Marvellous Miller, English National Opera, Coliseum, London, review: a joyful celebration of a great director

A celebration of Sir Jonathan Miller’s contribution to ENO, included excerpts from many of his productions, as well as filmed inserts from an interview with the man himself

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The Independent Culture

ENO devoted one night to a joyful celebration of one of its greatest directors Sir Jonathan Miller, now 82, who in four decades has given them 15 new productions, 80 revivals, work present in 37 out of 39 seasons – all beacons of unfailing intelligence and luminous insight.

Excerpts from adored favourites were interspersed with filmed inserts from an interview with Miller himself. We had Alan Opie – heartbreaking – from the American Mafia Rigoletto, Andrew Shore’s glorious comic shtick as Dr Bartolo (Barber of Seville) and Dr Dulcamara (Elixir of Love), and a new list from Richard Suart (Ko-Ko since 1989 in Miller’s grand hotel Mikado), which included Toblerone and the Daily Mail.  

Miller described how his directorial style arose simply out of trying to make things more realistic. A key influence is American sociologist, Erving Goffman, who focused on how we behave in public places, and the seemingly negligible in our actions. For Miller, it is the negligible details which make things interesting because they draw attention to the fact that most of our lives are negligible, and that by attending to the unattended we are reacquainted with the details of being alive.

Such is his relish in enquiry and brilliance as a talker that you couldn’t help but leave the theatre without the distinct impression that he had somehow made you just that bit more aware than you were before.