ENO looking to be set up in new northern base by March 2029

Evening gowns and binoculars at the ready - the English National Opera is moving to Manchester.

The prestigious opera company, based in the London Coliseum, has decided on Manchester as its base for future productions outside the capital. 

This follows the agreement reached with Arts Council England in July where £24m was awarded to ENO to enable the organisation to develop an artistic programme in a new base outside of London during the 2024-26 period. 

Following a transition to this new business model over the next two years, ENO will then have a base within Greater Manchester by 2029.

While ENO will continue its opera season every year at the London Coliseum, this announcement of a new base in Manchester comes as great news for the city.

Greater Manchester’s world-renowned history of radical art and the cultural renaissance taking place across our towns and cities makes it the ideal home for the ENO

The question is, where will this base be?

The smart money would perhaps be on Aviva Studios, what with Factory International needing to fill the programme of its £242m arts centre. 

A more traditional choice would maybe be The Bridgewater Hall or, even more traditionally, Manchester Opera House with its near-2000 seat capacity. 

While the new northern base is yet to be announced, the decision has been met with widespread praise from the city's political and cultural leaders. Why wouldn't it be?

2023 12 05 Eno Mcr Move London Coliseum Interior
The grand interior of the London Coliseum, but where in Manchester could house ENO? Image: ENO

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “The ENO is one of the most exciting cultural institutions in the country, and we’re immensely proud to be able to bring them to a new home here in Greater Manchester.

“We’ve worked closely with them to set out a shared vision for a future in our city-region, where they can continue making groundbreaking opera, foster new collaborations with artists across the North, and bring their award-winning learning and wellbeing programmes to communities here.

“Greater Manchester’s world-renowned history of radical art, activism, and affecting change, and the cultural renaissance taking place across our towns and cities, makes it the ideal home for the ENO. We can’t wait to welcome them and see where this new partnership takes us.”

2023 12 05 Eno Mcr Move London Coliseum Interior 2
The grand interior of the London Coliseum, but where in Manchester could house ENO? Image: ENO

While Manchester is a city of many cultural firsts and institutions, opera is perhaps not something often associated with the city, and its announcement as the new ENO base seems to speak to another example of it being seen as a cultural capital.

It also offers Mancunians the opportunity to see productions they might not otherwise have been able to, as well as working opportunities for those in the region, according to Chief Executive of Arts Council England, Darren Henley. 

“This announcement is the culmination of months of hard work by the ENO," said Darren. “ENO’s new base is good news for the people of Greater Manchester. It means excellent opera performances for new audiences and new ways for young people here to experience and participate in opera. It will also bring new opportunities for creative and technical professionals in Greater Manchester to partner with a world-class organisation making innovative work.”

2023 12 05 Eno Mcr Move London Coliseum Exterior
London's Glamorous West End, could the ENO herald a Manchester equivalent? Image: ENO

Productions will be taking place from 2024-26, before the transition into its new northern home is complete in early 2029.

In the meantime, Confidentials will be brushing up on our contraltos and castratos and dusting off our evening gowns. 

For more information, and for upcoming productions, visit the ENO's website 

Main Image: Anthony Roth Costanzo in the title role of Philip Glass' Akhnaten at ENO (© Belinda Jiao)

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