Members of the ENO chorus in rehearsal, 1998
The chorus at the English National Opera has just voted for strike action in protest at proposals to cut four jobs and reduce the current year-long contracts for the remaining 40 singers to nine months. The cuts follow a 30% reduction in the ENO's annual Arts Council grant.
In 1998 I spent a very enjoyable three weeks dropping in on rehearsals for the ENO's world premiere of Gavin Bryars' Doctor Ox's Experiment, shooting backstage, in various rehearsal rooms and even, occasionally, on-stage, for a spread in Opera Now magazine. There's a lot of hanging around in rehearsals and I spent much of it in the very good company of the chorus. I don't know how many of today's strikers were there back then, but they were a diverse, humourous, and pleasingly stroppy bunch. I hope they win. More pictures here.
Director Atom Egoyan and the ENO chorus in rehearsal, 1998
Rehearsal for ENO's Doctor Ox's Experiment, 1998