Are musicals the new opera?

English National Opera's new Opera Guide lists sixty-one performances between April and July next year. Twenty-two of the performances are of three operas, Philip Glass' Satyagraha, Benjamin Britten's Death in Venice and Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito, and thirty-two them are of two musicals, Bernstein's On The Town (ENO production shot above) and Robert Wright & George Forrest’s Kismet.

For some personal memories of Leonard Bernstein take An Overgrown Path to Simply chic symphonies?
With thanks to the letter by Stewart Trotter in today's
Independent for the heads-up. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk


Garth Trinkl said…
I didn't know that the London Coliseum was, according to your "Kismet" link, the premier venue for big American musicals in the 1940s and 1950s. I am also intrigued that "Kismet" will run 19 consecutive performances -- a first for the ENO (according to your link) -- next June and July. I also recall back in the 1980s and 90s when the late May/early June spot now reserved for Britten's "Death in Venice" was reserved for the ENO annual British world premiere.

And with all due respect for Philip Glass's and Constance DeJong's generally beautiful "Satyagraha", I might be tempted to group this experimental American musical/opera in with the other two (initially, partially?) American musicals -- "On the Town" and "Kismet". By that count, 48 of the 61 ENO performances during the ENO's "forthcoming season" will be Broadway or Brooklyn Academy of Music musicals -- that is, almost 80 %.

I remember when New York City's "other Robert Wilson" -- as head of the Board of the New York City Opera -- insisted on winter or spring American musical interludes, but never, I believe, to the degree of 80% of performances offered. (I also hope that "Death in Venice" does much better at the ENO this coming May/June than it 'last' did the at the MET Opera when attendence, I believe, was below 70% or 65%. But again, don't material Guys and Dolls just wanna have a fun Night at the Opera?)
Pliable said…
Garth, I can remember going to see the movie of South Pacific when it first came out at the London Coliseum. I was a kid and went with my parents, I guess it was 1958 or 1959 as the movie was first released in 1958.

In those days the Coliseum had a widescreen - was it the Todd-AO format? I can still remember a short before the main feature of a rollercoaster ride that made your stomach turn, and I can still remember Mitzi Gaynor ...

I don't know if the Coliseum was a full time movie theatre in those days, or if it doubled as a venue for stage musicals.

That theatre has quite a history. My strongest memories are of the English language Ring and Mastersingers in the 70s with Reginald Goodall, performances that stay with me today.

Thanks for bringing back those memories.

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