Damon Albarn wants you to undress for the Opera

 

Blur frontman Damon Albarn and Monty Python star Terry Gilliam have joined forces to encourage new audiences to go to the opera.

The pair backed the Undress For The Opera scheme which was unveiled today at the English National Opera (ENO) in central London.

ENO artistic director James Berry said he wanted to build on the success of Albarn's Doctor Dee show which attracted a new audience to the venue.

He said: "In a sense, Undress For The Opera, this new audience initiative, was really inspired by Doctor Dee and seeing a completely different audience in this magnificent theatre was so heart-warming."

The plan includes a series of informal evening shows which will have no dress code and a "more relaxed" atmosphere.

Prices for the best seats will be held at £25 and the audience will have an introduction to the show, be able to download a synopsis of the opera, and be invited to a post-performance party with cast and company members.

Albarn, who admitted to a "struggle with the word opera", compared its reputation to world music.

He said: "We are carrying into this century ideas that belonged to a previous generation and really it's just a case of clarifying what the state of play is now and it's quite clearly different and the more that word is spread the easier it will be to translate and bring in new ideas."

Gilliam, who is appearing in a short film guide to opera, said there was a perception it was an "art for the rich, the successful and almost dead".

Mr Berry said 30% of the ENO's audience was under 44 and they wanted to raise that to 40% in the next 12 to 18 months.

One of the informal nights will be a performance of Sunken Garden - based on a story by novelist David Mitchell.

Mr Berry said the show would feature stage performance and 3D film footage.

Mitchell, whose novel Cloud Atlas has been filmed with Tom Hanks and Hugh Grant - teamed up with Dutch composer Michel van der Aa for the production.

PA

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