English National Opera is the nation’s opera company, dedicated to the single aim of making opera for everyone.
In 2021, the ENO will welcome audiences back to live opera whilst developing filmed performances from its historic West End home – work that will again challenge, excite and bring together audiences, whether they can get to the theatre or not.
Founded in 1931 as Sadler’s Wells Opera, the company produces world-class productions that feel different, more theatrical and creatively daring. Through the 1968 move to the London Coliseum and renaming as English National Opera in 1974, its purpose of being open to – and for – everyone has not wavered. While its Grade II* St Martin’s Lane home remained closed during lockdown, it was important to raise the national spirits in such uncertain times.
As restrictions gradually lifted, the ENO hatched an alternative plot to bring live performers and audiences together. The result was ENO Drive & Live: La Bohème, the world’s first fully staged drive-in opera. Held in the grounds of London’s Alexandra Palace on a festival-sized stage, the modern-dress production was rehearsed and performed by two casts and crew in separate bubbles, with audiences enjoying the spectacle safely from their cars, with music through the radio. The production also broadcast live on Sky Arts. ‘This is opera but not as we’ve known it,’ said The Guardian.
ENO’s award-winning productions are sung in English, so you will understand every word. At the London Coliseum, Covid-secure procedures will ensure everyone’s visit is safe and comfortable. Opera at ENO is a brilliant theatrical experience with thrilling acting, singing, music and stage design and is more affordable than you think, with a number of attendance schemes available in 2021, and tickets from just ten pounds. Under-18s already come free to all ENO operas and this will extend to under-21s in 2021; an additional under-35s scheme offers heavily discounted tickets. And for those that want to try it for the first time, there are dedicated performances for new opera-goers through a newly developed ENO First Ticket scheme.
Equally as important as its stage productions is the work of its learning and participation department, which offers opportunities for all ages to engage with opera. In direct response to the pandemic, the ENO partnered with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust on ENO Breathe, a pioneering social prescribing intervention, providing support for patients recovering from coronavirus. This interactive programme of singing, breathing and wellbeing is delivered entirely online; after successfully piloting in September 2020, it rolls out nationwide this year.
Commitment to talent development will continue to be a crucial part of ENO’s ethos during 2021 through both the Harewood Artist programme nurturing talented British and British-trained singers to develop global careers, and the ENO Mackerras Fellowship, which provides a unique opportunity for an exceptional emerging conductor to develop their skills.
‘This year has been difficult,’ says CEO Stuart Murphy, ‘but ENO has continued to innovate and entertain. ENO can’t wait to come back even stronger when we return to the London Coliseum in 2021.’