At Sunday's Olivier Awards, the most prestigious awards in London theatre, the English National Opera came away with both opera awards. Winning both categories dedicated to Opera: Castor And Pollux won 'Best New Opera Production' and the ENO's breadth and diversity of the artistic programme won 'Outstanding Achievement in Opera'.
It was probably clear that the English National Opera were bound to win at least one award having secured six nominations out of the possible eight. Productions such as Richard Jones' The Tales of Hoffman and Christopher Alden's controversial production of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream were also nominated.Also nominated in the Outstanding Achievement category were Richard Jones for his new production of ENO's The Tales of Hoffmann amongst several productions and Amanda Holden for her translation of Castor And Pollux, the winning production
ENO's Artistic Director John Berry said, 'The Company is thrilled with our Olivier Award success. So many people, including the incredible ENO Company and the creative team and artists with whom we are so honoured to work with, have contributed to this achievement. Our Award for The Breadth and Diversity of the Artistic Programme recognises the important role ENO is currently playing in the international world of opera.'.
What proves most ironic is that the English National Opera were crowned both awards in the setting of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden - perhaps this is the kick up the arse the ROH needs to live up to the theatrical standards of the 21st century though I'm assured that the new Director of Opera, Kasper Holten, has this firmly in hand for next season.
The Olivier awards are right to commend the English National Opera for their work; frequently we turn up to the Coliseum in anticipation of what is going to happen and even more frequently we, as the audience, are artistic challenged by these productions that provide us with greater insights, depth and drama which, I feel, cannot be found in any other opera house around the world. Their talent, as a company, gives us operatic instability that opens our eyes and challenges the boundaries keeping opera fresh and, most importantly, alive.
The ENO also is a major contribution to the development of young opera singers that has given birth to talent such as Sophie Bevan, Kate Valentine, Nicky Spence, Allan Clayton, Ben Nelson and more as well as working with the established singers of the professional world.
The company, under the musical direction of Edward Gardner, will announce their 2012-13 season next Tuesday (24th April) which rumours suggest will include a staging of Britten's War Requiem, Gounod's Romeo et Juliette, a new production of Carmen and a revival of the hugely popular Jonathan Miller production of The Mikado.
Lastly, a personal thanks to the English National Opera, it's company, creative teams, conductors and singers for keeping everything going and for sending me on some truly great artistic adventures through the jungle of opera. Bravo, bravo, bravo.
The English National Opera will next present Wagner's The Flying Dutchman at the English Coliseum opening on the 28th April.