OA’s chief will leave to take up appointment at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 2017.

Opera Australia has announced the resignation of its CEO Craig Hassall AM, who has been appointed as Chief Executive at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Hassall will take up his new position in the first half of 2017, giving OA six months to find his replacement. He will succeed Christ Cotton, who retires in March.

Craig Hassall. Photo courtesy of Opera Australia

Australian-born Hassall, who has been CEO at Opera Australia for three years, is no stranger to London. He was Managing Director of English National Ballet for seven years from 2005. During this time, he was also an Artistic Advisor to the hugely successful London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. He then spent a year working as CEO for Raymond Gubbay Limited where he was responsible for tours throughout Europe and Australia of popular classical concerts, operas and ballets.

Hassall began his career at Opera Australia and, after a short break, returned there as Marketing Manager. His other previous positions include Deputy General Manager at Sydney Theatre Company and General Manager at Bell Shakespeare. He also managed three portfolios for the Sydney Olympics in 2000, which included producing The Festival of the Dreaming – a celebration of Australia’s Indigenous arts. He was awarded an AM for services to the arts in the 2016 Australia Day Honours.

Opera Australia’s Chairman, David Mortimer AO, congratulated Hassall saying: “Craig has made a significant impact on Opera Australia over the three years he will have been with the Company. The Company continues to face challenges with the closure next year for an extended period of time of the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House, but Craig and Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini, along with the OA team, have introduced an excellent programme to minimise the financial disruption and ensure exciting operas and programmes continue to be available to our patrons and supporters throughout Australia.

“We will miss Craig and his leadership but recognise that his new appointment is a major one and it is wonderful to see an Australian again playing a major role in London’s arts community,” said Mortimer.

Other Australians who have held plum arts positions in London include Timothy Walker who has been Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra since November 2002, Michael Lynch, who was Chief Executive at the South Bank Centre from 2002 to 2009, Lynch’s wife Chrissy Sharp, who was General Manager at Sadler’s Wells from 2004 to 2008, and the late Gailene Stock who was Director of the Royal Ballet School for 15 years from 1999.

Hassall said he was “very proud” to have been CEO of Opera Australia. “Throughout my long association with the Company at varying stages of my career, I have always had the greatest admiration for the team who produce such an extraordinary range of works of the highest quality,” he said. “With recent changes, a national review [of opera], the 2017 closure of our main theatre and challenges for the arts sector, I remain impressed at the company’s ability to develop and define a 21st century opera company. I look forward to continuing to work with Lyndon and David Mortimer on this vision before I head to London in 2017, and of course wish the Company continued success.”