Thursday, March 10, 2005


He might have been trying to make a positive point (that taking the English National Opera to Glastonbury opened the company up to new audiences) but the wording of Martin Smith, ENO's chairman, doesn't reflect well upon him: Glasto-goers, apparently, "never heard of or hardly knew how to spell opera". Smith is merchant banker; oddly, his career is also merchant banker. He droned on:

"[The audience] were completely and utterly rivetted by it. It has to lead us down the path of saying, what is it about the organisation that is inhibiting us from reaching those people who clearly have the capacity to respond and listen ... if they really understood it and knew what was going on?"

Even a member of his own opera company could see what was wrong with this:

"How incredibly patronising. That audience was as switched on as anyone could be. They were very intense. They got it."

The ENO has been in trouble for a good number of years; perhaps having a chairman who assumes the Glasto audience are a bunch of ignorant drones could be a reason why.

Personally, we'd recommend the '94 Glyndebourne Le Nozze di Figaro. Even though the audiences there tend to be more interested in the picnics than the music.