Mike Leigh makes opera debut directing Gilbert and Sullivan

English National Opera announces ambitious plans for 2014-15 season


Mike Leigh is to make his operatic directing debut next season with Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance.


His love of the British double-act’s work inspired his film Topsy Turvy, although in an interview with The Guardian in 1999, he said ‘there’s nothing I’d like to do less’ than direct one of their operas.

However, an evident change of heart sees Leigh jump on board for ENO’s Pirates production, following in the footsteps of fellow film directors Terry Gilliam and Mike Figgis. The new season also features Peter Sellars returning as ‘director in residence’ to create the first fully staged productions of Adams’s The Gospel According to the Other Mary and Purcell’s The Indian Queen.

These are three of eleven new productions announced by English National Opera, with the new season including Verdi’s Otello, Wagner’s The Mastersingers of Nuremberg and Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, all conducted by outgoing music director Edward Gardner. Two new operas will be staged: Tansy Davies’s Between Worlds is a 9/11 inspired work, while Joanna Lee has penned the company’s first opera for children –The Way Back Home, based on a book by Oliver Jeffers.


Bristol Old Vic is to welcome ENO for the first time, with its director Tom Morris, of War Horse fame, directing Monteverdi’s Orfeo. And in another first, musical theatre is to be staged at the London Coliseum.