George Lascelles, seventh Earl of Harewood and a heavyweight of the opera world, has died aged 88.
He worked at Covent Garden, English National Opera (ENO), where he was chairman from 1986-95, founded Opera magazine and edited Kobbé’s Complete Opera Book for 30 years.
When Sadler’s Wells Opera became ENO in the ’70s, Harewood oversaw the company’s transformation and its move to the Coliseum in 1968. He went on to establish a new base for English National Opera North in Leeds and was the artistic director of festivals including Edinburgh, Leeds and Adelaide, in Australia.
In 1950 he founded Opera magazine and four years later began a 30-year stint editing Kobbé’s Complete Opera Book, following a highly critical review that he’d written of the volume in Opera.
During the 1970s he oversaw a production of Wagner’s the Ring cycle at ENO, conducted by Reginald Goodall – the first complete performance in English of the work for several decades. Other productions, however, were less successful, a point which Harewood himself acknowledged saying ‘If you want the flowers in your garden to be glorious and to smell good, you must risk an occasional stink.’
Harewood worked with Sir Charles Mackerras, musical director at ENO from 1970-77 and later appointed Sir Mark Elder to the role in 1980.
He counted Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears and Maria Callas among his musical friends and was married twice – to pianist Marion Stein and later to violinist Patricia Tuckwell.
Following the announcement of his death, Loretta Tomasi, chief executive of ENO said: ‘Lord Harewood made a huge contribution to ENO and opera in general during his remarkable life – as managing director, chairman and latterly president of ENO and in overseeing the creation of Opera North. He will be greatly missed.’
He is survived by his second wife and his four sons.