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The Independent Culture
David Pountney, director of productions at English National Opera, on Harry Enfield's Guide to Opera (C4 Thur): 'My impressions of this programme are really strictly irrelevant as it was designed for people who don't know about opera. For instance, all the jokes about opera, all of us have heard a million times before, they're all old hat. But it's a very entertaining, free commercial for opera and I'm very grateful to Channel 4 for doing so much enthusiastic marketing on our behalf.

'Commercial companies spend millions to change their image, but we can never afford to make that sort of pitch to the public. The more we see that opera is not the preserve of a stuffy, confined upper-class set, the better.

'It's a shame there wasn't more made of the fact that opera doesn't have to be in a foreign language, but that's my only real criticism. There is a slight patronising element to Harry Enfield's presentation, but it's very hard, if you're really trying to explain something, not to put yourself in the position of teacher. He's tried to mix a lot of information with a lot of entertaining twaddle and he's done it to a very high standard.'

(Photograph omitted)

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