The company, which built its reputation on opera productions performed in English and is due to be relaunched this summer after a 75 million dollar refurbishment, will be reviving such musicals as Leonard Bernstein's On the Town and West Side Story. Also planned is a new musical about the Libyan dictator Colonel Gadaffi for which the British pop group Asian Dub Foundation has been commissioned to write the score. The gap between operas and musicals was made less distinct by the success of Jerry Springer, the Opera, a show whose songs are given aria status.
ENO artistic director Sean Doran reportedly warned that traditional opera is at risk of dying out. The company's plans come after the recent demise of the short-lived Savoy Opera, which was set up by impresario Raymond Gubbay and theatre owner Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen in the hope of finding new audiences for the art form. But after poor ticket sales, the venture closed last June.
When Savoy Opera was launched as London's third opera house, many observers felt that the ill-fated new company posed a threat to ENO.