What future for James Conway?

Q: In an interview in 1999, in Ireland, you said you would love to work in the UK, where ‘many of those poor touring companies have to tour only central repertory.’ Someone was listening, for soon along came ETO and you transformed that repertory. Thinking to the future now, would you love to run one of those big resident companies with the opportunity to do the big Verdis, or the Russians or whatever?

JC: Of course. I always thought I wanted it more than anything. God, I wish I could do Don Carlos, one of the greatest operas ever, I would love to do Poulenc’s Carmelites, Rosenkavalier. There are many things I’d love to do, but one always wants other things. When I think about the authenticity of going to the city where people live, performing in their theatre, meeting them on their home ground in a variety of contexts. In the last eight years, I’ve been able to stage large-scale choral works working with three to five choirs in each city, meeting the people who make music in that place and to mix that with our professional performers—that’s just a great dream that for me has been able to come true.

To not just be thinking about—sorry—you know, posh folks. I love posh folks, I like all folks, but I don’t think opera is just for posh folks. I don’t think I could have lived with myself if I’d done that for a living all these years even in the name of artistic excellence. I just feel the best should be available for everyone. Everyone may not want to come—that’s fine because there’s lots of other things to do—but it should be there as an offer for everyone.

English Touring Opera’s new production of Amadigi opens at Hackney Empire on Friday 1 October 2021, with further performances at Hexham, York, Poole, Leamington Spa, Bradford on Avon, Saffron Walden, Tunbridge Wells, Snape Maltings and Exeter.

Its performances of Dido and Aeneas and other works mentioned above are available free online. See ETO web site for more details on all.