Royal Opera plans extra performances

THE ROYAL Opera House, stung by government criticism of its high prices and inaccessibility for the public, is planning to put on up to 100 more performances a year by the end of the decade. It also wants to open its doors on Sundays.

But it will tell the Government it can only do these things if it goes ahead with a pounds 150m modernisation plan.

Covent Garden management also fears that if it cannot raise the money for its development plan it will still have to close in 1997 for essential health and safety work, and may not be allowed to re-open once the extent of out-of-date backstage machinery is discovered.

With pounds 90m still to raise for the transformation of the house and surrounding area, the management will adopt a new approach when a fund-raising appeal is launched later this year. Until now it has emphasised the need for the rebuilding to replace antiquated backstage facilities and to provide room to bring the Royal Ballet facilities into the house.

But that approach will change after criticisms of ticket prices and inaccessibility in the media and from David Mellor, the Secretary of State for National Heritage in Edinburgh last week.

The Opera House will announce that if the development goes ahead it will be able to increase radically efficiency and productivity backstage.

It will then be able to put on performances on the 40 nights a year which at present are dark and also, for the first time, have regular matinees. Ticket prices are unlikely to come down, but are also unlikely to rise to any great degree.

Even though the pounds 150m modernisation will only result in 100 extra seats, changes to the stage will also improve sightlines.

It is now proposed to close the house for two and a half years from 1997 rather than the four years originally proposed.

So far the Government has not indicated that it will give any money, though the Opera House hopes money might come from a future national lottery. Covent Garden management is worried that recent criticisms might put off large companies from supporting the venture.

It will produce a video for likely benefactors with stars such as Kiri Te Kanawa adding her voice to the urgency for changes to backstage facilities and machinery. The stage is still manoeuvred by pre-World War One submarine engines.

Some pounds 25m of essential work, including rewiring, has to be done. Senior staff said that when health and safety inspectors see the machinery, they might not allow the house to re-open until much more work is done.

Some pounds 60m will be raised from shop and office development on land owned by the Opera House. By the end of this month shops and restaurants will open at the back of the Opera House in the Covent Garden piazza.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - Commercial Training

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The business development manage...

The Richmond Fellowship Scotland: Executive Director

£66,192 per annum including car allowance of £5,700): The Richmond Fellowship ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Recruitment Genius: Office Junior

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent