Bui-Van quits BBC to widen opera appeal

The English National Opera (ENO) has appointed BBC head of media relations Sao Bui-Van as its top PRO as it looks to speak to a broader range of audiences.

In the newly created position of director of media and PR, Bui-Van will work alongside other recent appointment, director of marketing Ian McKay. They effectively replace former head of comms Camilla Nicholls who quit in June (PRWeek, 11 June).

ENO chief executive and artistic director Sean Doran said Nicholls’s role had been split to acknowledge the scale and complexity of the job as the ENO broadens its target audience.

‘We are taking opera into new contexts in a 21st-Century arena,’ said Doran, pointing to the performance of Wagner material at this year’s Glastonbury Festival.

He added that further initiatives such as the commissioning of rap performers Asian Dub Foundation to write an opera about Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi for a February 2006 performance required the ENO to be able to communicate beyond its traditional audience.

‘We have invited sister voices from other genres into the house – the 20th Century has happened. It is not about popularising opera, it’s about making it accessible,’ said Doran.

An avid opera buff, Bui-Van spent six years at the BBC after four years as Nickelodeon head of comms. He joins in the new year, taking responsibility for the ENO’s brand positioning through PR, while McKay will concentrate on driving ticket sales for its London Coliseum home, which seats more than 2,300.

ENO maintains a five-person in-house press team but Doran would not rule out hiring a PR agency in the future: ‘That is something Sao will make recommendations about.’

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