The ENO, based at London's Coliseum Theatre in the heart of the West End is one of city's largest and most impressive theatrical buildings. Seating over 2500 people across four levels the building has a rich and varied history, from the home of variety and entertainment to a cinema, and is now home to both the English National Ballet and the English National Opera.
As one of London's largest auditoriums it has always had a tradition of performing well known works whilst offering accessibly priced tickets throughout all areas of the venue. The recent concert performance of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street saw the building used once again as a home to classic musical theatre, echoing back to the the 1950s where it was the chosen venue for London transfers of popular Broadway musicals such as 'Kiss Me, Kate' in 1951, 'Guys And Dolls' in 1953, 'The Pajama Game' in 1955, and 'Damn Yankees' in 1957. According to ENO records, the recent Sondheim musical, which starred Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfyl, played to 97% capacity houses across the 14 performances. What is perhaps more impressive however is the fact that 57% of those audiences were new to the ENO and were setting foot in the building for the very first time.
Diversifying audiences is one of the most important strategies for the continued success of any venue, and the London Coliseum is no exception. With Arts Council money cut back to record limits, venues all over the UK are being forced to think more commercially in terms of their programming, which means diversifying their traditional audience base whilst maintaining the highest standards of production and performance that regular audiences have come to expect. No easy task!
The ENO's Audience Development work is one of the most impressive in the capital and goes great lengths to break down any barriers potential audience members may have towards watching live opera and ballet. Although the Audience Development work is a key strategy in bringing new people into the building, one of the current primary strengths is of course their programming and exciting range of productions. Last season, the ENO was successful in winning two Olivier Awards – Best New Opera Production for The Mastersingers of Nuremberg and Outstanding Achievement in Opera for director Richard Jones and his productions of Rodelinda, The Girl of the Golden West and The Mastersingers of Nuremberg. This coming season presents an equally exciting billing of new productions and revivals of popular classics.
Although the Audience Development work is a key strategy in bringing new people into the building, one of the current primary strengths is of course their programming and exciting range of productions. Last season, the ENO was successful in winning two Olivier Awards – Best New Opera Production for The Mastersingers of Nuremberg and Outstanding Achievement in Opera for director Richard Jones and his productions of Rodelinda, The Girl of the Golden West and The Mastersingers of Nuremberg. This coming season presents an equally exciting billing of new productions and revivals of popular classics.
Highlights of the 2015/2016 season include:
Tristan and Isolde, opening in June 2016 in a new production directed by Daniel Kramer designed by leading British sculptor Anish Kapoor. Kapoor is one of world’s the most influential artists, having designed Britain’s largest piece of public art, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, for the London 2012 Olympic Games. This production will mark the first time Kapoor has worked with English National Opera.
A new production of Puccini's La boheme will offer audiences a fresh take on this popular classic. Directed by Benedict Andrews, whose work in London includes the critically-acclaimed A Streetcar Named Desire at the Young Vic will star Corinne Winters in the role of Mimí.
Mark Wigglesworth will conduct two new productions, the first, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk which will be directed by Russian director and designer Dmitri Tcherniakov, and Verdi’s The Force of Destiny directed by Catalan director Calixto Bieito, in collaboration with the Metropolitan Opera, New York.
The ENO will present revivals of five audience favourites during the 2015/16 season, including the first revival of Simon McBurney’s production of Mozart's The Magic Flute, a revival of David Alden’s 2006 production of Jenůfa by Janáček, Jonathan Miller’s The Barber of Seville and The Mikado and Anthony Minghella’s Madam Butterfly.
Currently running at the London Coliseum are two popular audience favourites – Bizet's iconic opera Carmen in a new production by Calixto Bieito which stars Justina Gringyte, making her debut in the title role conducted by Sir Richard Armstrong and Mike Leigh's brand new production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance.
The next production in the current season will be The Queen of Spades, which is based on a short story by Pushkin and features a sumptuous score by Tchaikovsky. This opera about greed and obsession will be conducted by Edward Gardner in his final production with the ENO as Music Director, in which he will work alongside Olivier Award winning Director David Alden after collaborating on the company's first production of The Queen Of Spades in over 20 years.
Ballet fans will also find much to enjoy in the upcoming programme thanks to a collection of classic and new productions featuring the talent of the English National Ballet. Recent Tony Award nominee Christopher Wheeldon (An American in Paris) brings a new production of Prokofiev's Cinderella, influenced by the original Brothers Grimm story. Featuring sets and costumes by British designer Julian Crouch, this version includes a fleshed out back-story for the lead characters and is set to be an exciting addition to the London dance scene.
Other upcoming dance highlights include:
The Ballet Folklórico de México: Mexico's national dance company return to London for the first time in more than twenty years for five performances only as they bring 40 dancers and 16 musicians to create a “captivating spectacle of live music and dance drawing on Mexico’s rich and varied history”.
St Petersburg Ballet Theatre will conclude their international tour in London as the world renowned prima ballerina Irina Kolesnikova leads the company in The Irina Kolesnikova season. Featuring international guest stars and performed with a live orchestra, this internationally acclaimed company will present two popular productions - Swan Lake and La Bayadere.
Tickets are also on sale for the seasonal classic The Nutcracker which returns to the London Coliseum this Christmas, beginning performances on 16 December 2015. Choreographed by Wayne Eagling, this seasonal treasure includes music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and has become as traditional as Turkey and mince pies.
With so many ENO productions – there has never been a better time to experience this fantastic building yourself, and take in some world-class opera. For those who are perhaps new to opera productions, The ENO at the London Coliseum is the ideal environment to become accustomed – with productions performed in English alongside the incredible orchestra, chorus and soloists. Don't miss one of London's most accessible and exciting performance venues!