Britain's ENO hires Mike Leigh, Sellars to woo youth to opera

by Reuters
Tuesday, 29 April 2014 09:57 GMT

* Film director Leigh to direct "Pirates of Penzance"

* Sellars returns as director-in-residence

* ENO director says aim is to attract younger audiences

By Michael Roddy

LONDON, April 29 (Reuters) - The English National Opera (ENO) unveiled a strategy on Tuesday to attract a younger audience with a programme that includes an operatic debut by British film director Mike Leigh and the return of maverick American opera director Peter Sellars.

The 2014-15 season also includes a partnership with the Bristol Old Vic theatre company and veteran musical producers Michael Grade and Michael Linnit, an ENO statement said.

"Our wider initiatives are designed to foster close commercial partnerships, produce more work more efficiently, and attract new audiences - all deliverable at a lower cost to the public purse," ENO Artistic Director John Berry said.

"This plan will create a sustainable future for ENO, without compromising on the quality of our work, and will keep us at the forefront of the international opera world."

Leigh, famous for his improvised films and "kitchen-sink realism", will make his debut with a production of the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta "The Pirates of Penzance", the ENO said.

Sellars, who has alternately shocked and thrilled opera audiences for decades, for example with a production of Mozart's "Don Giovanni" set in New York's Spanish Harlem, returns to the ENO as director-in-residence, it said.

He will direct the stage premiere of composer John Adams's "The Gospel According to the Other Mary" as well as the first fully staged production in Britain of Purcell's "The Indian Queen", the ENO said.

The opera company will team up Bristol Old Vic director Tom Morris and its own ENO Harewood Artists to present Monteverdi's "Orfeo" at Britain's oldest continuously operating theatre.

It will also work with Grade and Linnit to produce musical theatre at the ENO's home venue, London's Coliseum, which has more seats than the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and which the ENO sometimes struggles to fill.

The ENO said that five productions from the new season - "Otello", "The Way Back Home", "La Traviata", "The Pirates of Penzance" and "Carmen" - would be screened to cinema audiences in Britain, Ireland and in other countries around the world. (Editing by Louise Ireland)

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