Report by Max Hoehn, 8 June 2015

- There exists an enormous amount of good will and loyalty to the company. All participants involved in the discussion praised several recent artistic successes and expressed the hope that this can continue and grow at a time of ever greater financial pressure.

- There was a general consensus that opera in English is integral to the company’s mission. Some raised concerns about the damaging influence of surtitles in relation to ENO’s identity and suggested a new revitalised commitment to singers’ intelligibility and the whole concept of performing in translation.

- Opera companies such as ENO and ambassadors for the art form (eg. participants in this symposium) need to articulate the importance of opera to the cultural life of the nation more effectively. If ACE funding for ENO is cut completely then a huge amount of British talent would suffer as an immediate result of this.

- Opinion was divided regarding the value of the ensemble ethos that ENO nurtured in the past with a core group of singers. Some considered this unrealistic given the current financial climate and too inflexible as a model. Others felt this had been a great asset for the company previously and should be revived.

- The recently announced change in the pricing system for the forthcoming season is most welcome. Affordability is key to ENO existing as ‘the people’s opera’.

- ENO’s policy of co-productions is economically beneficial and the number of distinguished international partners is impressive. But some argue the company’s identity is further diluted by its lack of home grown productions.

- A long-term problem with audience attendance is partly bound up with the size of the Coliseum. The discounts on offer seem to be counter-productive as people wait to book at the last minute because they know that prices will be slashed. Following on from this point, some maintain the Coliseum is simply too big. Rather than the government getting behind a new concert hall for London, many suggested that there was a greater need for a new ENO opera house. Others felt there was currently no other theatre suitable for ENO’s requirements. NYCO’s demise was also mentioned as an example of the importance of the company having a secure home.

- The series of ENO posters of stagehands from the 80s was noted as a successful example of publicity. People expressed a wish that the company’s image should be a positive one that celebrated its own artists and crew and not just the institution itself.

- Some form of ROH and ENO collaboration could be mutually beneficial while maintaining the distinctiveness of both companies.


image, ENO, management, English National Opera, Management, opera in english, London, Opera, coliseum, Funding, funding, surtitles, london, opera, Image

Comments: 1

Bill Bankes-Jones, 9 June 2015

Good report Max. On the size of the building, part of the “too big” argument was the number of seats, but also the suitability for certain pieces, which were just not conceived for a house of that size. Not that I agree, I was lucky to be part of some triumphant productions that would be deemed “unsuitable”, e.g. Ariodante, Figaro's Wedding, Turn of the Screw, even.

It was nice to see so much love for ENO.