5 days in the life of DENNIS MARKS

Share
Related Topics
MONDAY: Thank you, Radio 3, from all early risers. My wife, Sally, dozes to James Naughtie, but I find a cup of tea and some bracing Dvorak sets me up better. Particularly today, most of which will be spent in the piranha tank, announcing the results of ENO's feasibility study to the press. Some papers have already anticipated that we will opt for a newly built theatre. If we do, it had better be warmer than the Coliseum this morning, where the geriatric boiler has packed up again.

The turnout at the conference is substantial and lively. But it's always surprising how narrow are most journalists' concerns. Here are the results of a 300-page study, with 28 appendices. It offers a solution to ENO's future home, and London's only purpose-built performing arts centre for the millennium. Nevertheless, the press ask the same old questions - is the money for elitist art? Can London sustain two opera houses? Three-quarters of a million people went to opera in London and the South- east last year. It's not until the relative calm of Radio 3's In Tune later that the issues are discussed in depth.

By supper time I'm relieved to sink into the warm bath of Rebecca on ITV. Not a patch on Hitchcock, of course. And why do the little details irritate, like the unsuitable footwear Mrs DeWinter sports for her broody strolls in the grounds of Manderley?

TUESDAY: Francesca Zambello, the feisty director who carried off the Olivier award for our Khovanshchina, rings up to support the cause. She grew up on the West Side of New York and watched the Lincoln Centre transform a problem neighbourhood into a buzzing cosmopolis. Like me, she loves the Coliseum, but knows its ailments, creaks and groans.

Party during The Pearl Fishers to thank generous patrons of ENOfor their help with the study. They are delighted at the performance of four singers who have grown to international stature within the ENO company. These supporters have clubbed together to form syndicates to build the development of company singers. They have questions and concerns about the study, too, but they share its vision.

Then home after midnight to a kitchen sink overflowing with flowers, a New Year's gift from the composer Hans Werner Henze. How can someone who has a world premiere of a new opera in Munich on Saturday find the time for such a thoughtful gesture?

WEDNESDAY: First stage rehearsals of Italian Girl in Algiers. Poor Sally Burgess tore her Achilles tendon four weeks ago and the redoubtable Della Jones leapt into the breach. Della is one of the most experienced Rossini performers around and crackles with energy. Last-minute rescue bids have become the order of the day with this show. During the rehearsal period, our tenor Charles Workman flew out to La Scala to stand by to save Riccardo Muti's Alceste which had lost not just one, but two tenors to the winter bugs.

THURSDAY: More support and more misunderstandings. It's a relief to have the issues out in the open, so that people like Sir John Tooley and Humphrey Burton can bring some experienced clarity to the debate. Simple misunderstandings are always easier to report than complex analysis. How do you explain that the Coliseum sits at an angle to St Martin's Lane, cleverly concealed by the architect Frank Matcham in 1904, so that to create a proper backstage would mean demolishing the flats over the road and rehousing our neighbours?

FRIDAY: "The stage is set for battle," says the Guardian, over a supportive letter from our president, Lord Harewood. The Independent opens up the dialogue with a piece by Jonathan Glancey supporting the case for new buildings to serve the performing arts and contribute to the regeneration of a "writhing, snaking, energetic and creative capital".

And it's off to Munich tomorrow, for the premiere of Henze's Venus & Adonis. My predecessor Peter Jonas is still courageously producing new work at the Bavarian State Opera. He was an early contributor to this week's debate, castigating ENO's board and management for contemplating a move. His nostalgia for the Coli is an emotion easily recollected in the tranquillity of one of the best-equipped opera houses in Europe, with a subsidy four times that of ENO. And I'll bet their boiler is vorsprung durch Technik!

Dennis Marks is general director of English National Opera.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Police officers attempt to stop illegal migrants from jumping onto trucks headed for Britain in the northeastern French port of Calais on October 29, 2014  

Tighter security in Calais won’t solve the problem

Nigel Morris
 

Football needs its Martin Luther moment, and soon

Boyd Tonkin
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines