By Francisco Salazar
Opera North has announced that Richard Mantle OBE DL will retire as General Director in 2023 after almost 30 years of leading the Company.
Mantle joined the company in 1994, following previous roles as Managing Director at Edmonton Opera in Canada, at Scottish Opera, and as Deputy Managing Director at English National Opera.
He was later awarded an OBE in June 2013 for services to music, is a Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, and holds honorary doctorates from both the University of Leeds and the University of York.
As the General Director of Opera North, Mantle has seen the Company transform into a complex, multifaceted arts organization ready to meet 21st-century challenges, delivering large-scale touring opera and a symphonic concerts program as well as eclectic music, talks, and film program of the 300-seat Howard Assembly Room in Leeds.
He also led two significant capital developments of Opera North’s estate, including the Transformation program which created purpose-built rehearsal facilities and led to the opening of the Howard Assembly Room in 2009, and the recent Music Works project to create additional rehearsal space for the Orchestra and Chorus, dedicated Education studios, and improved front of house facilities for the Howard Assembly Room, including Kino, a new restaurant and bar on New Briggate which opened in 2022.
In a statement Mantle said, “A little over 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. Opera North has now come through the considerable challenges of the pandemic intact and in good shape. We have completed a full season of opera and music, culminating in the incredible experience of ‘Parsifal,’ we have finally completed Music Works, and we are delighted that Garry Walker has relocated to the UK and joined us here in Leeds as Music Director. Having discussed this at length with our Chair, Paul Lee, we have agreed that now is the time to instigate a process to identify and appoint my successor. I anticipate that I will step down at the end of 2023; the exact date will be flexible depending on the appointment of a new General Director.”