Opera for oldies: Covent Garden's new attraction

Opera for oldies: Covent Garden's new attraction


norman lebrecht

October 24, 2011

Sometimes two press releases land in the wrong order. Second things first.

The ROH is, very commendably, making cheap tickets available to the elderly and infirm of Westminster who cannot afford £200 seats on their £100 pension. It’s a terrific initiative and I hope other houses take heed and copy (they copy most other things, so why not this?).

Earlier in the day, the ROH announced even more exciting tidings (via the intermezzo blog), timed to coincide with Placido Domingo’s touchdown in London today after his heroic efforts to open the new opera house in Oman and entertain the good folk of Croatia.

In an airport lounge along the way, PD must have remembered that it’s 40 years since he first sang at Covent Garden. Let’s have a gala, then. Opera for oldies, authentic as it comes. invite everyone who was there in 1971, what do you say?

Er, no. This time tickets are £225 and no freebies for pensioners. Ah well, I guess charity begins somewhere else…


Oh wait, here’s Placido with one of his favourite mega-oldies, a state pensioner if ever I saw one.

Immediate release




Covent Garden-based charity Contact the Elderly – which tackles social isolation among the elderly – is delighted to have received tickets for ballet and opera performances for the older people it supports, courtesy of the Royal Opera House.


An outing took place over the weekend (Saturday 22nd October) when 20 older people, many well into their 80’s and 90’s, and their volunteer drivers, enjoyed an exciting performance of The Royal Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty. In September, the Royal Opera House also invited a group of older guests to see a performance of the Royal Opera’s Faust.


In addition, the Royal Opera House has extended its generosity to further performances, enabling Contact the Elderly to take more older people to future performances of The Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker and The Royal Opera’s La Traviata.


Contact the Elderly’s London Executive Officer, Cliff Rich, said: “We are thrilled to be working with the Royal Opera House to look at ways that older people over the age of 75 – who may once have had an interest in the arts, or who would like to experience a very special trip for the first time – can enjoy the opera and ballet at this time in their lives.


“The charity is committed to offering a lifeline of friendship to the oldest and loneliest people in the local area, and indeed London as a whole, and that is exactly what the Royal Opera House is helping us to achieve by offering us tickets to these four performances. The older guests were delighted to spend the afternoon in the company of others, while being treated to a fantastic ballet performance.”

Royal Opera House staff were there to meet and greet the older guests, who had access to a private bar area with tea, coffee and cakes, before the show started and during the interval.

Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, said: “We are delighted to be able to provide a great afternoon at the Opera House for older people facing isolation in their later years. Through the generous support of our sponsors, The Robert Gavron Charitable Trust, those who visited the Royal Opera House for The Sleeping Beauty were thrilled to be able to see world-class ballet from some of the best seats in the house. We are excited about being able to repeat the experience for two other productions this season and we are very grateful to the important work of Contact the Elderly in helping us to facilitate these days out.”

Contact the Elderly helps to alleviate acute loneliness by organising free, monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people within local communities. The charity recruits volunteer hosts and drivers to help arrange the social gatherings. In London alone there are over 75 groups, comprising over 640 older guests and almost 1,200 volunteers.


While other local services may be under the threat of cutback, Contact the Elderly is not only keeping existing groups open, but is actively looking to open new groups in the capital, to support even more older people. Over the course of the next year, Contact the Elderly plans to open 16 new groups in London, enabling the charity to support an additional 150 lonely older people living in the capital.


If anyone would like to volunteer to drive one or two local older people one Sunday afternoon a month to a tea party, or host 2 tea parties a year, then please do get in touch on: freephone 0800 716543 or info@contact-the-elderly.org.uk




Notes to editors:


For further media information, please contact Kellie Smith, Communications Officer at Contact the Elderly on 020 7420 5814 or emailkellie.smith@contact-the-elderly.org.uk