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Laura Canning announced as new General Director & CEO

Opera North’s Board of Trustees today announces the appointment of Laura Canning as its new General Director & CEO. Laura succeeds outgoing General Director Richard Mantle OBE, who retires from the Company on 1 December.

Laura is currently Director of Artistic Administration at Garsington Opera, a post she has held since 2015. Her operatic career spans twenty-five years on both sides of the Atlantic. She held the post of Artistic Administrator at Welsh National Opera until 2008, and from there moved to Houston, Texas (USA) where she was the Studio Director for Houston Grand Opera. In Houston she led the highly respected Young Artist Training Programme, created a new Vocal Academy for undergraduate singers and was a key member of the artistic planning team.

Laura Canning has been announced as Opera North's new General Director & CEO

She returned to the UK to become Director of Artistic Administration at Garsington Opera as part of the leadership team of a company which has grown from strength to strength in recent years to become a significant player in the UK’s operatic life.

Following the 2023 Garsington Opera Festival, Laura will formally take up her role at Opera North on 4 December, following a transition period in the autumn.

Paul Lee, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Opera North, comments:

“Throughout her career Laura has achieved wonderful artistic highs, and she has demonstrated immense knowledge and achievement in the world of opera coupled with an obvious sense of passion and love of this great art form. During her eight-year tenure at Garsington she has contributed significantly to the artistic development of that company, and we are thrilled to have secured someone with such experience and reputation.

“Opera North has emerged from the challenges of recent years as a strong and vibrant company and now is a good time for a new General Director to animate and articulate a new artistic and business strategy for the Company into the future. Richard will be stepping down after an unparalleled 29 years in post. He leaves an organisation that is radically different to the one he joined in 1994 – one which is immeasurably stronger and more diverse in its activities and the people it serves. It is his leadership that has brought the Company through recent challenges. He has undoubtedly shaped Opera North’s character, vision and resourcefulness, and we are grateful to him for this and more.

“With her evident qualities of creativity, integrity and determination, we are confident and excited that Laura will lead the company forward in the years ahead and will establish afresh a new vision and an ever-stronger place for Opera North as England’s national opera company for the North.”

Richard Mantle, General Director of Opera North, will retire on 1 December 2023 © Samantha Toolsie

Laura Canning comments:

“I am so excited to join Opera North at this crucial time in its development and to build on Richard’s enviable achievements. I have long admired the company’s artistic ambition, the strength and innovation of its outreach work and the world-class quality of its performers and staff. I am looking forward to working with this exceptional team to continue to bring the joy of opera to our communities, and to advocate for the artform across the country.”

Richard Mantle comments:

“I am truly delighted by Laura’s appointment and very pleased to welcome her to Opera North. Having emerged from one of the most testing periods in the Company’s life, I have a huge sense of hope for the future. I am extremely confident and optimistic that Laura is the right person at the right time, and that she will prove to be an inspiring leader for this great company. Her experience and knowledge of the UK and worldwide operatic landscape, together with her espoused values of excellence, inclusivity and resilience will stand her in good stead at a time when opera in the UK is coming under scrutiny.

“I have felt incredibly fortunate to hold one of the best opera jobs in the UK and to be able to lead and work alongside so many talented, valued and inspiring colleagues. For me, it has been a hugely fulfilling experience and a privilege. Opera North is an unbeatable crucible of talent and creativity and, under Laura’s guidance and leadership, long may it continue.”


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