Letter: `People's opera'

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The Independent Online
Sir: Surely, if a "people's opera" means anything, it means providing world-class performances of a wide range of operas at prices that do not exclude anyone from attending. You don't create such a thing by more than halving the number of performances by the two main opera companies in London ("The death of the Royal Opera House", 4 November) .

There are legitimate criticisms of the management of the Royal Opera House but the quality of the work produced there is genuinely world class. The companies deserve to be judged on the quality of their work, not simply on the quality of their management. Furthermore, despite popular misconceptions, at every performance of the Royal Opera there are a significant number of tickets available at pounds 7 or less. I know, because I buy them. High prices in other parts of the House are entirely a result of the low level of public subsidy received by the company.

How will English National Opera continue to be as accessible as it is, in a theatre that has a third fewer seats? Either prices will go up or the range of the work it does will diminish. Without increased subsidy to all the companies, prices will remain high.

By effectively making these companies homeless, the talent brought together in all three companies will drift away to companies and countries that take the arts seriously. An operatic heritage of over 50 years will be destroyed and we will all be the poorer for it.


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