ROH and ENO in 3D battle

London’s two great opera companies have announced independently that they will broadcast the first opera in 3D. English National Opera and the Royal Opera House issued press releases within minutes of each other revealing 3D opera projects.

English National Opera is collaborating with Sky on a ‘quadcast’ of a production of Lucrezia Borgia on 23 February. The opera will be broadcast live in 3D on Sky Arts 2 (HD), Sky 3D and in selected UK cinemas, and later in 2D in further cinemas. Bonus material will also be broadcast on Sky Arts 1.

The big screen is the focus of the Royal Opera House’s 3D project, a production of Carmen. The feature film, Carmen in 3D, will be released on 5 March, and played at RealD 3D-cinemas in more than 1500 locations worldwide. It will play at all major cinema chains in the UK, including Odeon, Cineworld, Vue, Apollo, National Amusement and City Screen.

The Royal Opera House has chosen Francesco Zambello’s hugely popular production of Carmen for its feature film, which was shot during two performances at the Royal Opera House; while English National Opera has selected a new production of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia by Mike Figgis, set on location in Rome.

As 3D film becomes de rigeur, these latest developments are evidence that opera is adapting to changing times. Both ENO's Artistic Director John Berry and ROH's Chief Executive Tony Hall are targetting new audiences, making world-class opera affordable in a straitened economic climate and accessible to those outside major cities.