Garsington Opera director Laura Canning has been appointed as the new general director and CEO of Opera North, the Leeds-based company’s board of trustees has announced.

Canning succeeds outgoing general director Richard Mantle OBE, who retires from Opera North on 1 December. Mantle led the company for 30 years. Canning will formally take up her new role at Opera North on 4 December, after the conclusion of this year’s Garsington Opera Festival.

“I am so excited to join Opera North at this crucial time in its development and to build on Richard’s enviable achievements,” she commented. “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.”

Laura Canning is currently director of artistic administration at Garsington Opera, a post she has held since 2015. Her operatic career spans 25 years. She worked backstage at the university theatre while studying modern languages at Cambridge University, and has worked in opera administration for her whole career. She started in singer management with Athole Still and Harold Holt.

Canning was artistic administrator at Welsh National Opera until 2008, and from there moved to Houston, Texas, where she was studio director for Houston Grand Opera. While with the company 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.

In 2015 she returned to the UK to take up the role of director of artistic administration at Garsington Opera. She works closely with the company’s production teams, principal singers, chorus and orchestra to ensure all productions are of the highest possible quality.

Richard Mantle said: “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.”

Paul Lee, chair of Opera North’s board of trustees, added: “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 artform.

“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.”

There is further information about who’s who at Opera North on the company’s website.



Garsington Opera’s director of artistic administration Laura Canning has been appointed as the new general director and CEO of Leeds-based company Opera North (Oxford Atelier).