English National Opera (ENO) has unveiled a new annual project to redesign the safety curtain in the world-famous London Coliseum’s auditorium.
Named in honour of long-standing and beloved ENO collaborator Sir Jonathan Miller, the new Jonathan Miller Safety Curtain will be commissioned each season, giving the London Coliseum a canvas to showcase new and innovative design. Each year a new artist will be invited to design the curtain.
Luke Edward Hall is the first artist to undertake this project, having kindly volunteered his time to create the new curtain artwork. Luke’s new curtain was unveiled in the Coliseum’s auditorium on Monday 30 September and will take centre stage throughout ENO’s 19/20 season.
Described by Vogue as interior design’s ‘wunderkind’, the London-based artist, designer and writer established his studio in 2015. His love of history and the classics inspire his playfully colourful works and he acknowledges the influence of ENO’s upcoming Orpheus series in the curtain’s final design:
‘I’m delighted to have worked on a new design for the safety curtain at the Coliseum, and to be the first artist involved in ENO’s exciting new scheme. My inspiration for the design came from the Coliseum itself and the Roman grandeur of its richly decorated interior. I drew upon my love of the mythology of Ancient Greece and Rome and created a scene in which Orpheus, the legendary poet and musician, is seen playing his violin beside the lyre-playing Apollo, god of music and dance. I wanted the atmosphere to feel magical, mysterious and dreamlike. I believe opera and theatre should transport viewers from their ordinary everyday existences to a place of fantasy – I hope my design will help to prepare them for the adventure.’
The curtain’s namesake, the director Sir Jonathan Miller, has worked with ENO for over 4 decades, directing 15 productions that have become the heart of ENO’s repertoire. Sir Jonathan was celebrated in 2016 with Marvellous Miller, an evening-length tribute at London Coliseum. Having trained as a doctor, Sir Jonathan went on to build an international career as a writer, presenter and theatre director. He directed his first opera in 1974 before working with ENO for The Marriage of Figaro in 1978. Sir Jonathan was knighted in 2002 for services to music and the arts. He is also a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and a Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Science. His inventive staging of The Mikado will take over London Coliseum once again this season, transporting Gilbert & Sullivan’s operetta to an English seaside hotel.
Sir Jonathan believes it is best to: ‘Be safe with your audiences so you can be wild and original with your work’, making the new safety curtain a fitting tribute to the bold director with his audience at the heart of every vision.
ENO Chairman Dr Harry Brünjes says: ‘Sir Jonathan Miller’s operas have become some of our best loved productions. It seemed only right that we name the new curtain after him, in honour of his work’s continued presence on our stage. All at ENO would also like to extend our gratitude to Luke Edward Hall, for the fantastic new artwork that he has kindly gifted to the project.’ The curtain will continue London Coliseum’s reputation as a home to creativity, through opera, ballet, musicals, comedy and now art.
The traditional safety curtain typically guards the audience in a theatre auditorium. It is lowered during intervals and when the stage is not in use, as a precaution in case of fire backstage. The current curtain has been in place since the Coliseum’s auditorium was renovated in 2004.
Notes to Editors:
To download images please visit: https://englishnationalopera.smugmug.com/Jonathan-Miller-Safety-Curtain-2019-by-Luke-Edward-Hall/
About English National Opera
English National Opera is the national opera company dedicated to one simple aim: making opera for everyone. We sing in English to be as accessible to the widest possible audience, as well as offering tickets for as little as ten pounds and we create opera that feels different, more theatrical and creatively daring. We’ve been doing this to an internationally recognised standard since being founded in 1931 as Sadler’s Wells Opera.
We are determined to open up the genre: nearly half of our audiences in 2018/19 were first-time bookers. Our learning and participation programme ENO Baylis last year touched the lives of more than 15,000 school children and community groups, and our talent development programme nurtures the careers of singers (the ENO Harewood Artist programme) and conductors (the Charles Mackerras Fellowship). We also give free tickets to Under 18s in our balcony for opening nights, Friday and Saturday performances.
Last year, the percentage of audience members under 44 increased by 13% year-on-year and the proportion of our audience with a black or minority ethnic background increased from 4% to 10%. In January of this year, we announced that we would be recruiting four new members of our Chorus from a BAME background, as well as four BAME Director Observerships.
Our ongoing support and development of British talent meant 80% of the cast in the 2017-18 season were British or British trained. That’s important to us and is fundamental to our ethos of giving new talent their break.
ENO is about opera for everyone.
About Luke Edward Hall
Luke Edward Hall is a London-based artist and designer. His colourful aesthetic is informed by a love of history, an appreciation of beauty and a sense of playfulness. Luke established his studio in the autumn of 2015 and since then has worked on a broad range of art and design commissions and interior design projects. As well as creating his own ceramics, fabrics, furniture and accessories, over the past four years he has collaborated with a variety of companies and institutions including Burberry, Christie’s and the Royal Academy of Arts.
Luke has exhibited his artwork in London and Stockholm and has contributed to a wide range of magazines including Cabana, House & Garden and Pleasure Garden. In March 2019 he joined the Financial Times as a columnist, answering readers’ questions on aesthetics, interior design and stylish living. Luke graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2012 after studying menswear fashion design, and prior to founding his studio, worked for a London-based interior designer.