ENO and ROH Must Share Stage to Save Cash
Date: 4 November 1997
Culture Secretary Chris Smith shocked the arts world yesterday with the announcement of plans to bring together the English National Opera and the Royal Opera together under one roof with the Royal Ballet. The move is in response to deepening debts - in excess of £5m a piece - and accusations of financial and artistic mismanagement which the rival houses currently face. As part of the plans, the Royal Opera House would be renamed Covent Garden and the London Coliseum, the ENO's present home, would cease to be a national opera house once the ROH venue is re-opened in 1999 following its £213m redevelopment. The three companies would take turns occupying the London base and tour the country at other times. Sir Richard Eyre, former artistic director of the National Theatre, has been appointed to head a group studying the feasibility of the proposal. Smith has come under fierce criticism for the plan which many fear will jeopardise the integrity and independence of the companies and diminish the status of London as a world-class centre for the arts.
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