London Coliseum_exterior.jpg
  • Music | Music venues
  • Covent Garden

London Coliseum

This grand Covent Garden opera house is the home of the ENO


Time Out says

A few years ago, the London Coliseum was having as much drama offstage as on; huge funding cuts, high-profile exits, and even strikes from the chorus made it a venue in turmoil. Today, the home of the English National Opera still isn't quite as secure in its status as the Royal Opera House, London's other leading opera venue. But under new boss Daniel Kramer's regime, it's considerably cooler.  

The American-born Kramer cut his teeth on the theatre scene as well as in European opera houses, and it shows in a programme that mixes returning opera classics and edgier experiments. There have been ambitious new commissions, and link-ups with contemporary artists like Anish Kapoor. ENO is also increasingly staging work outside its home at the Coliseum, and has put its considerable mite behind musical collabs with London theatres like The Gate, Wilton's Music Hall, and Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. 

But you'll still find the traditional bread-and-butter of the ENO's line-up in the Coliseum's vast 2,359-seat auditorium, which drips with gilt and Classical-inspired statues, and has four tiers of balconied seating under a lavish domed ceiling. Built as a grand music hall in 1904 by the renowned architect Frank Matcham, was restored to its former glory in 2004 as part of an £80 million restoration.

Unlike at the Royal Opera House, all works here are performed in English, making it an accessible intro the world of opera. Stalls seats are often formidably expensive, but there are some real bargains to be found in the vertiginous heights of the gallery. 


St Martin's Lane
Tube: Charing Cross
Opening hours:
Mon–Sat 10am–6pm , or later when a show is on
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What’s on

Spirited Away

3 out of 5 stars

‘Spirited Away’ is famously not the first of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated masterpieces to hit the London stage in the last two years. There is also, of course, the RSC’s ‘My Neighbour Totoro’, which has just announced a 2025 West End run after two sell out seasons at the Barbican.  Comparisons between the two Studio Ghibli adaptations are inescapable. But if ‘Totoro’ was ambitious, you have to admire the sheer gall of anyone even thinking of tackling ‘Spirited Away’.   Whereas ‘Totoro’ is a story of a limited number of supernatural creatures crossing over into a recognisable human world, ‘Spirited Away’ is about a young girl, Chihiro, who enters a fantastical realm entirely populated with wild spirit beings, from an emo dragon-boy to a colossal overgrown baby.  It’s a huge ask technically and to cut to the chase, this impressive but slightly starchy Anglo-Japanese Tokyo production – directed by John Caird and co-adapted with Maoko Imai – doesn’t pull it off with the same panache and feeling of ground being broken as ‘Totoro’.  Although Toby Olie’s puppets and Sachiko Nakahara’s costumes are vivid and impressive, they aren’t the absolute showstoppers that the RSC’s gargantuan, Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop-forged constructs are. And where all the spirits in ‘Totoro’ are puppets, ‘Spirited Away’ simply features too many characters to do that, and is reliant on human actors changing costumes a lot – sometimes it has the look and feel of an old fashioned song and dance spectacular.

  • Drama
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