ETO wins £25K Creativeworks London award

1st July 2015

ETO has won a £25,000 award from Creativeworks London to explore how the audience experience of live opera and audience engagement with the art form can be enhanced.

The award, which has been made jointly to a team from ETO and Guildhall School of Music & Drama, was announced yesterday evening (30 June), after seven teams took part in a competitive ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitch process to industry experts.

ETO and Guildhall School plan to use the award to fund new research into how opera-goers see the live art form, with help from partners at Hackney Empire and Mousetrap Theatre Projects. The research results will then in turn inform the development of new digital or non-digital enhancements to future ETO performances.

During the pitching process yesterday, each team was invited to individually pitch their ideas to a judging panel of six experts including Chris Moore (UK Trade & Investment), Vicky-Marie Gibbons (Bethnal Green Ventures) and Steve Legg (IBM Corporation).

ETO was one of two BOOST winners announced yesterday, with another £25,000 prize also awarded jointly to the June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive & Birkbeck, University of London.

ETO Head of Marketing John Holmes, who made the pitch to the panel, said: ‘Finding ways to engage with our audiences all-year-round is a major priority for English Touring Opera, especially as quirks in data protection legislation mean we often don’t get to know who our audience members actually are.’

He added: ‘The expertise of Guildhall School, funded through Creativeworks London, gives us the opportunity to tackle this problem meaningfully. Having experienced researchers actually asking audience members how their engagement with opera could be enhanced, rather than embarking on expensive digital projects for which there is no appetite, is of immeasurable benefit for a company with finite resources such as ourselves.’

Professor John Sloboda, Director of the Guildhall School’s Understanding Audiences Programme, said: ‘Guildhall School is pleased to be able to offer its research expertise to a collaborative project with a valued partner which will both allow new intellectual insights into London audiences for opera, and provide information which will be of genuine business value for ETO’.

Creativeworks London is a research hub set up specifically to bring together London’s creative industries with its research community. The hub brings together 38 London-based universities, colleges, museums, libraries and archives, exploring areas such as entrepreneurial development, emerging markets, new ways of engaging London’s diverse audiences, and the development of digital resources and media content.

BOOST is a follow on award available to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and researchers who have previously benefited from Creativeworks London funding. The award scheme aims to provide support to such organisations to further develop or commercialise their ideas through collaborative research projects, with an overall aim of making a positive impact on London’s creative economy.

ETO seeks participants for new opera project at Hampton Court Palace

16th April 2015

Participants rehearsing for a previous community project at Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace and ETO are inviting community groups to create and perform a new opera at the palace’s Great Hall in November 2015.

Termed Sing 500, the event forms part of Hampton Court Palace’s 500th birthday celebrations, and is its first large-scale community initiative for adults.

The Sing 500 project is open to non-professional groups in Richmond, Kingston, Elmbridge and Hounslow, and will see participants visit the palace throughout the summer and autumn to take part in creative workshops, culminating in a performance in November.

Hampton Court Palace is inviting interested parties to attend an information day at the palace on Tuesday, April 28 from 6pm to 7.30pm. To find out more, email Kim Klug, Learning Producer, at, call 020 3166 6630, or click here to visit the palace’s website.

Life on the Moon shortlisted for Manchester Theatre Award

20th January 2015

English Touring Opera has been shortlisted for the Opera category in the 2015 Manchester Theatre Awards for the company’s recent production of Haydn’s Life on the Moon.

The nominations, which were announced earlier today, cover 20 different categories, and the winners are being announced at a ceremony on stage at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester on Friday 13 March.

Life on the Moon was performed at Buxton Opera House as part of ETO’s Autumn 2014 national tour, which also included a new production of Handel’s Ottone.

Director Cal McCrystal brought his wide-ranging experience in circus comedy to the production, which was dubbed “terrific fun” by The Guardian, and praised as a “fast-moving yet elegant comedy” in a review by the Manchester Theatre Awards website itself.

The award nominations were chosen by a panel of 11 of the region’s leading theatre critics, and ETO is vying for the Opera award alongside Buxton Festival’s recent production of Dvořák’s comedy The Jacobin, and three recent productions by Opera North: Götterdämmerung, The Coronation Of Poppea and The Girl Of The Golden West.

All nominees are invited, as well as celebrity guests who are presenting the trophies.

A limited number of audience tickets are also available for the awards ceremony, from the RNCM website.

ETO returns to Buxton Opera House later in 2015 with new productions of Puccini’s La Bohème on Thursday 14 and Saturday 16 May, and Donizetti’s The Wild Man of the West Indies on Friday 15 May.

ETO wins prize from Legacy10 Award for Excellence

3rd December 2014

ETO wins “Highly Commended” prize from Legacy10 Award for Excellence

We are delighted to announce that David Burgess (Head of Partnerships and Development) and ETO have been awarded a “Highly Commended” prize as part of the 2014 Legacy10 Awards for Excellence.

The Legacy10 Awards for Excellence were set up to recognise those who have contributed to legacy giving in the UK through innovation and delivery, and was open to all legacy fundraisers working for a registered UK charity.

Susan Hughes, Legacies Manager at the V&A Museum, won the national award, and Rosalyn Leclecq, Legacy Officer at the Essex Wildlife Trust, won the regional award.

ETO was one of five shortlisted organisations. The Awards were decided by a panel comprising senior experts in the fields of philanthropy, business and the media. The panel was chaired by Legacy10 founder and Chairman Roland Rudd.

Legacy10 is a campaigning organisation launched in the autumn of 2011 in order raise awareness of the Government’s changes to inheritance tax which came into force in April 2012. Since that date, anyone who leaves at least 10% of their wealth to charity will have their inheritance tax bill reduced from 40% to 36%.

You can find out more about leaving a legacy to English Touring Opera here

Click here for more information about the Legacy10 campaign.

James Conway nominated for UK Theatre Award

25th September 2014

James Conway in rehearsal for ETO’s Spring 2014 production of King Priam. Photo by Bill Knight.

ETO’s General Director James Conway has been nominated for a 2014 UK Theatre Award, in the ‘Achievement in Opera’ category.

Run by industry body UK Theatre, the awards are intended to recognise outstanding achievements by regional companies.

The other nominees in the ‘Achievement in Opera’ category are Richard Farnes, Opera North’s Music Director, for his conducting of three of ON’s recent productions, and Welsh National Opera’s Chorus for their performance in Moses und Aron.

The full list of nominees in all categories can be viewed on UK Theatre’s site here.

The 2014 UK Theatre Awards ceremony takes place on Sunday 19 October at the Guildhall in London.

James Conway is directing a new production of Handel’s Ottone as part of ETO’s Autumn 2014 season. The production is currently in rehearsal and opens on Saturday 18 October at Hackney Empire, before touring across England until late November.

James is also directing two operas for ETO in Spring 2015 – a new production of Puccini’s La bohème and a revival of ETO’s acclaimed 2013 production of Donizetti’s The Siege of Calais. Both shows tour the UK from March to May 2015.

Remember a Charity week

5th September 2014

This September, English Touring Opera is proudly supporting the fifth annual Remember A Charity Week. Running from 8th –14th September 2014, the week aims to inspire people in the UK to think about leaving a charitable gift in their Will.

During the week we will be talking about the different ways legacy donations can help ensure that ETO can continue to create high quality live opera for generations to come.

Legends aren’t just fictional characters. There’s a legend in all of us

A number of people have already pledged to leave a gift to ETO in their Will. One such person is Chris Ball. You can read more about Chris and the reasons he has decided to leave a legacy to ETO in the “Remember A Charity” supplement in this weekend’s Daily Telegraph.

If you would like to read more about how legacies benefit our work, and for more information on leaving a legacy to ETO, please visit our Leaving a Legacy page

Olivier Award-winning opera returns to Blackpool in Spring 2015

5th August 2014

Interior of The Grand Theatre, Blackpool. Photo credit: Sean Conboy

We are pleased to announce that in May 2015, English Touring Opera will return to The Grand Theatre, Blackpool for our first performances at the theatre in ten years.

We are performing our new Italian-language production one of the most popular operas in the repertoire, Puccini’s La bohème (Mon 11 May). This is paired with a revival of our 2013 hit, Donizetti’s The Siege of Calais, a thrilling and heartbreaking opera based on a story from the reign of Edward III and the Hundred Years’ War (Tue 12 May).

ETO has not visited the North West region since 2009, and Blackpool since 2005. Recognising a need to address this as part of our mission to offer a varied repertoire of high-quality productions to audiences across the whole country, the return to Blackpool comes after several years of searching for an appropriate partner venue.

ETO’s Head of Marketing, John Holmes, who was born and raised in Lancashire, said,
“In the years we’ve not been coming to the North West, we’ve always felt it was a big gap in our touring schedule, especially as several of the ETO team are from the North West, and dearly wanted to bring our operas back to the region. The Grand is as beautiful theatre as we’ll ever get to play, and it’s a perfect environment for all the thrills, sensations and intensity of a top class opera performance.”

Ruth Eastwood, Chief Executive of The Grand Theatre, Blackpool, said,
“It’s our mission to give audiences a wide range of experiences to enjoy in the theatre, and opera is very much part of that. I’m delighted to welcome English Touring Opera, so that people from Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre can enjoy Olivier Award-winning opera without having to go all the way to Manchester or London to see it.”

New research suggests work needs to be done before cinema broadcasts bring in new audiences for opera

27th May 2014

The emerging trend for large opera companies to broadcast their work in cinemas is not yet creating a new generation of opera-goers, according to new research commissioned by English Touring Opera (ETO) into audiences for opera cinema broadcasts.

However, existing opera audiences highly value the opportunity to see productions that are geographically and financially out of reach, often enjoying a sense of participation and shared experience similar to live events.

The research, conducted by ETO and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and funded by Creativeworks London, surveyed 234 people attending live broadcasts of opera in cinemas in London from October and December, 2013.

(Click here to download a copy of the research working paper.)

The research gives an insight into what audiences think of many aspects of opera in cinema, including what attracts them to attend and what they like or dislike about the experience.

It found that 81% of cinema opera attendees were over 60 years old, with an age profile slightly older than that typically found at live opera.

In addition, the study indicates that attending a cinema broadcast of opera does not regularly inspire cinema-goers to attend live opera in a theatre, with 85% of respondents reporting no increased motivation to attend live after their cinema experience.

Views are split among audiences, with three main positions: there is nothing like live opera; cinema is a good alternative to live opera; and that cinema opera is a new art form in itself, offering something new and equally valuable as the live experience.

In further interviews, some respondents expressed a belief that cinema had the potential to create new opera audiences, but do not believe this is happening yet.

ETO’s general director James Conway said: “A lot has been speculated about the potential for cinema relays to create new audiences for live opera. I would love that to be the case but, as this research indicates, it may be wishful thinking.

“What is sure is that access to digital opera performance has changed quickly, and producers of opera will need to respond with some intelligence to an environment that has not transformed, but has certainly shifted.

“This partnership with the Guildhall School and Creativeworks London has been vital as ETO starts to formulate its response to these changes and our future business development.”

Funder Creativeworks London brings together creative businesses and academic institutions based in London to increase growth in the creative economy.

The lead researcher is Professor John Sloboda, director of the Guildhall School’s Understanding Audiences research programme, and the report is by Dr Karen Wise, research associate at the Guildhall School.

Inside Opera: Live - On tour with English Touring Opera

12th May 2014

On Saturday, 10 May Inside Opera: Live broadcast from the Grand Opera House in Leeds, giving exclusive behind the scenes access to seven of the UK’s biggest opera companies.

If you’ve ever wondered how we put an ETO show on the road, watch our Opera that Moves film, which was specially-commissioned for the day. It follows a week of ETO performances at the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham with soprano Abigail Kelly, production manager Marius Ronning and staff director Dafydd Hall Williams.

Find out more about what people thought of Inside Opera: Live on Twitter: click here.

Live streaming day to offer unprecedented access to seven UK opera companies on 10 May

29th April 2014

Inside Opera: Live, four hours of live-streaming, will see seven of the UK’s opera companies join forces to offer unprecedented behind the scenes access on Saturday 10 May.

The number of participating organizations means that the event is a first for the arts, with English National Opera, English Touring Opera, Northern Ireland Opera, Opera North, The Royal Opera, Scottish Opera and Welsh National Opera coming together to celebrate the art form as part of the annual European Opera Days weekend. The event is particularly designed to reach anyone who is new to opera.

The day will be hosted from the Grand Theatre in Leeds as Opera North prepares for performances of Puccini’s La bohème. The packed afternoon will feature behind-the-scenes footage from all participating companies, live interviews with singers and directors, live links to rehearsals and community-based activities.

Inside Opera: Live will be streamed on YouTube at from 14:00-18:00 BST on 10 May 2014.

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