LETTER: Operatic costs, funding and audiences

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\From Mr Richard Searle

Sir: With regard to your leading article "Making opera pay its way" (1 February), you suggest that Raymond Gubbay's Albert Hall venture will attract those intolerant of the "soaring prices, social grandeur [and] long hours" at Covent Garden. I would take issue with each of these.

Both the Royal Opera and English National Opera sell seats in the upper part of the theatre at less than the cost of entry to a West End cinema. These areas of the theatre are favoured by many dedicated opera-goers and the atmosphere is open and friendly: "social grandeur" and the corporate junket brigade may be found elsewhere. As for "long hours", surely Mr Gubbay is not presenting an abridged version of the already short La Boheme?

Yours faithfully,

Richard Searle

London, SW15