Opera House cuts prices in `new era'

THE ROYAL Opera House spelt out its masterplan for becoming the people's opera yesterday. In a big change of ethos to respond to the criticisms and crises of recent years, ticket prices will be reduced, the new House at Covent Garden is to be open all day and there will be weekly free lunchtime concerts.

The ROH also announced its new programme yesterday. It will include a festival to mark Covent Garden's reopening in November with concert performances from Placido Domingo, Angela Gheorghiou and Roberto Alagna. It will also stage new specially commissioned ballets choreographed by William Forsythe, Twyla Tharp and Ashley Page among others, followed by a more traditional season of opera and ballet. The Royal Ballet will also perform The Nutcracker on Millennium Eve.

Michael Kaiser, the American executive director brought in to turn round the fortunes of the House in central London, said it was "the start of a new era". He added that the House's current deficit of pounds 14m would definitely be cleared by March 2000.

The ROH, which has had a massive uplift in its public subsidy from pounds 14m to pounds 20m a year, will reduce its highest ticket price from pounds 250 to pounds 150. Seat prices will be lower on Fridays and Saturdays than the rest of the week. Tickets will start as low as pounds 6 and more than half the house will be priced at under pounds 45 even on Monday to Thursday evenings. The top price for a Royal Ballet performance will be pounds 60, with over half the tickets costing less than pounds 30. Formerly, the best Royal Ballet seats were pounds 70.

Asked whether a top price of pounds 150 for opera did not still seem a lot for a publicly funded institution, Mr Kaiser replied: "On Friday and Saturday nights the top price will be pounds 85. In over half the House prices are pounds 40 or less and most people buy at the mid-price. There will now be a much more unified audience. We have a very full and very rich programme. We are offering these things at prices that are affordable, and we are re- opening on time.

"The new studio theatre excites me most with its weekly free lunchtime concerts. I think that shows we are entering a new era."

Other key aspects of Mr Kaiser's masterplan include:

t Opening the Opera House all day for the first time in its history for tours, meals and drinks

t Enhanced educational programmes with lectures, music workshops and dance clubs plus the usual school matinees

t Daily use of the new studio theatre seating 420 people for lunchtime recitals, education and community events

t A new ballet studio space seating 200 with workshops and small-scale performances programmed by Royal Ballet principal dancer Deborah Bull.

But despite the optimism at Covent Garden yesterday the House is still without an artistic director to work alongside Mr Kaiser. Two Americans, Sarah Billinghurst of the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the freelance director Francesca Zambello, have been approached but have turned the job down. Mr Kaiser said the board was "actively seeking" an artistic director.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
News
news

Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck

News
Gywneth Paltrow proposed that women seek out a special herbal steam-treatment service
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
Peppa Pig wearing her golden boots
film

"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star

Life and Style
tech

Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses

Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Film director Martin Scorsese
film
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Sport
bottom
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Regional Gas Installation Manager - South East England

£36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Gas Installation Manager is r...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service and Breakdown Engineer - South East

£29000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Service and Brea...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Recruitment Genius: Engineering Manager - Alconbury

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for an Engineering M...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee