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Letter: Threat to the ENO

Sir: Chris Smith, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has come up with the right solution for the Royal Opera House. The idea that the Royal Opera, the Royal Ballet and the English National Opera companies could not share the same building is nonsense. The ballet could perform at 2.30, ENO could perform at 6.45, and the Royal Opera could perform at 9.00.

It will be argued that operas cannot be done in two hours. Cut them, then. Most operas are far too long anyway. The Crush Bar could be hired out to corporations, who could then still come to Covent Garden but without having the inconvenience and boredom of sitting through an opera.

Smith's ideas could be carried over to the Royal National Theatre, where there are three theatres. What a waste! Let the RNT keep the Lyttelton, but give the Olivier to the RSC and the Cottesloe to the Royal Court. The classics are extremely expensive. Savings could easily be made. Instead of Three Sisters, have Two Sisters. Instead of The Cherry Orchard have The Cherry Tree, instead of A Month in the Country have A Day in the Country. Instead of Romeo and Juliet have either Romeo or Juliet.

Nor does London need so many art galleries. I visited the Royal Academy, the Tate Gallery and the Hayward Gallery the other morning. There is a terrible waste of space below, above and between the pictures. Not one gallery used the ceiling. If the ceiling was good enough for Michelangelo, then the ceiling should be good enough for everybody else. Keep one gallery. Scrap the other two.


London W2