Sir: In most US opera houses, both the finance director and artistic director are jointly and equally involved at every planning session, and programme decisions are made on a "can we afford it, do we have the audience support for it, and what do our donors want?" basis. Money is a fact of life, and it is faced head on, professionally. The best tickets can be just as expensive as at the Royal Opera House, but it is seen as right that the donors writing the cheques should get good seats. However, there are affordable seats as well, the opera audience is diverse, and the productions are often artistically innovative.
At Covent Garden it is the artistic directors who say "we want to do this". The finance department, faced with decisions already made, is reduced to scrambling to support productions which may or may not make financial sense. Is it any wonder the ROH has financial problems?
Budget seems to be a dirty word at Covent Garden, and until people who understand a profit and loss account and the proper balance between the artistic and financial are in top decision-making places, nothing will change.