ENO’s trauma over, says Daniel Kramer
Daniel Kramer, English National Opera’s new artistic director, said today that the company had been undergoing a trauma this year but was now “moving forward into a new chapter”.
ENO has been hit by a 33% funding cut of £5m a year by the Arts Council, the loss of a chairman, executive director, artistic director and music director over the crisis, and a confrontation with its chorus over cuts and new pay arrangements.
“The spirit that defines this company has been in danger” Kramer said, and he has met with the chorus, orchestra and stage crew but has made them no promises. “My job is to create a core opera that will magnetise audiences” he said “and capitalise on what is ENO’s unique niche”. Although the first season he programmes will not be until 2018-19, he will be immediately involved in redirecting the company, he said.
ENO was launching its 2016/17 orchestra which will include appearances off site in new associations with the Southbank Centre, Hackney Empire and the Blackpool Winter Gardens. The company will have an extended summer absence from the Coliseum of 154 weeks instead of eight, allowing the theatre to be let. There will be more cut prise tickets available as part of the company’s policy to encourage audiences, and a gala fundraising evening in honour of Sir Jonathan Miller who has 15 ENO productions since the first in 1978.
The actor Rory Kinnear is to make his directorial debut with a new opera commissioned from Ryan Wigglesworth based on Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and there is to be a new production of Berg’s Lulu directed by the print artist and animator William Kentridge. The Blackpool production will be a revival od Miller’s The Mikado, and the Hackney Empire will see the European première of the jazz opera Charlie Parker’s Yardbird. The Southbank Centre will host a concert hall staging of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius at the Royal Festival Hall as part of an initial three-year deal. There are to be more associations, with at least 15 other organisations in consultation about future collaborations.
“It has been a testing time for the company” said ENO’s CEO, Cressida Pollock, who has a five year development plan for the company which she believes will encourage the Arts Council to maintain funding later this year, if not restore the cut £5m a year which ACE has already ruled out. “Our commitment remains resolute. It's wonderful to have Daniel join and to get to say ‘we're moving forward’.”