So what do we make of Meat Loaf at English National Opera?

So what do we make of Meat Loaf at English National Opera?


norman lebrecht

November 04, 2016

The Coliseum is being rented out next summer to Bat Out of Hell, a musical based on the music of the rock star Meat Loaf.

The revenues will be used to sustain the ailing opera company.

But while previous occupants of the Coli have been stage musicals and ballet shows in roughly in the same genre as ENO, mightn’t the invasion of rock music damage the brand – not to mention the fabric of the building?

Official announcement here.



  • Robert James says:

    Ain’t the first time, old chap. Weren’t you there for Lauryn Hill?

  • Will says:

    The article is misleading. This is not like Sunset Boulevard or Sweeny Todd – this is a rental and not an ENO production. Seems absolutely fine to me if it brings in some money for ENO. And of course, before it was ENO’s home the Coliseum was a cinema and prior to that a variety house, so it’s not like its some sacrosanct opera-only space.

    • Paul Kelly says:

      I think Norman’s comment is quite reasonable and not at all misleading.

      There is a big difference between producing and receiving venues. Producing venues seek artistic credibility and brand value through a carefully constructed programmes built on artistic principles. Receiving venues book in any old thing that makes money and end up with a mish-mash programme that affects the venue’s profile and reputation.

      I presume ENO thought Meatloaf both popular and in some way operatic. If you are going to go that route, why not aim for The Who. At least they have produced two operas.

      As for Meatloaf, it’s not the canniest piece of popular programming, but chicken in the basket would be more worrying.

      • V.Lind says:

        *Receiving venues book in any old thing that makes money and end up with a mish-mash programme that affects the venue’s profile and reputation.*

        Nonsense. What you call “receiving venues” — theatrical spaces available for rent by any artistic group that meets the civic bylaws — do not have reputations affected by the variety of what goes on, except perhaps as a venue worth checking out for those looking for something to do. They are neutral spaces.

        I am not aware of what the constitutional position of ENO is at the Coliseum, but if it is not presenting this event, merely making its space available to a company with a show to stage and in search of a large venue, then good on it. Will’s point is exactly correct.

        If, on the other hand, it is the stated presenter of the programme, it may be subject to criticism.

        It would seem from the linked report that it is simply renting out the space. As there will be no ENO productions over the period, it seems very smart to make the place earn for them.Most people would rather see Bat out of Hell in avenue than have it remain dark, eating up taxes and maintenance costs for months on end. Lighten up.

      • Halldor says:

        Royal Opera House, Wigmore Hall, Southbank, Barbican, Symphony Hall Birmingham, Wales Millennium Centre, Sage Gateshead, Leeds Grand Theatre, Glasgow Theatre Royal, Belfast Grand Opera House, Bridgewater Hall Manchester – every single one of these (ie basically every major subsidised opera venue and concert hall in the UK) is both a receiving and a producing house.

        Maybe you avert your eyes from the competition winners’ showcases at the Wigmore, the pop gigs and Glenn Miller tribute nights at the Barbican, the Mariinsky buy-outs and TV award ceremonies at the ROH, the Christmas crossover spectaculars at the RFH and so on. Fair enough, it’s a matter of taste. But to single out ENO for doing what everyone else does seems perverse. And I don’t see any evidence that it’s affected the reputation of any of these venues.

  • Sue says:

    This is NOT a musical on the life of Meatloaf but a musical based on the album Bat Out of Hell…..

    • Jane Jamieson says:

      Indeed it is – written by Jim Steinman, nothing really to do with Meatloaf at all.
      It will be wonderful I know – and a spectacle – musically and visually – go and see it!

  • Jonny Crossfield says:

    The Royal Albert Hall hosts all sorts of weird and wonderful events and is still standing.

  • Keith says:

    The Pet Shop Boys and Bjork have “gigged” at the Royal Opera House, which also hosts the BAFTAs and, I seem to recall, appeared as a location set in the Bruce Willis film “The Fifth Element” (OK, that was when it was closed for redevelopment, but still…).

  • Una says:

    Great! No problem with that. Time to diversify. Sometimes getting people into a place for one thing – particularly now associated as an opera and ballet house – will get them into something else. ENO can’t afford to sit there and rot. And I just love ENO as a company.

  • James says:

    And Lauryn Hill has performed at the Colly… and who could forget Gaddafi the opera with Steve “Chandrasonic” Savale and the Asian Dub Foundation…. that was all when Alex Poots was getting down with the kidz…. that worked…..

  • Maria says:

    The ENO is saddled with the largest theatre in London. Can’t blame it for trying to raise some cash.

    As for attracting more people to opera/classical – I’ve lost track of the number of brilliant schemes designed to achieve this. Any suggestion that people who enjoy Meatloaf will think “I’ll try opera because it happens in the same theatre” seems a bit ridiculous to me. On that basis, the Proms would have been attracting boxing fans for years.

    The best solution IMO is for opera to be treated as a “normal” form of entertainment on TV and in schools.

  • Simon Evnine says:

    And Tony Blair ‘performed’ at the Royal Festival Hall, London the night he got elected. Sorry, but this meatloaf thing is a bit of a non-story.

  • William Safford says:

    Is this rental displacing something else? If not, I don’t see what the problem is. If so, is this a necessary step to maintain solvency?

    • David Nice says:

      Yes, it’s displacing ENO’s full season (if I’ve got the timing right) as amputated by the new administration. Seemed of some validity when the great Meatloaf himself was promised to appear (i’m waiting for someone to say that if Lulu can appear at ENO, why not Meatloaf?) No longer.

      And for clarity, does that mean we get the now-annual semi-ENO musical around easter, too? Is that still to be Carousel.