Oct 4 - The English National Opera has launched a fresh initiative, fronted by former Blur singer Damon Albarn, to attract new and younger audiences to an art form it acknowledged was still seen by many as the preserve of the old and wealthy. Edward Baran reports.
In the UK he's a household name thanks to his domination of the mid-nineties charts. Now former Blur frontman Damon Albarn wants to bring some of that light-hearted spirit to the world of opera, and in the process attract more younger fans. He's backing a drive by the English National Opera to attract new audiences to an art form seen by many as the preserve of old, wealthy, not to mention expensively-dressed patrons. SOUNDBITE (English) Musician Damon Albarn, saying: "People are people, whether they're wearing bow ties or jeans, those emotions should be exactly the same. I think that's all just an exterior thing. So in a sense I don't think you need to worry too much about what you're wearing, just feel it. And how do you get a new generation to feel opera in a way an older generation has." Albarn's own operatic work "Dr Dee" was part if the English National Opera's last season and attracted 60 percent of new ticket buyers. But could one of the biggest names in British pop ever see operatic works entering the charts? SOUNDBITE (English) Musician Damon Albarn, saying: "Music hates, the spirit of music hates being put into boxes, it just despises it. It wants to just be everywhere and reveal itself in the most unexpected places. It's not to be caged so in that sense yes, why not." English National Opera's initiative 'Undress for the Opera' will offer cut-price tickets for the best seats in the house at four designated nights during its new season in London.