10-night opera scrapped in Blackpool amid costs fears

ENO The Mikado
ENO The Mikado
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A 10-night run of a much-vaunted opera at the Winter Gardens has been scrapped.

The English National Opera was earmarked to perform The Mikado at the Blackpool venue next year.

But after being beset by planning and financial issues, producers have now decided to cancel the run, which was originally mooted to take place this spring before it was postponed.

Tourism bosses are said to be very disappointed after the English National Opera (ENO) pulled the plug on the show.

The Gazette understands only provisional dates for the show were agreed with the ENO which still announced the booking despite no confirmed deal being in place.

A spokesman for the English National Opera said: “We have been in discussions with Blackpool Council and with the Winter Gardens to confirm new dates for ENO’s postponed performances of The Mikado.

“We have discussed a number of different options and all parties have worked hard to try to confirm a feasible date and budget for these performances.

“The Arts Council has recently shared with us their serious concerns regarding future levels of arts funding available to local authorities.

“Given that this project was to be underwritten by funding from Blackpool Council, in the current economic climate we consider that it is unwise for us to continue to develop this project.

“We are therefore no longer working on presenting The Mikado to Blackpool in 2017/18.

“Instead, we are investigating alternative partnerships for our summer work that can make the best use of our resources, and that continue to share more of our opera with the widest possible audience.

“We look forward to announcing our projects for Summer ’18 and several new partnerships which will present ENO to new audiences going forward.”

A Blackpool Council spokesman said: “We’re naturally disappointed that this show will not happen, as we feel it could have done very well in Blackpool.

“Our events and show schedule for the year ahead is still extremely strong and varied and we will continue to work to bring the best talent to perform in the resort in the future.”

The spokesman did not clarify what the council’s funding obligations were for the show.

The 10-night run was originally pencilled in for May this year but had to be postponed, despite being widely publicised, when the company did not follow through with the booking.

Winter Gardens bosses received approaches from other producers for the dates, with ENO saying The Mikado had been postponed to an unspecified date in 2018.

The Mikado was to see the ENO chorus - which went on strike over pay and conditions last year - perform together in what may have proved a costly exercise to transport the full staging to Blackpool.

The ENO is having its public subsidy cut from £17.4m to £12.3m.