English National Opera: 50 years at the Coliseum in pictures
As the English language opera company marks five decades of performing in residence at the London Coliseum, George Hall toasts some of its standout shows
In 1968, Sadler’s Wells Opera took the bold step of abandoning its Islington headquarters at Sadler’s Wells Theatre – its home since 1931 – and moving to the London Coliseum, the largest theatre in the West End.
Directed by John Gielgud, the opening production of Don Giovanni premiered on August 21, 1968. Thereafter the company steadily transferred shows built for Sadler’s Wells to the much larger stage, as well as launching productions specially conceived for the new venue. To prevent confusion, it was renamed English National Opera in 1974.
Over five decades, ENO has taken on the challenge of playing the large-scale repertory suited to its home in St Martin’s Lane, with such major successes as Wagner’s Ring Cycle conducted by Reginald Goodall in the early 1970s, productions of Janacek’s operas under Charles Mackerras, popular hits such as Jonathan Miller’s Rigoletto and The Mikado, and new works by Harrison Birtwistle and Philip Glass alongside operetta and musicals as part of a rich and diverse mix.