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Bad News for Finnish National Opera: Mikko Franck resigns as General Music Director (BK)


Mikko Franck



After only six months in post, General Music Director Mikko Franck has submitted a letter of resignation to the Board of Directors of Finnish National Opera with effect from Wednesday, February 14, 2007. Twenty eight year old Franck - the youngest Music Director ever appointed at FNO - cites differences of opinion within the management of the Finnish National Opera as the reason for his resignation.

Mikko Franck took up the post of General Music Director at the Finnish National Opera only on August 1, 2006 for a five-year term to July 31, 2011. His contract specifies a one-year period of notice, which means that his resignation will become effective on February 14, 2008. The production of Aulis Sallinen's Punainen viiva (The Red Line) premiering in March of this year will be his final appearance as General Music Director at the Finnish National Opera, a whole nine months before his official departure.

Mikko Franck was a natural choice to succeed the previous Music Director, Muhai Tang. He conducted well-received performances of The Magic Flute, L’elisir d’amore, Don Giovanni and Tosca at FNO as well as the premieres of new productions of La bohčme, Khovanshchina (for which he also composed a new ending) Manon Lescaut, Parsifal and Eugene Onegin. He also conducted the world premiere of Rasputin by Einojuhani Rautavaara.


Mikko Franck's future opera engagements include Tosca and L’elisir d’amore at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, a Ring cycle at the Deutsche Oper and Salome at the Metropolitan Opera. He holds the post of music director and chief conductor of the Orchestre National de Belgique until next summer.

FNO has been a troubled house for a while now. Last year, at almost exactly the time that Mikko Franck took up his post, significant problems with the lack of planned engagements for many of the company's stalwart principals (most of whom have world-class status) were reported by Helsingin Sanomat, one of Helsinki's broadsheet newspapers although the problems were apparently resolved shortly afterwards. The company does have serious financial difficulties however and in April last year it announced that as a result of a €1.8 million deficit in 2005, 40 employees would be made redundant. Recent cost-cutting plans (according to Helsingin Sanomat once again) include reducing main stage performances by up to 20% and also holding fewer rehearsals on the main stage. The house will close completely for some refurbishment during this summer.




Bill Kenny



 Picture © Heikki Tuuli



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