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

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

Recruitment Genius: Multi Skilled Engineer - Electrical / Mechanical / Maintenance

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A multi-skilled engineer with a...

Recruitment Genius: Electronic Service Engineer - Television & HI-FI

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Engineers for field & bench ser...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Designer - Award Winning Agency

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity for a t...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

£35000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global provider of call ce...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Punks show off the Doctor Marten boots as they gather in Blackpool for the annual Rebellion Punk Rock Festival  

Recalling my act of punk rebellion at school shows how different attitudes are today

Rosie Millard
A hormone released when someone is under stress or pressure has been found in breast milk  

Shaming women for being unable to breastfeed is wrong, and it needs to stop

Siobhan Freegard
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
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada