ENO picks Manchester
English National Operas has chosen Greater Manchester over Liverpool and Birmingham to be its regional base.
Greater Manchester and ENO are forming a working partnership to develop the new centre by 1929, while the opera company will continue to produce at its London home, the Coliseum, for five months of the year.
The agreement marks the end of a year of turmoil for the company, during which its chief executive and its music director have both left, after losing its subsidy and being told to leave London by the Arts Council.
In November last year the ENO was given 24 hours’ notice by the Arts Council that it was to lose its £12m National Portfolio annual funding from April, 2023, but the company would be assisted to move its operation out of London in line with the government’s “levelling up” policies. Later, ACE pledged £11.46m to sustain the coming ENO season, and then a budget of £24m to help set up a regional home. In July this year the ENO was told that the target date of July 2026 had been changed to March 2029, and that it could continue to produce at the Coliseum, which it owns.
Music director Martyn Brabbins resigned abruptly in September over plans to cut the orchestra by 19 players. CEO Stuart Murphy was already scheduled to leave in April, and he has been replaced by Jenny Mollica as interim CEO.
“Throughout our discussions with partners and stakeholders in Greater Manchester, we have been struck by an emerging vision for the future of ENO and operatic work in the city-region, defined by a shared ambition to open up new possibilities for opera in people’s lives” said Mollica. “We look forward to embarking on new adventures with partners, artists and audiences across Greater Manchester as we create a range of operatic repertoire at a local, national and international scale, inspired by the extraordinary cultural vibrancy of Greater Manchester and its communities.”
Mayor Andy Burnham said Greater Manchester was proud to bring ENO north. “We’ve worked closely with them to set out a shared vision for a future in our city-region, where they can continue making ground-breaking opera, foster new collaborations with artists across the north, and bring their award-winning learning and wellbeing programmes to communities here” he said.