9 September 2019: English National Opera (ENO) has announced a new scheme – ENO Response – to help find and develop the talent of future opera critics.

ENO are inviting 10 individuals from the general public to participate in ENO Response for the 2019/20 season. This is a further step in ENO’s commitment to developing talent across all areas of the art form. Applicants of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to apply to ENO Response – the only criteria is that they must not have been previously published or paid for their writing.

The 10 people will be provided with one free ticket for each of the 10 productions that make up the 2019/20 season and will be asked to submit an independent review of the opera within 48 hours of attending.

ENO are collaborating with Lucy Basaba, founder and editor of theatre website Theatre Full Stop, who will provide writing advice and feedback over the course of the season.

The reviews submitted for each opera by the 10 participants of the scheme will be published on the ENO website and promoted through ENO’s social media channels to give the writers exposure and help build their profiles. All reviews will be completely impartial and published unedited.

To be able to provide tickets for this scheme, ENO will be giving existing opera critics just 1 complimentary ticket per production, rather than 2. They will be able to purchase a ticket at full price if they would like to attend with a guest.

Stuart Murphy, CEO, ENO said: “Brilliant, informed and passionate critics are as invaluable to the industry as the performers, composers, musicians and hundreds of others behind the scenes in an opera house. A great critic can draw out meaning you missed, be a champion, a provocateur and a critical friend, and take you on emotional journeys as whimsical, moving, disturbing or humorous as the work they are responding to.

“However, there remain relatively few opportunities to grow the next generation of commentators of the form. As ENO is committed to talent development in every area, we feel a responsibility to help nurture these next generation of writers. We hope these new perspectives will complement those from our experienced hands and look forward to the latter sharing their wisdom with the former as they sit next to one another in the house. It goes without saying that going forward established critics are more than welcome to bring as many paying additional guests as they wish.”

ENO Response also builds on the work of ENO Baylis’ Youth Programme which provides a platform for young people to express their ideas, develop their critical thinking and creative voice, and connect with professionals working in the industry.

One of the 10 vacancies on the scheme is to be filled by an alumni of ENO Baylis’ Youth Programme.

Lucy Basaba of Theatre Full Stop said: “There is no set formula for what makes a compelling review, however the reviewer must be able to capture the mood of an opera quickly and concisely - showing an awareness of the show’s context and director’s vision. They will be able to articulate whether they feel the production is apt for our times as well as provide constructive feedback. I am excited to work with ENO on this new initiative to help develop the talents of opera critics of the future.”

Those who would like to be considered should submit an example of a review of a recent theatrical production (no more than 800 words) to response@eno.org, with their name, headshot and introductory covering letter by 20 September – an internal panel at ENO will then select nine further participants for the season ahead.


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