English National Opera have had an exciting and attention catching couple of seasons. And it looks like the pattern will continue in the coming weeks and months. The recent Julius Caesar (which I should emphasise I have not seen and and can not get to) has been a succès de scandale, with extensive indignant press coverage. The Don Giovanni is, shock horror, all about sex (just like COT's which scored a scandal in 2008) - and to emphasise the point the ads show a condom with the message "Don Giovanni is coming". Well that made them sit up.
The next opening will be somehing less controversial perhaps - The Pilgrim's Progress. This will be the first professional production in England since the opening of Ralph Vaughan Williams' operatic version of the John Bunyan allegory at Covent Garden in 1951. I am looking forward to seeing its opening on November 5 - this should be a great event. People are coming from far and wide - RVW is having a resurgence.
And after Christmas there is David McVicar's new production of Charpentier's Médée, in tandem with Peter Konwitschny"s deconstruction of La traviata which will no doubt get people excited in all the wrong way. This is all excellent stuff, getting as it does the spotlight on opera, and presumably getting new audiences as well the generally enterprising ENO audience talking and discussing and questioning. Very healthy!
So I had an enjoyable lunch today with John Berry, Artistic Director of ENO, discussing all these splendid activities. You have to hand it to Berry and his first class team..........
My afternoon was more peaceful. Firstly a meeting to discuss a memorial event for dear Liza Connell. And then a lively talk with Kate Flowers and Paul Need about their Co-Opera Co. So many new things have sprung up since I was living and working in England. So I am getting round in listening and learning mode.
It was an altogether dreary London day, but not cold. But they say that winter is coming at the end of the week. People will be donning their woolies to contend with temperatures falling to 2 degrees celsius. That is 36 Fahrenheit - laughably warm for those of us used to Chicago winters. Meanwhile in Chicago itself I see that they are putting up with 76 degrees!!