A furious operatic storm will blow up tomorrow when the company's board announces its agreement with a feasibility study which concludes there are better places to sing than St Martin's Lane. "It will cause a big public debate, but the board's ready for that," said one member last night.
No alternative site has been chosen (though Battersea and Paddington appear on short lists), and the new theatre could not open before 2002, but the board decided that the lottery money it proposes to ask for would be best spent on a new theatre, modelled on new opera houses in Glyndebourne and Edinburgh.
The decision to quit the Coliseum comes only five years after the Government gave a special grant of pounds 10.5m for the purchase of the freehold of the building. But the feasibility study, carried out by accountants KPMG, concluded that refurbishment was a less realistic option than a new opera house with better stage facilities, better acoustics and lots of parking.