Entertainment & Arts

Rory Kinnear and Blackpool part of new season at ENO

Rory Kinnear Image copyright ENO
Image caption Rory Kinnear will make his directorial debut with an opera version of The Winter's Tale

The new artistic director of the English National Opera has said he wants to move the company on from the "trauma" of the past year.

Speaking at the launch of the ENO's 2016/17 season, Daniel Kramer said he wanted to start a "new chapter" at the opera house.

Highlights of the season include actor Rory Kinnear making his directorial debut with The Winter's Tale.

The ENO will also take The Mikado to Blackpool's Winter Gardens next summer.

It will also rent out its London Coliseum home during the summer as it contends with reduced funding from the Arts Council.

The new season features three new operas at the Coliseum - half as many as in 2015/16 - with 21 fewer opera performances overall.

In his first public comments since his appointment last week, Kramer said the ENO had been through "a very hard year".

"The company underwent a trauma of sorts. The company spirit, which defines this company, has been in danger," he said.

Image copyright Tristram Kenton
Image caption Jonathan Miller’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado will begin in Blackpool on 25 May 2017

In February 2015, the Arts Council of England cut the ENO's core funding by £5m and placed the company under "special funding arrangements".

Artistic director John Berry quit the following July after 10 years in the post.

In February this year, the ENO chorus was set to strike over a pay dispute which was later resolved.

And in a shock announcement in March, music director Mark Wigglesworth announced his decision to leave after less than a year in the post.

Kramer, who officially starts in the role on 1 August, said had already been meeting the ENO's chorus, orchestra and stage crew.

"I cannot and will not make them false promises about things I can magically restore," he said at Thursday's launch at the Coliseum.

"My goal right now is to get a programme on the main stage and outside that will magnetise our audience every year."

Image copyright Tristram Kenton
Image caption Daniel Kramer's first programmed ENO season will be for 2018/19

Kramer, whose first programme won't be until 2018/19, said he was exploring the idea of putting on one musical a year, as well as one-off concerts, and working with new British directors.

"I've got three big commissions in motion - if we can afford them," he added. "I've hit the ground running trying to fundraise."

In 2016/17, the ENO will begin to present a summer season of work at venues outside the London Coliseum.

ENO chief executive Cressida Pollock said that in 2017 the Coliseum would be vacated by the ENO for 15 weeks. The venue would be available to rent to visiting companies for £120,000 a week.

Rory Kinnear will making his first outing as a director in February next year with The Winter's Tale, by the ENO's composer-in-residence Ryan Wigglesworth.

"I could not be more thrilled to have been invited to work with Ryan on his debut opera, and at ENO, the place where my love for the artform first took hold. I'm giddy with excitement," Kinnear said.

The actor's Shakespearean roles include Hamlet and Iago in Othello - both at the National Theatre - while his best known screen role is Bill Tanner in the recent James Bond films.

Other highlights of the ENO's 2016/17 include:

  • Jonathan Miller's production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado at the Opera House at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool.
  • The European premiere of Charlie Parker's Yardbird, a jazz-infused chamber opera by Daniel Schnyder, at London's Hackney Empire.
  • A new production of Don Giovanni, conducted by Mark Wigglesworth, with Christopher Purves in the title role.
  • A new partnership with the Southbank Centre to include a concert hall performance of Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius.
  • Revivals will include Jonathan Miller's Rigoletto and Mike Leigh's The Pirates of Penzance, Catherine Malfitano's Tosca and Penny Woolcock's The Pearl Fishers.

The ENO will celebrate the work of director Jonathan Miller with a special gala evening on 16 November, marking more than 1,000 performances of his work over a 38-year period.

Originally named the Sadler's Wells Opera Company, the ENO adopted its current name in 1974, six years after making the London Coliseum its home.

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