The English National Opera (ENO) is to relocate outside London, following the Arts Council decision to cut its grant to ‘less than zero’. The expectation was that ENO would move ‘Oop North’ to help deliver the levelling up agenda. The government clearly felt that a bit more singing would secure all those blue wall votes. Although the government did appear to have overlooked the existing opera company called Opera North.
The ENO has made little progress on finding a new home in The North. A move to Enfield was ruled out as being not far north enough. A spokesman said that they were told that a move to Enfield wasn't far enough north. A deal with an operator in Scunthorpe for a purpose-built Opera & Kebab venue (provisionally called Prima Doner) had fallen through. Plans to re-home the ENO on the former Doncaster greyhound track also collapsed and ideas about a drive-thru opera house in Wigan suffered a similar fate. A spokesman said that opera is phenomenally expensive to do properly – customers expect spectacle, loud music and extravagant costumes to compensate for all the screechy singing, which is unintelligible as it’s all in foreign.
A spokesman for the ENO said that the relocation away from London is essentially political. In view of that, the ENO is now considering moving to Rwanda. The advantages of this are access to large new audiences, including many relocating from Britain (both voluntarily and involuntary), good weather for outdoor performances, very low costs and alignment with the government’s policy that Rwanda is safe, secure, tolerant and much better than Scunthorpe.
The ENO is singing the praises of Rwanda. It believes that the move will allow a dramatic and exciting re-imagination of its cultural, societal and business models in a very blue-sky, envelope-pushing and outside-the-box kind of a way. “This will put all those complaints about the mints in the Coliseum changing rooms into perspective,’ sniggered a spokesperson.
In order to deliver maximum embarrassment to the government, the ENO plans an outreach programme to train asylum seekers to sing opera. And there are plans for a new TV shows provisionally called Rwanda’s Got Talent, I’m an Opera Singer, Get Me Out Of Here, Police Camera Opera, and My 600 Pound Opera Singer. The spokesperson said, ‘If the government won’t change it’s tune on funding, then no matter. We have lots of options. It ain’t over until the traditionally built person sings.’