English National Opera goes 90% British

English National Opera goes 90% British


norman lebrecht

May 12, 2021

Next season’s announcement at noon today is prefaced by a post-Brexit declaration:

90% of the cast this season is British, British-based or British-trained, continuing the ENO’s commitment to support and nurture homegrown talent.

There will be  four new productions and three revivals, 67 performances in all, which is a very shrunken season.

The new shows are:

Gilbert and Sullivan HMS Pinafore
Wagner, The Valkyrie (Richard Jones)
Janacek, The Cunning Little Vixen
Poul Ruders, The Handmaid’s Tale



  • Allen says:

    Here we go again. Waiting for the insults to roll in.

  • Will says:

    Looks like a great season to me, am excited by almost all of it.

  • Tiredofitall says:

    This season would be welcome in New York…a nod to the glory days of NY City Opera (well, the Wagner they couldn’t manage…), whose good times were pretty darn good.

    Lucky London.

  • dorset dick says:

    when i first followed ENO in 1974/75, it gave 280 performance, 180 at the coliseum and 100 on tour. What a sad decline.

    • Maria says:

      It is the times we are in, and been so for years. But it was ENO that formed Opera North in 1978, and a fine opera company put of London.

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    Excellent news. There’s a lot of talent in the UK, always has been. Time to further it, again.

  • M McAlpine says:

    First, in the circumstances, ENO is doing well to put on a season at all post pandemic.
    Second, as it is an ENGLISH National Opera the nurturing of British talent is surely to be applauded. About time too!

  • Bean says:

    All that’s going on in the world and you choose to make this comment. Take your negativity elsewhere.

  • La plus belle voix says:

    The basic tenet that ENO productions of, say, operas by Mozart, Verdi and Wagner should all be sung in English, is defeated by the fact that surtitles were introduced at the ENO in 2005 because ca. 75% of the audience could not hear the words clearly.

  • Akutagawa says:

    God, not the Handmaid’s Tale again. I saw it the first time round at the ENO in I guess the late 1990s, and it was dreadful. The only thing I can remember about it at all was that the set had imaginary doors and every time a woman knocked on one wearing a silly hat the orchestra produced a ring chime, which was amusing at first but palled at the thirteenth rendition. I can’t believe they think it’s worth mounting a new production of it – presumably to lure the unwary who’ve been watching it on the telly. I fear the first timers will end up as disappointed as all the families with small children who came to the Barbican semi-staging of Knussen’s Where the Wild Things are.

  • And quite right too.

  • Maria says:

    Not before time! It was set up for that in England for homegrown talent in the first place. So many singers, English or home British – as opposed to others with British passports because of a British grandparent – have been overlooked for many years – and opera in English, hurray!

    • La plus belle voix says:

      Which “home British” singers have been ignored Maria? Which British passport holders with a British grandparent enjoyed singing careers? And please do explain the difference between your categories. I’m slightly confused.

  • Stephen Diviani says:

    Excellent season, with three new productions I want to see & one revival (‘HMS Pinafore’ since you ask). Some first-rate singers I can’t wait to hear sing again. Congratulations to everyone at ENO. And thanks!

  • SVM says:

    How do they define “British-trained”, exactly? Would it cover, for instance, a singer living overseas who has studied privately with a UK-based singing teacher (or vocal coach, répétitur, conductor, or any other type of teaching/coaching/mentoring specialism associated with opera and/or singing operatic repertoire) via Zoom for a year? If not, would the answer change if it had been in person? Or would the singer need to have participated in a full production (student or professional) in the UK to be deemed “British-trained”? Or do they define it as “enrolled at a UK institution on a course specialising in singing for at least a year”?

    And when they say “cast”, does that include one-liners and supernumeraries?