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Blur’s Damon Albarn Promotes Dress-Down, Cut-Price Opera

Christopher Robson as Kelley, Clemmie Sveaas as Jane and Paul Hilton as Dee in "Dr. Dee." Fake medium Thomas Kelley demands access to the bed of Dee's wife. Photograph: Richard Hubert Smith/English National Opera via Bloomberg

Damon Albarn -- Blur frontman and co-creator of the popular “Dr. Dee” staged by English National Opera in London earlier this year -- invited young audiences to attend ENO’s new cut-price, dress-down events.

ENO is programming informal evenings with top seats priced at 25 pounds ($40) and patrons encouraged to come as they are, be it in jeans and running shoes. Bars will serve beer or themed cocktails, and patrons will meet the cast at a post-show party.

Albarn said he got involved with ENO “to experiment and learn.”

“I’m quite clearly not someone who had any formal opera education,” he said at a press breakfast held on stage at the Coliseum, where ENO is based. “The fact that ENO was prepared to encourage that is a great sign of its health.”

Stage director Rufus Norris, co-creator of “Dr. Dee,” said the word opera had “negative connotations to people who don’t normally go,” and the goal was “taking away those negative connotations.”

The first four special evenings are: “Don Giovanni” (Nov. 15); “La Traviata” (Feb. 7, 2013); “Sunken Garden” (April 18, 2013); and “The Perfect American” (June 13, 2013).

“Don Giovanni” is directed by Norris. “Sunken Garden” is a world premiere with a libretto by David Mitchell, author of “Cloud Atlas.” “The Perfect American” is a Philip Glass opera getting its U.K. premiere.

For more information:

Muse highlights include Robert Heller on rock, Martin Gayford on art, Warwick Thompson on London stage and Ryan Sutton on food.

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