Opera access is more about rip-off than strip-off

Don’t patronise us with trainers and beer. Just cut the ticket prices.


Damon Albarn has invited us all to “undress for the opera”, which is one way to make the Ring cycle go with a swing.

Before everyone starts flinging their bras at Bryn Terfel, though, it should be noted that this is just a slogan, aimed at enticing younger audiences to the English National Opera. “Come in shorts, armour, jeans, pumps, anything!”, expanded the ENO’s artistic director John Berry at the campaign launch, just missing the cool mark due to the fact that nobody except Brown Owls says “pumps” anymore.

The idea of “Undress for the Opera” is to unshackle the artform, again!, from its persistently stuffy image as “art for the rich, the successful and the almost dead”. Audiences are encouraged to turn up in jeans and trainers, drink beer in the interval and go to after-parties with the stars. In addition, 100 of the best seats in the house will be available for £25.

It’s a good idea, even if opera has been “undressing” itself for some time now. Glyndebourne may still be a glorious bastion of taffeta and Taittinger, but nobody thought you had to wear a tux to the Coliseum. And there are myriad scruffy younger companies performing La Boheme and Dido and Aeneas in pubs and warehouses.

I can’t remember what I wore last time I went to the opera. I do remember, though, what I saw. It was Dr Dee, Albarn’s new opera and the Coliseum was filled with young people wearing – who knows? – what they liked, to watch something original and exciting. Not that I have anything against traditional opera. It’s just that I’ve never seen one without a bird’s eye view of the singers’ bald spots. The only affordable tickets left after the cognoscenti have snaffled the best and cheapest are up in the gods.

And that’s the real problem. Access. People aren’t staying away from the opera because they don’t know what to wear. It’s patronising to assume that the youth will only leave their PlayStations for Puccini if they can keep their hoodies on. Besides, most people would probably agree that if the performers have made an effort, it’s a mark of respect to make one too.

The real stumbling block is ticket prices. If you wanted to see the Ring cycle at the Royal Opera this month, you had to buy a ticket to each of the four operas, to the tune of hundreds of pounds. Even the most curious wannabe fan would balk at that. Forget trainers and beer, it’s the ENO selling the best seats in the house for less than the price of a pair of Topshop jeans that deserves the loudest bravo and, one hopes, a wider encore.

The new chocolate bar "for ladies"

What do women want? It’s the eternal question but the clever clogs at Cadbury have cracked it. What women want is an ersatz “treat” with a fancy pidgin Italian name (Nigella has a lot to answer for) that comes in a purple wrapper specifically designed to make them feel guilty.

This is Crispello, a new chocolate bar for ladies, which hits shelves next week. The newly health-conscious 21st-century woman isn’t buying as much confectionery, apparently, so Cadbury have created a lighter bar, with fewer calories and a name which may induce vomiting. It comes in three separate pieces, so there’s no risk of breaking a nail while breaking it up, and a resealable packet, so women don’t wolf it all down at once like slavering dogs but rather savour it, over three weeks, say, like serene princesses of self-control.

A preview Crispello arrived at the i yesterday and, having shared the pieces with my bestest gal pals on the desk while we took a break from counting calories and loathing ourselves, the verdicts ranged from “meh” to “tastes like whipped fat”’, to “can I have a Yorkie now?” Yorkie, of course, is a Man’s Chocolate Bar, which markets itself with the slogan “It’s not for girls”. And that’s the really irritating thing; at least that marketing slogan showed a bit of tongue-of-cheek wit. Why must women always swallow the lame end of gender stereotyping?



React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Errors & Omissions: how to spell BBQ and other linguistic irregularities

Guy Keleny

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own