After his success with The Damnation of Faust, ENO have asked Terry Gilliam to direct Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini in 2013, he tells the Independent. But he says, "I can't definitely say yes until I know whether I'm shooting a film next year."
Good job ENO want him as a director and not a salesman though. "When it works, opera is extraordinary. It's like bullfighting. But most of them are just crap. Extraordinary sets, amazing singing, but crap. Jonathan Miller's The Elixir of Love just depressed me because it was so good. Then I saw other things and thought, this is horrible. People are spending 90-odd quid to sit in those seats and they're getting a rotten deal. My approach was always, we are doing a show here".
Terry Gilliam's Nazi-tasting ENO production of The Damnation of Faust is to air on BBC4 this autumn.
The director himself will introduce the work for TV.
In recent years, opera on BBC TV has been the near-exclusive preserve of the Royal Opera House. While ENO have teamed up with Sky Arts for a series of gimmicks like '"3-D Lucrezia" and "Multiview Bohème", I can't remember when one of their productions last aired on a terrestrial channel. Could this signal a longer-term switch in BBC affiliations?
Linking the rise of the Nazis to the Faust tale isn't new - Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus got there a long time ago. But Terry Gilliam's exploration of the seductive power of the dark side is so assured and so brilliantly integrated with Berlioz's music that it's hard to believe this is the first time he's directed an opera - not to mention that he claims to be no great opera fan anyway.
Terry Gilliam makes his opera directing debut on 6 May, when The Damnation of Faust opens at ENO.
In the just-released trailer above, he grants a sneak peek at a swastika-plastered sketch pad, the first public whiff of his production concept. Bet he never guessed just how topical that would turn out to be.