The Week in Arts: Carry on cackling

IT WAS strange sitting behind the real Barbara Windsor at the National Theatre for the opening of Terry Johnson's Carry On Homage, Cleo, Camping, Emanuelle And Dick, while on stage her alter ego was both seducing and being seduced by the Sid James character. Would the real Barbara laugh, cry or sue? Well, she was crying at the end, as she is the only one of the central characters still alive. But it was interesting to note at which points she laughed. The first came when it was remarked on stage that things were so bad on the set that Charles Hawtrey nearly sobered up. But I was more intrigued to hear a barely-stifled giggle when an on-stage heavy sent by her husband said to the Sid James character: "It's not that Ronnie minds you owing him money. It's not that Ronnie minds you shagging his wife. It's your shagging his wife when you owe him money." Barbara Windsor, I gather, had seen the script and tweaked it a little. And if that's what she was happy, indeed mightily amused, to leave in, I'd love to see the out-takes.

Letter: Fate of the opera

Sir: I share Geoffrey Wheatcroft's dismay at the continuing saga of the Royal Opera House's finances ("Privatise the Royal Opera House, or nationalise it", 10 September). Is it beyond us to continue to subsidise opera while focusing that subsidy more strongly to reflect public priorities?

Leading Article: Cherish opera, but don't spoil it

OPERA IS a great art form, and attracts the same level of devotion from its fans as football. Too often it is sneered at by people, including politicians and journalists, who have no interest in seeing it performed; great opera is an uplifting aesthetic experience.

Privatise the Royal Opera House, or nationalise it

It is now clear that Covent Garden has somehow, somewhere gone horribly wrong

Opera to shut for year and fire staff

THE ROYAL OPERA will be shut for the whole of next year and staff will be made redundant in a last-ditch attempt to stave off bankruptcy.

Opera: Don Carlos for cheapskates

'Don Carlos' & 'I Masnadieri'

Arts: Ringing in the changes


Just why are we wasting so much money on the Royal Opera House?

Unlike the British Library, the opera house is not central to the nation's cultural activities

A knife at the opera

The grand old farce of Royal Opera House management becomes more improbable by the hour. On Tuesday, Sir Richard Eyre delivers his state- of-the-capital report. But is it too late to save Covent Garden from itself? By David Lister

Secret plan to charge for British Library

A SECRET plan to charge users of the New British Library has been drawn up in advance of the official opening of the pounds 520m building by the Queen on Thursday.

Royal Opera threatens to close for good

THE BOARD of the Royal Opera House is threatening to close down Covent Garden for good unless the Government doubles its annual grant.

Theatre: La Rondine flies again

La Rondine

Classical & Opera: Sing like an Egyptian

The Royal Opera's enforced exile from its home in Covent Garden is throwing up the opportunity to experience a number of interesting operatic rarities in concert format which, perhaps, wouldn't ever receive a full-blown staging in the normal course of events. One such rarity, which has been absent, at least from the British opera house, virtually since it was composed some 70 years ago, is Richard Strauss's Die agyptische Helena.

Letter: Ballet at all-time low

I WAS intrigued to learn from David Lister ("Sell-off plan for the Royal Opera", 16 March) that the Royal Ballet is currently enjoying critical acclaim. The reports from your excellent dance critic Louise Levene paint a very different picture.

Sell-off plan for the Royal Opera

A SHAKE-UP of the Royal Opera House is likely to be urged on the Government, with the Royal Opera being privatised but the Royal Ballet continuing to be funded by the tax-payer.
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