English National Opera (ENO) is an opera company based in London, resident at the London Coliseum in St. Martin's Lane. It is one of the two principal opera companies in London, along with The Royal Opera, Covent Garden. ENO's productions are sung in English.
The company's origins were in the late 19th century, when the philanthropist Emma Cons, later assisted by her niece Lilian Baylis, presented theatrical and operatic performances at the Old Vic in a rough area of London for the benefit of local people. From those beginnings, Baylis built up both the opera and the theatre companies, and later added a ballet company; these evolved into the ENO, the Royal National Theatre and the Royal Ballet.
Baylis acquired and rebuilt Sadler's Wells theatre in north London, a larger house, better suited to opera than the Old Vic. The opera company grew there into a permanent ensemble in the 1930s. During the Second World War, the theatre was closed and the company toured British towns and cities. After the war, the company returned to its home, but it continued to expand and improve, and by the 1960s a larger theatre was needed. In 1968, the company moved to the London Coliseum in the heart of London; in 1974 it adopted the name English National Opera (ENO). The company has survived several proposals to merge it with The Royal Opera.
Among the conductors associated with the company have been Colin Davis, Reginald Goodall, Charles Mackerras, Mark Elder and Edward Gardner. ENO is known for its emphasis on the dramatic aspect of opera, with productions, sometimes controversial, by directors including David Pountney, Jonathan Miller, Nicholas Hytner, Phyllida Lloyd and Calixto Bieito. In addition to the core operatic repertoire, ENO has presented a wide range of works, from early operas by Monteverdi to new commissions, operetta and Broadway shows.
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