English National Opera’s cinema broadcast of Mike Leigh’s production of The Pirates of Penzance has become the most lucrative opera to be screened in cinemas. It has so far taken more than £600,000 at the UK box office, from a single screening on May 19, with around 40,000 people watching it.

The previous record for an opera was the Metropolitan Opera’s broadcast of Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow earlier this year, which took £504,000 in total. Repeat screenings of Leigh’s version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera are still taking place around the UK, meaning its box office taking will be even higher once these are taken into consideration.

The Pirates of Penzance’s cinema screening is produced by Serpent Productions, and distributed by Altive Media.

ENO artistic director John Berry said: “ENO’s partnership with AltiveMedia ensures that audiences across the UK experience brilliant opera in stunning HD at their local cinema. The live broadcasts capture ENO’s unique artistic personality in an exciting and dynamic way. Our partnership with Altive Media and Serpent Productions is only 18 months old, yet this unprecedented success together with our plans to extend screenings to North America and Australia will make ENO one of the leading players in this field.”

Matthew Hemley in The Stage 21/5/2015

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