Title graphic: Encyclopedia Entries
Opera and Opera Companies: 2

In contrast to the sporadic attempts to stage opera in English at Covent Garden, other companies such as the Carl Rosa Opera Company (1875-1960) and the Moody-Manners Company (1897-1916) specialized in its promotion, providing London seasons as well as provincial tours. Both also acted as a training ground for British artists. The Carl Rosa Company gave the first performances in English of Wagner's Siegfried (1901) and Verdi's La forza del destino (1909), and by the 1930s it was providing most of the opera heard outside London. Opera in English was also staged for two nights a week at the Old Vic by Lilian Baylis, who, in 1931, moved her company to the Sadler's Wells Theatre, subsequently renaming it Sadler's Wells Opera. Her repertory of almost thirty operas was gradually expanded and the company enlarged, so that by 1939 its reputation as the leading provider of opera in English in London was assured. Deprived of a permanent home during the Second World War, the company, under the direction of Joan Cross (1900-93), was forced to spend most of its time on tour, but it continued to extend its repertoire. Its reputation was further enhanced when Sadler's Wells was reopened after the war with the first performance of Britten's Peter Grimes (1945), with Peter Pears and Cross in the leading roles. A particularly adventurous period followed as several operas by Janáček were introduced - Davis, Musical Director in the Years 1961-4, conducted the first British performance of The Cunning Little Vixen (1961).

In 1968, the problems associated with the move to the Coliseum, which possesses the largest stage in London, were surmounted, and major triumphs followed with the production of Wagner's Ring conducted by Reginald Goodall (cycle completed in 1973) and the first British stage production of Prokofiev's War and Peace (1972). Mark Elder, during his first ten years as Musical Director (1979-89) conducted many new productions, including Tchaikovsky's Mazepa (British premiere, 1984) and Busoni's Doktor Faust (British stage premiere, 1986); first British performances also included Glass' Akhnaten (1985) and Birtwistle's The Mask of Orpheus (1986). In 1974 the company was renamed the English National Opera.