English National Opera Performers Fired During Performance

By Francisco Salazar

On Feb. 15, 2024, the English National Opera handed redundancy notices to singers and musicians midway through the final performance of its acclaimed production of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

The Telegraph reported that most of the performers found out about the letters during the interval of the performance and some of the performers described the letters as “cruel, wicked and thoughtless.”

According to Slipped Disc “Members of the chorus and orchestra started receiving formal redundancy notices from the ENO ‘director Of people’ Denise Mackenzie this evening – beginning in the hour before curtain-up of the final performance of Handmaid’s Tale, and continuing through the evening. Many singers and players first saw their sacking emails during the interval. ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ is one of the most technically and emotionally demanding works in ENO’s recent repertoire.”

This is the latest news out of the ENO, which had agreed with the Musicians’ Union to revise its plans. According to the new deal, the musicians will still be made redundant, but will be rehired at a later date with an additional month’s guaranteed work, a minimum redundancy payment, and “improvements to the proposed contract.”

The ENO has been under pressure following the loss of funding from the Arts Council England and has since announced that it will move to Greater Manchester.