This grand Covent Garden opera house is the home of the ENO
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.
|Venue name:||London Coliseum|
St Martin's Lane
|Opening hours:||Mon–Sat 10am–6pm , or later when a show is on|
|Transport:||Tube: Charing Cross|
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I was recently desperate to see Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard but, being a bit strapped for cash, I didn’t fancy blowing £100+ on a ticket. Enter the attractive £12.50 (+£1 fee) price I found available on the ENO website. “Restricted viewing” it said. “Restricted Leg Room” it said. I was fully prepared for this, but even then I was shocked at the seat I was given. I was on a curve so you could barely move one knee, thankfully the other could be directed in a way that gave it a little more room. The view was fine, amazing in fact for the price. But I’m seriously concerned for anyone other than a small child taking that seat in future. Please avoid, unless you have no other choice or happen to be a contortionist.
Not only is this one of the most stunning, buildings in London, swimming in a sea of timeless theatre wonder, it is also home to the English Natioanl Ballet. If you don't know much about Ballet, this company is a must see, seriously, get on down there now, tonight, tomorrow, this weekend, you can't go wrong!
Review of Eifman’s Ballet – “Anna Karenina”
Last Saturday, on the 19th of April 2014 I visited the London Coliseum to see a Russian Modern Ballet from St. Petersburg, “Anna Karenina”, created by Boris Eifman.
The hosting theatre – the London Coliseum, is full of that charming Art Nouveau atmosphere making much smoother this Time Passage from the Present to the 19th century tragic Russian story, created by Leo Tolstoy.
The ballet is based on the famous novel, “Anna Karenina”, and predominately concentrates on the love triangle between Anna, her conservative husband Karenin and the dashing Vronsky. It opens up in a burst of psychological energy making an indelible impression upon its viewers.
Every twisted and extremely expressive movement of Anna Karenina’s body leads the viewer from the peak of her love passion to the gradual degradation of her inner world, crushed by the same passion. Lovers’ souls and bodies are entwined in incredible harmony. The building up of their passion is expressed through the light and colors. Black, golden-grey and creamy white colors dominate the ballet’s pallet helping to communicatethe emotional mood of heroes together with the dark and the light sides of Anna’s soul.
Two beds: Anna’s marital couch and her lover’s “retreat” act as “supportive actors”, witnessing the development of the tragedy.
Anna and her husband’s acting is saturated with poses of rejection, prayers, grief, sorrows and anger. At the same time Anna and Vronsky’s bodies are entwined like branches of trees in complicated and amazingly smooth transformational poses. Lovers are in white, reminiscent of love doves. Anna’s silky night dress makes the gravity disappear under the ballerina’s feet, leaving her entirely in the power of her lover, whilst her black, mourning outfit pulls her to this “sinful” earth. Every gesture, turn or movement of the dancers is full of meaning. Their suppleness and flexibility are tested to the limit of a human body’s capability.
Condemning society, Anna’s husband, together with the male group of dancers, smeared in fuel oil and dirt represent the churning and rattling wheels of trains, , even her little son, all are dressed in black, mourning Anna’s destroyed inner world, anticipating her madness and sacrifice.
All this highly charged emotional performance is well accentuated by the minimum use of light, mostly spotlights combined with the ever moving music of Tchaikovsky.
This classical drama goes so well with the innovative, creative and very talented modern choreography of Eifman. It slowly reveals itself against the background of the romantic surroundings and the luxurious vintage interior of the London Coliseum, leaving the audience with an absolutely unforgettable experience. By Nadine Platt
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