Damon Albarn backs drive to find younger opera fans

Wed Oct 3, 2012 8:49am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - The English National Opera launched a fresh initiative on Wednesday to attract new and younger audiences to an art form it acknowledged was still seen by many as the preserve of old and wealthy patrons.

"Undress for the Opera" has the backing of former Blur frontman Damon Albarn, whose operatic work "Dr. Dee" was part of the ENO's 2011/12 season and attracted 60 percent of new ticket buyers.

Albarn, one of the biggest names in British pop, hesitated to call Dr. Dee an opera, reflecting the suspicion with which the art form is viewed by many.

"I don't really know what to call it," Albarn told reporters at the ENO's Coliseum theatre in central London.

"I struggle with the word opera because it's quite clear that I'm sort of swimming in deep water when I ever mention that word, so I try and avoid it."

American-born film director Terry Gilliam, who directed Berlioz's "The Damnation of Faust" at the ENO last year and is planning to work with the company again, also backed the new drive to find opera converts.

"I suppose I'm trying to bring in people like myself who didn't go to opera when they were younger, because I thought it was just for a bunch of old farts and a lot of bourgeoisie and people in dinner jackets," he said in a filmed interview.

"It was an art for the rich and the successful and the almost dead."   Continued...

Damon Albarn from British band Blur performs as part of the London 2012 Olympic Games closing celebrations at Hyde Park, London, August 12, 2012. REUTERS/Ki Price