Breaking: ENO settles its chorus crisis

It appears that the chorus have agreed to move from full-time work to nine-month contracts. This would represent a significant gain for chief executive Cressida Pollock and a face-saving device for the singers and their union, Equity.

Expect Cressida to open similar negotiations with the orchestra.

Press release follows.


English National Opera reaches a settlement with Equity

eno chorus strike

English National Opera can confirm that a deal to change ENO chorus contracts has been reached with Equity.

The settlement will see the ENO Chorus move to a nine-month contract to reflect the length of future seasons at the London Coliseum. These contracts will run from August – April (inclusive). During the months of May – July, when the company performs outside of its home venue, ENO Chorus members will be offered work on a first refusal basis. The Chorus will reduce in number for 44 members to 40 from August 2016. The new chorus pay package will come into effect from 1 August 2017.

Cressida Pollock, Chief Executive of ENO, said, “I am delighted that we have been able to reach a deal with Equity. We recognise the fundamental importance of the ENO Chorus in delivering world-class opera. We listened to the concerns of the Chorus and have reached a fair compromise that preserves the permanent ensemble, focussing on our London Coliseum season, whilst ensuring that we have the building blocks in place to increase our outside work. This settlement will contribute to the wider changes in our business model, to ensure that ENO becomes a more financially resilient organisation, able to move forward on a reduced public subsidy.”

Harry Brunjes, Chairman of ENO, commented, “On behalf of the ENO Board I would like to thank Cressida and the ENO Chorus for their hard work in reaching this compromise. We are now looking forward to the future, and to working together to ensure that our great organisation thrives for decades to come.”




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  • A needless confrontation which only highlighted the ineptitude of the ENO management

    No Artistic Director. No plan for having the Arse Council “special measures” lifted.

    No vision whatosever. It all makes ENO a sitting duck for Tory fire.

    Deeply, deeply depressing for those of us with past or present affiliations to the company.

  • Have I missed something? All that rallying of support, all those petitions, the angry Twitter account, the celebrity endorsements, and that emotive talk of “ripping the heart out of the company”…weren’t the Chorus and their union supposed to be gearing up for a fight? What happened to that? This looks like the sort of compromise any fairly reasonable group of people could have worked out pretty quickly.

    If the principle for which everyone was fighting was that reforming any part of the Chorus contract undermined the whole core purpose of the company (as we kept hearing), why – having rallied this great wave of public support – aren’t they still fighting it? This all seems very sudden. If they’d intended to accept some variant of the proposals all along, and generating all that public support was purely a negotiating tactic, it’s hard to imagine public and press will be quite so ready to weigh in on their behalf if they face a genuine existential threat in future.

    As it is, it’s been fairly unedifying, watching members of the London-based arts commentariat angrily attacking facts and figures provided by ENO management while accepting without question equally dubious statistics brandished by the union – and working themselves into such a lather over a company which, even after cuts, will still have a larger chorus than (say) WNO and a substantially more generous public subsidy than Opera North or any other regional company. Willing to accept that I may have missed something…

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