The ENO believes their new version of La Bohème is Europe’s first drive-in opera.
When Annilese Miskimmon got the job as the new artistic director of the English National Opera, her remit was to broaden opera’s appeal and come up with new ways for audiences to experience it. She just never expected she’d have to do it quite so quickly, reports BBC Culture
Miskimmon joined the company this spring, just as the UK went into lockdown. In March, the ENO had just opened a new production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro when they were forced to halt performances in London’s Coliseum, and cancel not just that run - but their entire season. Theatres were closed indefinitely, and the outlook for 2020 seemed bleak. But Miskimmon had an idea.
On a Zoom call with her new colleagues - most of whom she’s still never met in person - she suggested a drive-in opera. “Everyone stopped for a minute, then immediately they went into talking about how we can make it happen,” she says.
Within weeks the ENO had announced Drive & Live, a production of Puccini’s La Bohème in the grounds of London’s Alexandra Palace, running across eight days from 19 September. The audience will watch from the safety of their cars and listen on individual Bluetooth speakers as singers and orchestra members put on a socially distanced performance unlike any they’ve done before.
“It’s going to be a completely original take on La Bohème, an immersive experience where the audience will feel part of a larger story,” Miskimmon tells BBC Culture. “It’s both exciting and challenging. It’s given a whole energy to both the company and the creatives working on it.”
Book through ENO Drive & Live