Letter: Opera

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Sir: Chris Smith, Secretary of State for Culture, is continuing to get it wrong about opera in London. Having decided that the Royal Opera should be the "People's Opera", he is now proposing that it should share its renovated building with English National Opera. If any company should be a "People's Opera" it is ENO, where opera is performed in English and by mainly home-grown talent.

If the Covent Garden building is to be shared by the two opera companies, the building works currently under way will surely need to be suspended to allow a thorough and far-reaching review, which raises the spectre of another British Library fiasco.

But fundamentally these ideas are flawed, for while it is just about justifiable for the beautiful Covent Garden auditorium to be a venue for the display of the best international musicians, no one can pretend that the auditorium can provide uniform (and democratic) sight-lines and comfort throughout for all modes of opera performance. We would do far better to follow the example of the Metropolitan Opera in New York and build a completely new building on a new site where modern standards can be achieved.


London SE4