Why should anyone assume that new architecture and old music cannot be compatible?

The Coliseum is an oddball building in London's St Martin's Lane leading down to Trafalgar Square. It was designed by Frank Matcham (Hackney Empire, London Hippodrome, Victoria Palace) in a showbiz Baroque style, borrowing a little from Wren's Royal Naval Hospital, Greenwich, and opened as a music hall in 1904. It is not a particularly fine building, but like all Matcham's designs it is warm, engaging and rather lovable.

Since 1968 it has been home to the English National Opera, and from 1992 the opera company has owned the freehold thanks to the largesse of that musical ex-minister, Dave "Chelsea" Mellor. Now the ENO wants to move to a new home, paid for with Lottery funds (or so it hopes) and possibly sited at King's Cross, Bankside or the Hungerford car park.

ENO has good reasons to move from the Coliseum: the building is in rickety shape; it is too cramped and lacks the sort of modern facilities that would allow it to put on co-productions with better equipped companies elsewhere in Britain and abroad. Last season it had to turn down a David Hockney-designed Turandot from Los Angeles because of its backstage inadequacies. Such co-productions are essential for under-funded opera companies. To earn its keep, ENO needs to run a major and a minor production concurrently; it cannot do this within the wobbly Edwardian confines of the Coliseum.

Yet, although the case for a brand-new opera house is sound, ENO's plans have been attacked left, right and centre. Look, say a chorus of critics this week, at the horrid new opera house at the Bastille in Paris: the grim building is already showing signs of premature senility. Who wants to go there when Garnier's lovely old opera house stands but a mile away?

And who, in their right mind, would traipse all the way to Kings Cross, legendary land of strip-tease, hoody pimps, budget tarts and drug-dealers, to sit through an opera in English anyway?

First things first. The Coliseum would be a much happier building if bought by Lord Lloyd Webber or Sir Cameron Mackintosh, say, and turned back - and forward, as it were - into a home for just the sort of light musical entertainment it was originally designed for (with revolving illuminated disco globe on top).

The ENO, removed from Trafalgar Square, would not be going to the cultural equivalent of the North Pole. Bankside is already home to the Globe and soon to be home to the new Tate; the Hungerford "car park" is bang next to the South Bank and soon to become part of Lord Rogers' Thames-side "string of pearls" - hardly cultural wildernesses. As for Kings Cross, it will develop into a vibrant quarter soon enough: an opera house would only help it along.

In any case, why should anyone assume that new architecture and old music cannot be compatible? New concert halls have thrived, even when their locations have seemed less than auspicious: consider the success of those built recently in Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow, acoustic triumphs all. Think, too, of Michael Hopkins's new, enlarged Glyndebourne Festival Theatre and of the Jeremiahs who doomed it to failure: take away its "village hall" character and that would be the end of it. In fact, Glyndebourne, an out of the way place for an opera house, has never been more popular.

In the world of pop, Wembley and Birmingham Arenas, neither located in desirable or even remotely likeable places, are often packed to their gunwhales. There is no reason why an inventive and catholic programme of operas put on in a glamorous new building in Kings Cross, Bankside or wherever, will not succeed.

Several of ENO's fiercest critics appear to believe that districts like these are no-go areas set in the fifth dimension, which is nonsense. London is not, as some fashionable writers like to believe, a cosy medley of old-time villages, but a writhing, snaking, energetic and creative capital - big-scale, small-scale, old and new - that moves and shakes, sometimes displacing old and much loved institutions into new homes. Is Charing Cross Hospital any the worse for being in Hammersmith today? Do Sloane Rangers change their accents because they have occupied Shepherd's Bush as well as Fulham?

Short-term thinking and suspect nostalgia are no basis for decisions about where best to house an opera company. ENO will most likely prosper by leaving St Martin's Lane, while the Coliseum will be all the better for returning to its roots. Tony Blair, meanwhile, will sweep the mean streets of Kings Cross clean and our only likely loss will be future performances of The Beggar's Opera: Tony will soon put a stop to that sort of sentimental nonsensen

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer, Lord Alan Sugar, Karren Brady are returning for The Apprentice series 10

TV
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder star in 'Girl, Interrupted'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas Pynchon in 1955, left, and Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of his novel, Inherent Vice

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Nicole Scherzinger will join the cast of Cats

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Fans were left surprised by the death on Sunday night's season 26 premiere

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?