ENO Response 23-24 Season

ENO Response is a training scheme for aspiring journalists and opera critics.

The ENO Response scheme is run in partnership by the ENO and The Critics’ Circle, across the ENO’s 2023/24 opera season at the London Coliseum.

ENO Response offers people with an ambition to be writers the opportunity to review world-class opera while receiving advice and feedback from industry mentors to help them develop and hone their craft.

This season, we are seeking 8-10 committed writers who wish to develop their critical skills. We’re actively encouraging applications from those who are underrepresented in opera and the arts industry.

The aim of the ENO Response scheme is to increase the range of voices and perspectives that contribute to opera’s national conversation, ensuring the audience gateway into opera is as wide as possible. It’s part of the ENO’s broad commitment as a leading arts organisation to develop talent across all areas of the art form – from singers, conductors, technicians, musicians and beyond. Applicants from across the UK are encouraged to apply, and reasonable travel expenses to and from reviewed performances will be reimbursed.

While we are looking for the widest range of people, some things are highly desirable; a strong interest in music, opera and/or theatre, an ability to communicate confidently through writing and an interest in developing a critical voice. While knowledge of opera isn’t essential, a desire and commitment to learn about it is.

How will it work?

Each participant will be provided with one free ticket to each of the ENO’s nine operas in the upcoming 2023/24 Season which opens mid-September 2023 and closes mid-March 2024 (key dates listed below). They will meet and network with fellow ENO Response participants and journalists at the opening nights.

After attending the opening night of an opera, participants will have 48 hours to submit a review. Each participant will be partnered with mentors from The Critics’ Circle to receive tailored feedback on their writing across the season. It will be up to the participant and their mentor to schedule an hour-long Zoom (or similar) mentoring session after each review has been submitted, to receive feedback on their writing and discuss the opera.

The participants and mentors will have two weeks to conduct their mentoring session in which the mentor may suggest edits to the participants’ reviews. Once this session has taken place, the participants will send their updated review back to the ENO where it will be published on the ENO website. All reviews will be published unedited by the ENO. The ENO won’t have – and has never had – any say in the content of the reviews.

Alongside the mentoring sessions, participants will have the chance to take part in group masterclasses led by opera creatives, editors and critics in the industry. These sessions are a chance for the participants to gain a broader understanding of how an opera reaches the stage, the journalism industry, and the skills needed to write critically. All mentoring and broader group sessions will be conducted online.

At the end of the scheme, the participants will have filed nine reviews within the deadlines, and these will be presented on the ENO website. This is a unique opportunity for participants to build a portfolio of work.

Find out more about ENO Response

Who are The Critics’ Circle?

The Critics’ Circle has existed since 1913 to protect and promote cultural criticism, with the critics of the national papers as the original core of its membership. The Critics’ Circle today has 490 members shared between theatre, music, film, dance, visual arts and books. ENO Response is conducted in partnership with the music section of the Circle, made up of over 90 of the country’s most respected music writers and critics.


Personal Criteria:

  • We encourage applicants from all backgrounds to apply.
  • Applicants must be over the age of 18 (and up to 118!).
  • Applicants must have a demonstrable interest in the performing arts and/or music, but prior knowledge or experience in these fields is not a requirement.
  • The applicants’ work must not have been previously published professionally, and applicants should not have been paid for their writing by any publication. However personal blogs, student publications and social media are permitted.
  • All applicants should have a commitment to writing and a keen interest in pursuing a career/side hustle in journalism or criticism.
  • To get the most out of the ENO Response programme, applicants must be prepared to dedicate time to learning about music and opera, and attending all nine operas, mentoring sessions and masterclasses.
  • Please note, this is a career development and training scheme, not a paid position, although reasonable travel expenses to and from reviewed performances will be covered.

Applicants will be required to attend the opening night of all nine operas on the following dates:

If you are unable to attend the opera on opening night due to a prior commitment, we are able to make exceptions and book you into an alternative performance during the run. However, it is preferable to attend the press nights listed below to soak up the full journalistic experience. 

  • Peter Grimes – Thursday 21 September (19.00)
  • Iolanthe – Thursday 5 October (19.00)
  • La traviata – Monday 23 October (19.30)
  • 7 Deaths of Maria Callas – Friday 3 November (19.30)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale – Thursday 1 February (19.30)
  • The Barber of Seville – Monday 12 February (19.00)
  • The Magic Flute – Wednesday 28 February (19.00)
  • Jenůfa – Wednesday 13 March (19.30)
  • Duke Bluebeard’s Castle – Thursday 21 March (19.30)

More information on the ENO’s 2023/24 Season

Testimonials from past Responders:

Leah, 2022/23 Season: ‘ENO Response is an amazing opportunity to build on your portfolio and learn about a career in arts journalism first-hand. ENO’s varied season also opened my mind to opera as an art form, and I look forward to going to more performances in the future!’

Patrick, 2021/22 Season: ‘Huge fun and massively educational. I learnt a lot and got to see some marvellous opera.’

Daniel, 2021/22 Season: ‘Response was one of the most rewarding experiences I had while at university. It has had a hugely formational influence on my writing and I’d highly recommend it!’

Carol, 2021/22 Season: ‘If you are interested in writing, this is the scheme to do. Fantastic mentors, great opportunities and unforgettable music all in one.’

How to apply:

If you wish to apply to be a part of the ENO Response scheme, please submit:

  1. A short cover letter telling us: who you are and why you would like to take part in ENO Response. In this letter, please include where you are based in the UK and how you would travel to the London Coliseum* (maximum of 250 words).
  2. A recent theatre, music or opera review you have written (maximum 250 words).
  3. A completed Equality and Diversity Monitoring Form.

*We encourage applicants from across the UK to apply, so this information will not be used as a part of the selection process.

Please send these to: [email protected], with the subject line: ENO Response.

Closing Date: Sunday 13 August 2023, 11:59pm

Successful applicants will be contacted the week of the 28 August 2023.