ENO Breathe – a joint initiative between Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and English National Opera

Suzi is the Creative Director of ENO Breathe, a pioneering programme developed by ENO and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. The course is specifically for people recovering from COVID-19 who continue to suffer from breathlessness and associated anxiety after their initial infection.


ENO Breathe brings together technical expertise and emotional connection. Focussing on breathing re-training through singing, it offers unique practical exercises and online resources that participants can use to improve their breathlessness. Breathing well is at the heart of good vocal production, and singers train extensively to distil lots of complex physiological actions into a single thought or sensation. At ENO Breathe, we invert this – rather than approaching singing via breathing, we improve breathing via singing.  At the end of the independently evaluated pilot, 90% participants reported positive improvement in their breathlessness, and 91% participants felt their levels of anxiety had dropped.


Lullabies are the common thread running through the programme, and singing them builds emotional connections with exercises designed to improve breathlessness and support healthy voice use. Lullabies span cultures and continents, are simple and inclusive, and their purpose is to soothe. Participants leave sessions with a calming song in their heart, and a positive emotional connection to a wealth of tools and exercises, making practical resources more memorable, more meaningful and, crucially, more useable.


The course comprises six weekly online group workshop sessions in which participants learn techniques to better manage their breathlessness and anxiety. Access to bespoke online digital resources is another aspect; these are designed to offer support between sessions. Tools include targeted exercises, song sheets, audio and video materials, all designed and recorded for the programme.


‘Ongoing breathlessness is debilitating and can be frightening. We hope this programme will support people to improve and help reduce their symptoms.’

Dr Sarah Elkin, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine & Clinical Director Integrated Care at Imperial


‘The arts have a huge role to play in acting as a salve as the country recovers from COVID-19 and this project embodies the power of opera.’

Stuart Murphy, CEO of English National Opera


You can read about the national roll out of ENO Breathe in The Telegraph,   The New York Times, The Independent, Classic FM, and  Classical Music Magazine.


ENO Breathe has been featured on BBC Breakfast and ITV news, on BBC radio 4’s Today programme (about 1hr 45 mins in) and on BBC radio 5 Live (about 1hr 50 mins in) as well as on Global News Canada.


If you have any enquiries relating to the programme, please email the team at: info.breathe@eno.org