English National Opera

I was very disappointed that Aida did not end ENO’s run of bad shows.  The production may have a degree of popular success but, for anyone who’s been to more than a handful of operas before, it’s unlikely to please.  It would be tragic if the amateurish (Kismet, Aida) and downright ill-conceived (Carmen, Poppea) did irreperable damage to the company’s reputation.  I don’t think that will happen but there has been unhelpful talk in the press of nails in coffins.  As a reviewer, you have to tell the truth, as you see it, no matter how supportive you feel towards an organisation and, when large amounts of public money is at issue, a company has to be accountable in some way.  Finances are not the best measure here – Kismet had an unprecedented advance and Aida looks to be pretty full for its run – and there can be a massive knock-on effect from bad shows (two is unfortunate, four looks like carelessness).  I’ve had to try and persuade someone recently that they should definitely return to the Coliseum, despite questioning whether they’d ever go back after The Coronation of Poppea.  I am very hopeful that Turn of the Screw will be an artistic success (great work, great director) and let’s keep our fingers crossed that it will represent the turn-round that ENO badly needs at the moment.

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