i Editor's Letter: Cheers for fair treats


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The Independent Online


I almost hesitate to tell you I went to Glyndebourne at the weekend. Mentions of opera are pursued by allegations of elitism as inexorably as Siegfried is pursued by the bear at the start of Wagner's opera of the same name.

This has always seemed to me to be a somewhat specious argument. OK, tickets at Glyndebourne cost a bit more than a seat at a Premier League game, but the food's a lot cheaper (you take your own).

And while the dress code stipulates black tie for men (it's a bit more relaxed for women), a clip-on bowtie and a dress shirt from M&S is not going to set you back much more than a Chelsea home strip.

I'm not aware of any ruling that states you have to travel by Jaguar or Bentley —you can roll up in a Reliant Robin if you like.

I'm slightly allergic to the suggestion that certain branches of the arts are the preserve of one particular class. I think it's patronising.

Are we really expected to believe that only toffs or the middle classes are capable of understanding art or music or drama? Or of grasping the idea that a production involving all three might cost a bit to put on? (There's no BOGOF in the opera world, unfortunately.)

In any case, I was there to see Michael Grandage's witty production of Le Nozze de Figaro – an opera that above all celebrates the wit of the working man and woman, and their ability to outwit an aristocratic employer, who is depicted as a hidebound, lecherous bully.

Mozart's librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, may have toned down some of the more radical political points in Pierre Beaumarchais's original play, but the message still comes through loud and clear: everyone deserves to be treated fairly, love — the greatest of all human emotions — should be rewarded, and desire for revenge, or petty jealousy, is the sort of behaviour that merits punishment.

Elitist or not, I'll raise a glass of champagne to that.

Stefano Hatfield is away.

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