Wikipedia:Peer review/English National Opera/archive1

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English National Opera[edit]

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I've added a lot of new material to the article, and I should like comments from Wiki-colleagues, with a view to getting it up to FAC standard. In particular, have I got the balance right between performance history and the internal goings-on of the company? All contributions gratefully received. Tim riley (talk) 11:05, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

Well, since no-one else has yet taken up the baton, I'm going to start with a few general observations (I have a number of niggly little things that I'll keep for later):

  • It is generally very readable, though towards the end there seem to be an awful lot of opera titles in rapid succession under various headings.
    • I agree the sections at the end are a touch costive, but I felt the info should go in, and it isn't, to my thinking, substantial enough to warrant an article of its own, but I see I am in a minority on the latter point, and will go with the consensus at the end of this PR Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
  • However, I'm not tremendously happy about the overall shape of the article. It's entitled English National Opera, but (leaving aside the lead/lede), there's nothing about ENO until about 40% of the way through (my estimate). My feeling is that the early stuff (Foundations, Vic-Wells, Sadlers Wells Opera and probably Coliseum) would be best treated in a series of short paragraphs pointing to spinoff "main articles", some of which already exist in whole or part.
I usually agree with G-Tell, and I agree with nearly all of his points below, but I must respectfully disagree on this. I don't think there is much more to say about these early periods. Why not present it all together. Sadler's Wells Opera redirects here, and no one can be confused, and the article is not terribly long. I see not reason to create a series of short, out-of-context spinoffs. I would suggest keeping it all together as is. -- Ssilvers (talk) 05:30, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Some other spinoffs could perhaps be created, e.g. List of operas performed by English National Opera, List of English National Opera world premieres, that sort of thing
Sounds good to me, except those two lists sound suspiciously like one, with an asterisk after the ones that are premieres. Also, could have a recordings article, perhaps? -- Ssilvers (talk) 05:30, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Ssilvers's view chimes with mine. The Gilbert book (apart from one ghastly clanger in saying that poor Stephen Arlen died of cancer of the sarcophagus) is a good, solid study of the company from its origins to three years ago. Pp. 1–214 deal with company at the Old Vic and Sadlers Wells Theatres, 215–265 with SWO at the Coliseum, and 266–585 with ENO. At a guesstimate I'd say the article is not so very far from the same sort of proportions. I'll see what I can do about a recordings section. There were some SW potted operas in the 60s, and the Goodall Meistersinger and Ring are on CD. I'm not sure about the Chandos opera-in-English recordings - not officially ENO recordings, I think, but I'll check. Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC) Later: added. Tim riley (talk) 12:32, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • On a more nitty-gritty level, I feel that there is rather too much criticism of the "Powerhouse" era and the more, er, unusual productions, some of which, e.g. Pountney's Rusalka and Hansel and Gretel, have been critically acclaimed and revived. A bit more NPOV, please.
    • I've added the Hansel and Gretel production.

Now shoot me down! --GuillaumeTell 18:14, 4 June 2011 (UTC)

Excellent, thank you! - much food for thought here. I'll ponder and report back. Tim riley (talk) 18:36, 4 June 2011 (UTC)

Additional miscellaneous stuff (because I'm off to the opera at the other place tomorrow):

  • Lede:
    • London Coliseum redirects to Coliseum Theatre, which smacks of pedantry by persons unknown; also, the link appears three times in the lede
    • Old Vic link is interesting in that the word "opera" only appears once there
      • I hold no brief for the Old Vic article, but the operatic facts are as stated in the ENO article Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
    • Conductors: a somewhat contentious list - for example, isn't Gardner rather too recent? What about Daniel? And so on.
      • I have tried to keep the numbers down to five apiece to avoid a great long list. Happy to juggle names if there is a consensus Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
    • Directors: no mention of David Alden or Christopher Alden ...
      • As with the conductors.
    • final sentence says: "In addition to the core operatic repertoire, ENO has presented a wide range of works, from early operas by Monteverdi and standard opera repertory, to new commissions, to operetta and Broadway shows." Clunky (... from ... to ... to ...).
  • Foundations:
    • "semi-staged versions of Wagner operas" - were these different from the banned fully costumed performances mentioned higher up?
      • No - just the same presentation as the Verdi etc earlier, but now ambitiously expanded to include the Beast of Bayreuth. Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
    • Lots of Shakespeare stuff, not relevant to ENO
I'm just a yank, but I found the relationship with the theatre co to be an interesting part of the history. -- Ssilvers (talk) 05:30, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Vic-Wells: "the other side of London from the Old Vic" - which other side? north, south, east, west, transpontine, what? Also, "In 1932, a British newspaper commented ..." - which British newspaper?
    • I'm reluctant to get into too much geographical detail, but will expand if people think it helpful. Newspaper named. Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Sadler's Wells Opera: something wrong with "Having survived that threat, the continued existence of Sadler's Wells Opera was put into jeopardy by internal divisions." - did the continued existence of SWO survive the threat? Recast.
    • This seems to me to say what I mean. The continued existence was at risk, but survived. Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
    • "Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, sung in Italian, for reasons not clear to the press." Nor to me - there must be an explanation somewhere, so let's have it.
      • Not clear to me, either! I cannot for the life of me find out why Orfeo was in Italian. Gilbert doesn't say, and the press were baffled. Raymond Leppard, who conducted, put in what Gilbert calls "some special pleading", but the substance of his plea is not even hinted at. Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
  • 1980–1999: Worth mentioning that Elder and Pountney were contemporaries at Cantab and were clearly friendly - must be a ref somewhere
    • I have said that it was Elder's urging that Pountney was brought in; this could be expanded, though I am wary of seeming to suggest cronyism by making a point of their association. Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
    • Gilbert, whom you appear to rely on an awful lot, seems to me (I haven't read her book) to be a rather partial witness. "Euro-bollocks" needs a counter-statement. Who were the directors who are fingered as "director's opera" enthusiasts? I think we should be told.
      • Gilbert - I've drastically trimmed the references to her book and replaced with newspaper articles to the same effect. Hytner's comment is itself a counter-statement to Elder's immediately before it. I thought of naming the directors such as Copley who were sidelined by the Powerhouse trio, and will do so if this is thought helpful. Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
    • No mention that I can see of designer Stefanos Lazaridis
      • There isn't at present; there could be, if it is thought a good idea. I have not mentioned many designers. Perhaps I ought to add more. I shall be interested to see what other reviewers think on this point. Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC) Later - done, in note on Powerhouse years. Tim riley (talk) 12:32, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
    • No mention of English National Opera North, which became Opera North, and whose guiding lights, Payne and Daniel, moved to ENO after their success in Leeds.
      • I pondered hard about this. Gilbert gives quite a lot of space to it, but I thought it was going off at a tangent for this article. Happy to add a few words if people think it a good idea. Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC) Later Now done. Tim riley (talk) 12:32, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
    • Bieto - no mention of the famous Ballo in maschera production ...
      • I didn't want to go in for Bieito-bashing, and have already mentioned his Don Giovanni.
  • 21st century: Doran's Valkyrie at Glastonbury seems to be out of order
    • Need it be mentioned at all, I wonder? I inherited this from a previous editor, and left it in, though it seems to me of peripheral interest - rather a gimmick and not noticeably productive of new patrons at the Coliseum. Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
  • "ENO provided for the increased interest in Handel's operas, staging Alcina (2002), Agrippina (2006) and Partenope (2008)." - "provided for"?
    • Happy to alter. Any suggestions?
  • Operetta and musicals: no need to repeat the G&S stuff up above - put it in one section or the other but not both.
    • Most of the G&S stuff is only mentioned once, but the ref to the earlier productions is, methinks, needed here, to put it in context, showing how much of the operetta repertoire was continental and how much English National. Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
    • Candide needs a mention in this section
      • Indeed it does. Most remiss of me. Added. Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Musical directors: Why no article for Corri?
    • There will be - albeit a hideously scrappy one. I can't even establish his d.o.b. I'll link him after I've written the article. Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
  • That's all, folks (until I get back on Tuesday). --GuillaumeTell 00:30, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
  • I don't intend to make many comments here at this time. I note that sometimes the article says "music director" and sometimes "musical director". I prefer the first, but I think the British generally use the second, and this article should stick to British usage. Another lovely expansion job, Tim, although I'd say it is currently closer to GA than FA. As G-T says, it may rely a little too heavily on Gilbert. Are there any other major chroniclers of the company and its story? Perhaps some more could be said about the styles of the musical directors of the company, or of the styles of its productions? You imply that there were a lot of concept productions but don't describe what the concepts were that drew the most controversy/acclaim/criticism. All the best! -- Ssilvers (talk) 05:30, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
    • musical/music directors: I have tried to stick to the usage in force at the time of each mention. Up till Elder the title was musical director, and from Elder onwards, music director. Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
    • Gilbert references heavily pruned and replaced with stuff from a Baylis biography for the early years and from press articles for later years. Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
    • I'm in enough trouble already without describing the "concept productions". Powerhouse productions always (God knows why) had a bedstead sticking out half-way up a wall of the scenery. And so on. Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

Most grateful to Guillaume Tell and Ssilvers for these reviews. I should welcome the comments of any further reviewers on those points mentioned above where I seek a consensus view. Tim riley (talk) 11:11, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

Just a couple of comments for now. Overall, this is a mighty impressive job. It puts the mish-mashy articles on "the other place" (Royal Opera House and Royal Opera, London) to shame. Anyhow...

  • Perhaps also mention in the lede that the operas are all sung in English? This is one of their hallmarks, and they're one of the few major opera companies that still (stubbornly) stick to singing in the vernacular. I know it's mentioned further down the article, but it takes quite a while to get to it.
  • Re "ENO provided for the increased interest in Handel's operas, staging Alcina (2002), Agrippina (2006) and Partenope (2008)." Perhaps "responded to" instead of "provided for". They also revived their brilliant 1999 Semele in 2004.

I'll pop 'round later with some more comments once I've a second pass through it. Best, Voceditenore (talk) 17:59, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

Both ideal suggestions – many thanks. I'll put them into effect at once and look forward to your second pass. Tim riley (talk) 18:30, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Comments by Wehwalt

Been busy, haven't had much time yet, but here are my comments on the lede. I'll add for the rest of it later on and possibly tomorrow.

Lede
  • "rough area". Possibly a bit too informal, although I could really go either way on it.
  • "ballet company, which evolved" This is ambiguous, it is uncertain if each fathered one, or whether the ballet company spawned all three. suggest "ballet company; these evolved".
  • "In 1968, the company moved to the London Coliseum in the heart of London. In 1974 it adopted the name English National Opera " Suggest merge sentences into one. It would smooth out the writing.
  • "several attempts" Really, I think "several proposals" would be better. Broader.
  • "and standard opera repertory," Omit. Perhaps text accidentally left in?

More later.--Wehwalt (talk) 13:53, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

All incorporated except for "rough" area. Would, say, "poor area" seem less informal? Looking forward to further comments, but no rush, of course. Tim riley (talk) 14:56, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
History
  • , including Il trovatore. It seems odd to give exactly one example.
It does indeed. Pruned. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Vic-Wells (caption of image). This was the building before it was torn down in the 1920s, or the building that was built then?
Clarified. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • You've slipped in the term Vic-Wells without defining it or really saying where it comes from.
Very good point. Now addressed. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • "was no longer incompatible with that of Sadler's Wells" I would state this in the positive, something like "was now compatible with that of Sadler's Wells.
Done. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • "dowdy" and "stodgy" You need a cite at the end of this sentence because of the quote.
Done. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • " co-exist." At least to an American reader, this doesn't convey what you want it to. Perhaps something like "remain separate?
Right-ho. Done. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • "Having survived that threat" A little POV! I'd omit the phrase entirely and pick up with the next words.
Done. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • "a vital" evidently not, it survived. Perhaps "important"?
Touché! Done. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • to cover for him. Perhaps a bit informal.
Redrawn. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • "Money continued to be a problem." What company has that not been true of? I'd strike the whole sentence. Also, the paragraph perhaps unfortunately covers two different areas, finance and dramatic production.
Addressed first point. Inclined to stick to the present wording as regards the second. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • "Roseberry Avenue". You haven't called it that in a lo-ong time.
Now addressed. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • "were far less well provided " Awkward sentence, at the least change "were" to "had been"
Yes – a bloody awful sentence. Now redrawn. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • "and practically destroy" perhaps "diminishing".
No, I think they really felt it would effectively end the company's presence on the London scene. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • "two interchangeable companies of equal standing" You may be assuming knowledge here. So what did the two companies do? One tour and one stay in Islington?
Just so. I've added a bit to that effect.
  • I would massage the Islington statistics into prose, it is jarring as it is.
Done.
  • "Its last performance at Rosebery Avenue" Did Islington Council change the spelling?
Thank you! (Why can one never spot one's own typos?)
  • The word "production" occurs three times in two sentences at the start of the Coliseum section.
Dealt with. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • " Looking back at the first ten years at the Coliseum in 1978, " I would scrap the idea of looking backwards, simply say that According to Harewood, among the highlights of the first ten years at the Coliseum were ...
Okay. Done. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • You seem to give more attention to discussing Mackerras than you do anyone else associated with the ENO. I suggest cutting back a bit.
Done. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • "Mackerras was succeeded " I would add "as musical director", as you discuss multiple roles for Mackerras.
Done. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)

Will finish tonight.--Wehwalt (talk) 20:23, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

Resuming:
  • "Productions during the 1980s. " This sentence tries to do too much and should be split at one of the "and"s.
Done. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • "In 1984 ENO ..." This sentence also must be split, you can't have multiple semicolons in a sentence.
Done. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • "Rigoletto, directed by Miller, depicting the characters as mafiosi, was greeted with a mixture of enthusiasm and booing." I like the writing, but this part of the sentence needs a little more grammar.
Redrawn. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
Repertoire
  • "UK, the U.S. " The variant punctuation there looks odd. Haven't checked to see how consistent you are being in US vs U.S. and so forth.
I am aiming to follow the practice of each country. Since the 1970s full stops have not been much used in Britain for "UK", "BBC" etc, but it seems impolite to impose that convention on the U.S., where, as I understand it, periods are still the general rule in analogous abbreviations. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • "students and young professionals, and workshops, commissions, talks and debates": Too many ands in this sentence.
Amended. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)

That's about it. Looks good!--Wehwalt (talk) 00:50, 7 June 2011 (UTC)

Thank you so much! These amendments improve the article substantially. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)

Brianboulton comments: I have a range of small quibbles, mainly minor prose matters, but no real criticism of this first-class article.

Lead
  • "From those modest beginnings,..." Perhaps "modest" is slightly POV? Either way the comma after "beginnings" should go.
  • "...which evolved into the ENO" It is not clear, as worded, what "which" refers to.
  • Last sentence: what is the distinction between "core operatic repertoire" and "standard opera repertory"?
Foundations
  • The sentence beginning "In the years after the First World War..." is a bit of a snake, and could do with a split, possibly after "national attention"
Vic-Wells
  • Image caption should be clarified, since Baylis's theatre is now the "old" Sadler's Wells.
  • The words "icluding" or "included" are rather over-used in this section - four times in the penultimate paragaph. Perhaps a little rephrasing?
Sadler's Wells Opera
  • "The company continued to leave Roseberry Avenue..." This colloquial way of referring to the theatre needs a prior explanation.
  • ""two interchangeable companies of equal standing" presumably refers to Sadler's Wwlls and Covent Carden, but the two companies you have been talking about are Sadler's Wells and Carla Rosa, so a little rearrangement is in order.
    • Clarified that the two companies are both Sadler's Wells companies, one touring and one in Rosebery Avenue, turn and turn about. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • "more Janáček" is unnecessarily vague. What did they do - Jenufa? The Cunning Little Vixen? Makropulos? Just curious.
    • Will expand in a footnote – don't want to clog the narrative up in the main text. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • (private observation) It is difficult to contemplate the words "legendary" and "Goodall" in the same sentence, unless the word "bore" is interpolated somewhere.
    • I don't think I've ever laughed quite so loudly at a PR comment. Shame on you! – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
Coliseum
  • Is a second pic of the Coliseum necessary? different angle, I know, but...
    • Well, I felt the need of something to break up the slabs of Riley prose, and give the poor old reader's eyes a break. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Mackerras wasn't knighted until 1979
    • I dithered about this: the sentence covers the period 1970 to 1983. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • "He was an exceptionally versatile conductor;" As presently organised, this reads like editorial opinion. It should be worked more directly into Harewood's comment.
ENO
  • I'm afraid Hytner's comment is two gnomic for me; what the **** does he mean?
    • I take it to mean that only the directors know what they are getting at. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Two semicolons in a sentence is one too many ("In 1984 ENO toured..." etc)
  • "This was the first British company..." → "They was the first British company..." The sentence needs some further attention towards the end. I think.
  • "Payne's successor was Sean Doran, whose appointment was controversial because he had no experience of running an opera company." Reads as opinion.
    • Corroborative ref added. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Re the Glastonbury Valkyrie, whose description is "notable achievement"?
  • No hyphen in "shoestring"
    • The OED prefers the hyphen, though admitting the unhyphenated version too. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
A couple of general points
  • Like a previous reviewer I am not keen on the "Premieres and commissions" listings and think that a subarticle would be a better solution
    • That's three-to-one against me. I've done the necessary.
  • If you want it, the ISBN on the Blyth book is 0-7110-0319-X - maybe not on your copy, however.
    • No, not on mine. I'd better stick to OCLC, perhaps.

Apologies if some of my points have been picked up by earlier reviewers. Brianboulton (talk) 17:42, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

Thank you very much indeed for these points. Hugely helpful. – Tim riley (talk) 09:02, 8 June 2011 (UTC)

Ruhrfisch comments - more to come - I looked on Flickr for a photo of an actual performance with a free license and found this - if you want I can upload it to Commons and perhaps crop it too. PR comments next. Ruhrfisch ><>°° 04:37, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

This looks very good to me - here are some nit-picky suggestions for improvement.

  • Link Freehold (law) on first use of "freehold"? Baylis set up a public appeal for funds in 1925, and with the help of the Carnegie Trust and many others acquired the freehold of Sadler's Wells.[12]
  • The caption says The old Sadler's Wells, demolished to make way for Baylis's theatre but the article says Work started on the site in 1926 and by Christmas 1930 a completely rebuilt theatre seating 1,640 was ready for occupation.[11] To me, rebuilt seems to be a bit different than completely demolished
    • I've redrawn the article text accordingly. Tim riley (talk) 08:08, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Needs a ref The first production there, a fortnight's run from 6 January 1931, was Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. The first opera, given on 20 January, was Carmen. Eighteen operas were staged during the first season.
  • Typo? In for It? It Harewood's view, among the highlights of the first ten years at the Coliseum were the Ring, Prokofiev's War and Peace, and Richard Strauss's Salome and Der Rosenkavalier.[47]
    • Well caught! Thank you. Tim riley (talk) 08:08, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
  • I think it would help to give the seating capacity of the Coliseum somewhere (apologies if I missed it)
    • Capacity is given at the end of the Sadler's Wells section, contrasting it with the smaller size of the Islington theatre. Tim riley (talk) 08:08, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Please make sure that the existing text includes no copyright violations, plagiarism, or close paraphrasing. For more information on this please see Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2009-04-13/Dispatches. (This is a general warning given in all peer reviews, in view of previous problems that have risen over copyvios.)

Hope this helps. If my comments are useful, please consider peer reviewing an article, especially one at Wikipedia:Peer review/backlog (which is how I found this article). I do not watch peer reviews, so if you have questions or comments, please contact me on my talk page. Yours, Ruhrfisch ><>°° 15:20, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

I uploaded it and then uploaded a cropped version at File:Deborah Warner's production of Handel's Messiah for the ENO.jpg Ruhrfisch ><>°° 00:12, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

Thank you so much both for your comments, all of which I have acted on, and for the excellent Messiah pic. I am working (sandbox only at present) on the Messiah article, and may well reuse the picture there too. Warmest thanks! Tim riley (talk) 08:08, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

Now closing PR with warmest thanks to everyone who has contributed above. Tim riley (talk) 16:02, 18 June 2011 (UTC)