in great order" but declined to comment in detail on the departure of Mr Joel Hornak.

At the time of his departure, it had been claimed by insiders that tensions over the future structure and artistic vision of the group, which in recent years has lost its full-time chorus and made its orchestra part-time, led to the abrupt departure.

Insiders suggested Mr Joel-Hornak, 56, had expressed a desire to have a full-time orchestra and chorus at the company, in contrast to the part-time orchestra it has had since 2010, and no full-time chorus.

But Mr Reedijk said: "Morale is really high within the company. We wouldn't be looking at 90 candidates if there was any long-term damage to the organisation."

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