ENO launches worldwide search for opera creators

Sarah Kirkup6th Mar 2012
Nico Muhly: one of the judges of the composer category in ENO's competitionNico Muhly: one of the judges of the composer category in ENO's competition (photo: Samantha West/Chester Novello)

English National Opera is launching Mini Operas, a worldwide, online search for scriptwriters, composers and film-makers that aims to preserve and redefine the future of opera. From March 26, three competitions will appeal to talented individuals in the three fields fundamental to opera-making, overseen by Will Self (scriptwriting), Nico Muhly (composing) and Terry Gilliam (film-making). The competition will run in three rounds with the second and third rounds inspired by the 10 final entries from the previous stage.

First up are budding scriptwriters, who will be invited to create scripts based on example storylines provided by Will Self, AL Kennedy and Neil Gaiman. Later in the year, the 10 scriptwriter finalists will provide inspiration for the composer round, which, again, will result in 10 finalists, chosen by Muhly and ENO music director Edward Gardner. At this point, the film-making round will begin, judged by film legend and director of ENO’s The Damnation of Faust, Terry Gilliam.

The competition reaches its final stage at the British Film Institute in the autumn, when several of the 10 'mini operas' will be presented. At the event, Gilliam will pick one overall winner from each category. Each of the lucky three will be mentored by a leader in his or her chosen field: writer and director Jeremy Sams, composer Nico Muhly and Leo Warner, who has produced visuals for the National Theatre and Metropolitan Opera.

Said Terry Gilliam: ‘Opera is really, really hard to do well. I know. I want people to find it out for themselves. I’ll be judging, and I want to find future stars who can work with this ridiculous, stupefying, insane, wonderful art form. Good on ENO for trying to find anyone mad enough to have a go.’

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