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Opera North's Richard Mantle to retire


Opera North's general director, Richard Mantle
Opera North's general director, Richard Mantle

Richard Mantle OBE, Opera North's driving force as general director for almost 30 years, is to retire next year.

Richard joined the Leeds-based company in 1994 from Edmonton Opera in Canada, where he had been managing director, following senior roles at Scottish Opera and English National Opera.

He was awarded an OBE in June 2013 for services to music, is a Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, and holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Leeds and York.

Under Richard’s leadership, the company has been widely admired for its adventurous creative spirit and production excellence, and has developed into a major UK arts company offering touring opera, a large-scale concerts programme and a range of eclectic music, talks and films, as well as education and community partnerships.

Richard has also overseen multi-million pound refurbishment and development programmes to widen the scope of the company's work.

He said the idea of retirement was in his mind two years ago, before Covid intervened.

"I had been considering the possibility of retiring, though I was keen to see the completion of our ambitious Music Works project and to welcome Garry Walker as our new music director," he explained.

These things having come to fruition, he and Opera North chairman, Paul Lee, have agreed to begin the search for his successor.

"I anticipate I will step down at the end of 2023; the exact date will be flexible," he said.

"Now is a good time for a younger person to lead the team, who will bring fresh ideas and articulate a new strategy for the company over the decade ahead.

"We have emerged from one of the most testing periods in the company’s life with a great deal of hope and ambition for the future, though it will not be without its challenges."

Paul Lee, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Opera North, commented: “Richard will be stepping down after an unparalleled 29 years. Through it all – the artistic triumphs and remarkably rare disasters, the endless bids for funding, an economic crash, a global pandemic – he has led Opera North with integrity, prodigious energy, resilience, an uncompromising pursuit of excellence, and not least, great good humour.

"All of us who have worked with him over the years will feel a profound sense of gratitude

for his immense service.”