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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor