OPINIONS: Are you an opera fan?

LIONEL BLAIR, actor: I can't remember what the last opera I saw was - I was bored out of my mind. But then that's me - I'm not a ballet fan either. I like musicals and plays but all these things are expensive. I'm not against the Royal Opera House getting the money, provided it's used to bring ticket prices down, so people who love it but can't afford it can get cheaper tickets.

JOAN BAKEWELL, television presenter: I've been a fan all my life. Opera combines drama, music, visual arts, dance, it's the total experience - it's sublime. The Royal Opera House needed the money because backstage conditions were the disgrace of opera houses in Europe. I don't think we want a flagship institution to be held in disrepute by the Pavarottis and Domingos of this world.

TOM AINGER, manager, the Hanover Band: I'm an opera fan; it's not that expensive if you queue on the morning of the performance. Everybody's judgement has been clouded over the pounds 55m - I watched a programme about it last night and people just wouldn't listen to the fact that the small charities will not miss out. Also, people haven't picked up on the fact that the pounds 55m isn't going into rich people's pockets, but to surveyors, architects and builders being employed over a period of years to develop the place.

TIM MORE, estate agent: I think they should give the money to charity rather than the arts. Why the arts, anyway, why not the sciences?

BRIAN PATTEN, poet: It's obscene to spend pounds 55m on the elite's pet dinosaur when there are brilliant young companies like Opera Factory struggling to commission and perform new works for a new audience.

GARRY BUSHELL, television critic: I've been thinking about taking opera lessons - I've got the build for Pavarotti already, if I can just get the voice right I'll be quids in. I like the heavy stuff like Wagner, but I'd rather see Aerosmith.

ANGELA HOMER, fashion design consultant: I've never actually been to an opera.

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