English National Opera takes a cue from Toronto’s incubators of this ‘insane artform’


Terry Gilliam is one of the judges in English National Opera mini opera competition

English National Opera is borrowing from what is a mini industry for creating mini operas in Toronto. Last night, the company’s blog announced that ENO is launching an online competition.

Right around the same time that the blog entry was posted, ENO launched a new Mini Operas website. A press release embedded on the home page (currently the only one visible) was a repeat of the blog post.

Essentially, in March, the company will launch a three-part online competition that starts with picking a librettist, continues with a composer search and concludes with the selection of a filmmaker to turn the words and music into something worth watching on Vimeo.

Gaiman’s fellow judges are novelists Will Self and AL Kennedy, composer Nico Muhly and filmmaker Terry Gilliam. (If I were betting on what will get this crew’s attention, I’d go for dark and freaky). There are promised mentoring and development sessions along the way.

The composer-librettist process has been happening in Toronto since the 1990s, and has since been copied since in other opera-mad cities. Anybody who has been though Tapestry New Opera Works‘ longtime incubation process — or who is a member of The Toy Composers — has an immediate advantage, I hope.

The blog included this quote from Gilliam, who directed Faust for ENO a year ago: “Opera is really, really hard to do well. I know. I want people to find it out for themselves. I’ll be judging, and I want to find future stars who can work with this ridiculous, stupefying, insane, wonderful artform. Good on ENO for trying to find anyone mad enough to have a go.”

A few weeks ago, I was impressed by Opera Scenesters, a showcase of new mini operas presented by the Toy Piano Composers. Here is Crossword by Christian Floisand, sung by mezzo Marta Herman and baritone Jeremy Ludwig. Wesley Shen is at the piano.

John Terauds

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One thought on “English National Opera takes a cue from Toronto’s incubators of this ‘insane artform’

  1. Pingback: English National Opera ‘Mini Opera’ competition now open | Musical Toronto

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