ENO Response is a critics training scheme, funded by the English National Opera (ENO) and run impartially.
This year the ENO are partnering with the Critics’ Circle to relaunch ENO Response in conjunction with the 2021/22 opera season at the London Coliseum.
ENO Response offers aspiring writers the opportunity to review world-class opera whilst receiving writing advice and feedback from industry mentors to help them develop and hone their craft.
The aim 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 commitment as a leading arts organisation to develop talent across all areas of the art form.
This season, 11 members of the general public have been selected to take part in ENO Response. Each participant will be provided with one free ticket to all of the ENO’s seven operas in the upcoming season and they will be partnered with mentors from the Critics’ Circle to receive tailored feedback on their writing across the year.
After attending the opening night of an opera, participants will have 48 hours to submit their review. All reviews will be completely impartial and published on the ENO website unedited. The ENO won’t have – and has never had – any say in the content of their reviews. Participants will then meet with their mentor for an hour long one-to-one feedback session.
The ENO and Critics’ Circle will also be hosting a series of group discussions and Q&A sessions with industry professionals throughout the season to provide a broader understanding of the industry, critical writing and opera.
Who are the Critics Circle
The Critics’ Circle has existed since 1913 to protect cultural criticism and has always had the critics of the daily national papers as the core of its membership.
The Critics’ Circle today has 490 members shared between theatre, music, film, dance, visual arts and books.
Meet the 2021/22 Responders
Meet this season’s 11 ENO Response participants and find out why they applied to take part in this talent development scheme.
Alexander is 21 years old and is studying Msc Management at Imperial College Business School.
Alexander applied to ENO Response because he enjoys thinking critically about contemporary performing art. He is eager to reflect on the role of opera in 21st century society and spark conversations about its importance, the responsibility of creatives, and of the power of opera to inspire us to become better people.
Alexander is most excited to review The Handmaid’s Tale because he is eager to see how the production takes advantage of opera as a medium. He is a great admirer of Margret Atwood’s dystopian novel as well as the recent TV adaption.
Alex applied as a chance to see as much opera as he possibly could.
He’s 32, and manages a company creating sets and props for film and TV. He’s particularly looking forward to beginning Wagner’s Ring Cycle with The Valkyrie.
Carol is 28 and is currently studying for DPhil in Music Composition at the University of Oxford.
She began writing for a university newspaper during the lockdown and applied to ENO Response to learn more about critical writing in the arts. She is most looking forward to seeing The Handmaid’s Tale, as she is a fan of the book and TV series.
Dan is 21 and finished his undergraduate studies earlier this year.
He is living and working in London as a lifeguard (regularly) and writer (less regularly). He is excited to learn the ropes from such a knowledgeable pool of critic-mentors, and is particularly keen to tackle a real show-stopping operatic classic, Die Walküre.
Grace is 22 years old and works as a Studio Assistant for a design and digital agency.
With experience reviewing theatre, Grace is looking to expand her repertoire to include opera and, as a big believer in the accessibility of the arts, wants to carry through this attitude to everything she writes. Grace is particularly looking forward to seeing The Handmaid’s Tale: an opera that represents both her passion for the stage and, as a recent UCL literature graduate, her lifelong love of books.
Grace is 26 and is a part time Business Assistant, part time furniture maker.
Grace started out going to the opera with her parents and now she’s a bit older is keen to use the ENO Response scheme to develop critical faculties and gain confidence in voicing her opinions. Grace is very excited to delve into Margaret Atwood’s universe in The Handmaid’s Tale in April.
Maya Qassim is currently in the Upper Sixth, studying A-level Music, English Literature and History in North London.
From 2019 to 2021, she was in the ENO’s Youth Company, and hopes to expand her interests in Opera and Musicology in the ENO’s Response scheme, before studying Music at University.
Maxine is 64 years old and is a retired e-learning consultant and London blogger.
She hopes to combine her love of opera and writing for online audiences by participating in ENO Response. Maxine is looking forward to mastering the challenges of performance criticism.
Naomi is a 19 year old Chemical Engineering student at University.
Naomi has been a part of the ENO’s youth chorus and studied music up till A level. Naomi is most looking forward to watching and reviewing Così fan tutte.
Patrick is 61 and works in HR.
He first came to ENO in 1979 for Jonathan Miller’s production of The Marriage of Figaro, and has been coming back for more ever since then. He is keen to develop as a critic and get better at reviewing and is really thrilled at the prospect of a new Ring Cycle done by this exciting team and starting with The Valkyrie.
Tacita is a 21-year-old History graduate currently working as a waitress.
Tacita has a background in singing opera, and applied to Response in order to combine her love of writing with her passion for performance. She is particularly excited to review Paul Ruders’ critically acclaimed operatic adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s feminist novel The Handmaid’s Tale.