English National Opera has announced its 2018/19 season, including five new productions, four revivals and a gala performance at the London Coliseum. Alongside these, there’ll also be collaborations with the Unicorn Theatre and, for the first time, the Theatre Royal Stratford East.
This season will see 85 performances of opera at the London Coliseum – the ENO’s West End home – having increased from 79 in 2017/18 and 73 in 2016/17.
Opening the season will be director Adena Jacobs with her UK debut in a bold and radical feminine interpretation of Salome, due to star Allison Cook in the title role. For the first time in the company’s history, the ENO will perform Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, with a cast featuring Eric Greene, Nicole Cabell, Latonia Moore and Nadine Benjamin alongside an ensemble of 40 singers.
The English National Opera’s Olivier Award-winning Chorus will then be joined by the ensemble from Porgy and Bess to present Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, directed by Artistic Director Daniel Kramer, and designed by Turner Prize-winning photographer Wolfgang Tillmans The Merry Widow will be directed by the Old Vic’s Associate Director Max Webster, with a cast of ENO favourites including Sarah Tynan, Andrew Shore and Rhian Lois joined by baritone Nathan Gunn and conducted by Kristiina Poska. The season also features the world premiere of Iain Bell and Emma Jenkins’s Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel. This will see central female roles created by some of the UK’s most esteemed singers, including Dame Josephine Barstow, Susan Bullock, Janis Kelly, Lesley Garrett and Marie McLaughlin.
The season’s revivals feature David Alden’s striking Lucia di Lammermoor, Jonathan Miller’s much-loved La bohème, Phelim McDermott’s Olivier Award-winning Akhnaten and Simon McBurney’s standing-room only production of The Magic Flute.
Meanwhile, a special evening of performances called Opera for All: 50 Years of Opera at the London Coliseum (Oct 10th) has been announced, celebrating moments from operas that have played an important part in ENO’s history, performed by stars from the company’s past and present.
In teems of collaborations, the ENO will team up with the Unicorn Theatre in May 2019 to present 19 performances of Dido – inspired by Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas – in a production specially aimed at teenage audiences directed by Purni Morell. In July 2019, the company will collaborate for the first time with Theatre Royal Stratford East to present Noye’s Fludde. Directed by Lyndsey Turner, it will bring together professional performers, children and community groups from across Newham with participants from the ENO Baylis learning and participation programme.
More than 42,500 tickets will be available at £20 or less across the 2018/19 season, up from 39,500 last season.
The 2019/20 season sees the ENO increasing to 10 fully-staged productions at the London Coliseum, and is the first to be curated by Artistic Director Daniel Kramer and Music Director Martyn Brabbins.
Reflecting on the 2017/18 season, English National Opera’s CEO, Stuart Murphy revealed that the company’s average sold occupancy had increased from 67% in 2016/17 season to 72%. He also mentioned that the percentage of audience members under 44 had gone up by 13% year-on-year, and the proportion of the company's audience with a black or minority ethnic background had risen from 4% to 10%.
Murphy admitted that though the ENO still has "much more to do in this area" but said that seeing the shift start to take place was "truly exciting."