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Royal Opera offers cut-price tickets

The Royal Opera House is to cut the price of a quarter of its top-price tickets next season but the most expensive seats will rise to £170 for the most popular productions.

The latest overhaul, announced yesterday, comes as the Opera House continues its campaign to attract new audiences with the introduction of free big-screen live relays of Covent Garden performances across the country.

The "Open House" initiative will bring opera and ballet to Sheffield, Liverpool, Gateshead, Belfast and Canary Wharf, London, in an extension of the hugely popular relays in the Covent Garden piazza which have been seen by more than 30,000 people in recent years.

BP has just signed a new five-year deal to sponsor three live relays each season while the Paul Hamlyn Foundation will subsidise 6,500 opera and ballet tickets.

Tony Hall, the Royal Opera House's chief executive, said staff were working energetically "to entice more socially diverse audiences through our doors". The 6 per cent rise in top-price tickets will fund the cuts in cheaper seats.