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The opera company says it plans to work with multiple partners and venues across the Greater Manchester region with a focus on new developments in the artform.

Aerial View of City Buildings in Manchester
Manchester was chosen from a shortlist of five cities

Mylo Kaye

English National Opera (ENO) will relocate to Manchester, it has been announced.

The organisation, which was controversially dropped from Arts Council England's National Portfolio last November, has been in talks with a shortlist of five cities about establishing a new base outside London since May. Today (Tuesday 5 December) it said it will be “firmly established” in Greater Manchester by 2029.

ENO said it does not plan to have a dedicated Manchester headquarters for performance or rehearsal but would work with “multiple partners and venues” across the region. It will continue to run a "substantial" opera season every year at its London home, the London Coliseum.


ENO agreed to move its main base outside London as part of its funding arrangement with Arts Council England (ACE), after losing its National Portfolio status. ACE had initially suggested it could move to Manchester when first sharing its relocation plans last year.

Darren Henley, ACE Chief Executive, said the decision was the “culmination of months of hard work by the ENO” and would mean “excellent opera performances for new audiences and new ways for young people here to experience and participate in opera”.

He added it would “bring new opportunities for creative and technical professionals in Greater Manchester to partner with a world-class organisation making innovative work”.

In recent months, ENO has revealed plans for job cuts across its technical staff, chorus and orchestra in London as part of ongoing cost-saving measures. The Musicians' Union, Equity and Bectu have all opposed the proposals, which prompted the resignation of ENO's Music Director, Martyn Brabbins, in protest.

‘New possibilities’

Jenny Mollica, Interim Chief Executive Officer at  ENO, said: “As we continue to transition through significant change, today’s announcement marks an important and defining moment for our remarkable company. 

“This future direction will see us continue to expand our role as a national institution – supporting our mission to create work with and for even more audiences across the country, alongside our annual season at the London Coliseum.

“Throughout our discussions with partners and stakeholders in Greater Manchester, we have been struck by an emerging vision for the future of ENO and operatic work in the city region, defined by a shared ambition to open up new possibilities for opera in people’s lives.”

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said ENO’s move to the North West of England would “level-up access to opera up and down the country” and create “opportunities for the young people across the North to explore their creative talent”.

While ENO did not confirm which venues it plans to stage productions in the city, several possibilities exist, including the newly opened Aviva Studios in the city centre and The Lowry in Salford Quays.

Bridgwater Hall, home to Manchester's Hallé orchestra, posted on X that it was "looking forward to working with [ENO]", meanwhile city also has two receiving theatres operated by ATG, the Palace Theatre and the Manchester Opera House.  

“We’re a city that puts culture and the arts centre-stage, and the impact of this can be seen in the audience numbers, range of venues, skills pipeline and local talent that already exists here in abundance,” said Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council.

“With a growing population, a thriving business sector, and already a global destination for visitors who travel from across the world to Manchester to see our world-class productions, the city region is a perfect fit for ENO, and we can’t wait to welcome them and work with them as they make Greater Manchester their home.”

Describing ENO as “one of the most exciting cultural institutions in the country”, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said local policymakers had worked closely with the opera company to set out “a shared vision for a future in our city-region, where they can continue making groundbreaking opera, foster new collaborations with artists across the North, and bring their award-winning learning and wellbeing programmes to communities here”.

A headshot of Mary Stone