Letter: Having a ball at Covent Garden

Sir: I fear that David Lister ("Pavarotti repays fans' devotion", 14 April) implies that the Balcony at Covent Garden is miles away, yet cost £150; in fact, it is not distant but seats only 87 at that price and is always relatively expensive. My wife and I went to hear Un Ballo in Maschera for £29 each in that part of the amphitheatre that has 238 seats. Another part had 88 seats at £49.50 and a further 197 at £45.50. Earlier this week I saw Britten's Peter Grimes for £14.50, and very enjoyable it was too.

As for the word "litist", I wonder if it has become a substitute for "minority"? Am I litist or just a member of a minority if I enjoy reading 17th century English metaphysical poetry, which costs nothing in monetary terms? If price is what is involved, why not just say so, although the argument then changes. How many people this holiday weekend will spend large and small sums just enjoying themselves in a wide variety of ways that will be beyond criticism by your reporter.

If the problem is one of taxpayers' money subsidising the rich, then the argument should not be confined to opera but to all the performing arts. Within its grant Covent Garden is surely entitled to be flexible in its pricing policy: in my view it strikes a fair balance between the rich and the less well-off, among whom I include myself.

Yours faithfully,


London, SE3

14 April