Daniel Kramer promises one ENO musical a year

Daniel Kramer. Photo: Tristram Kenton Daniel Kramer. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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New English National Opera artistic director Daniel Kramer has revealed plans to include a musical in every season, claiming the move would help generate audiences for opera.

Kramer was speaking at the launch of ENO’s new 2016/17 season, and spoke for the first time about taking up his new post, which will see him programme work from 2018/19.

He said his aim as the new artistic leader of the company, replacing John Berry who left last year, was to programme work that would “magnetise” audiences.

As part of this he said there would be an operetta or two each year, such as The Pirates of Penzance, describing them as “fantastic for crossover audiences”.

He added: “I do intend to explore one musical a year, partially because opera houses around the world are seeing that one musical a year can help get in a diverse audience that might then cross over [to opera]. But this will not become a musical theatre house. Core opera productions are the basis of what we will be doing.”

Kramer also revealed plans for music events, such as one-off concerts, and opening the London Coliseum up for events on Sundays.

He said his goal was to create “new and refreshing relationships”.

Kramer also discussed his desire to develop new talent across the board, from performers and composers to technical crew and wigmakers.

“I want to work with as many new directors as I can. I have a list of 12 already who I could pack two seasons with,” he added.

The director admitted that ENO had been through a “very hard year”, describing it as a “trauma of sorts”, in reference to a cut in funding and the recent threat of strike action from chorus members.

Speaking at the event, chief executive Cressida Pollock praised Kramer as a man who understood that the company needed to “heal together”.

She acknowledged that the year had been “extremely difficult” and “testing”, claiming that dealing with a reduction in funding from Arts Council England while trying to grow audiences had been a challenge.

However, she praised the chorus members for accepting a new deal that would help the company survive.

Talking about musical theatre at ENO, she said Sunset Boulevard had seen more than 90,000 come to watch the production, and revealed producers Michael Grade and Michael Linnit would stage another musical next year, which has yet to be announced.

She echoed Kramer’s belief that staging musicals could bring in new audiences to opera.