Editorial: No bags allowed at Covent Garden

Editorial: No bags allowed at Covent Garden


norman lebrecht

May 25, 2017

The new security measures imposed at the Royal Opera House in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena atrocity will change the habits of operagoers.

Most people go to the opera straight from work, often carrying a briefcase or laptop. That’s no longer advisable, says the ROH.

So opera lovers will have to adjust their timeworn habits, either returning to the office after the opera to collect their essentials or making other arrangements.

They will, of course, adapt. This is a minor inconvenience in the face of a mortal threat. Londoners have proved themselves time and again to be flexible and cheerful. They have put up with much worse. They will stay calm and do whatever is required to stay safe and sane.

Nonetheless, the restriction on carrying personal belongings into the opera house is a rude intrusion of grim reality at the very moment when one enters a place of art, preparing to suspend disbelief.



  • Opera fan says:

    I travel to the ROH from Birmingham, going straight from work with an overnight bag. This new rule will mean I can no longer go to the opera.

  • Marianne Barton says:

    What about left-luggage facilities at stations? Available at Euston 07:00-23:00

    • Opera fan says:

      You have to REALLY want to go to the opera to travel from another part of the country, leave your bag at Euston, rush there in time for curtain up, and then trek back, hungry and tired, from Covent G to Euston (hoping left luggage is still open by the time you get there) en route to your London overnight accommodation to rescue your suitcase.

      Of course it’s just about doable but it adds yet more effort and expense and there comes a point when you have to wonder if it’s worth it.

      Venues on the continent have airport-style scanners for large bags. Not sure why they aren’t implementing those to make the customer experience better.

  • Steven Watson says:

    I emailed the ROH about this and those of us with normal-sized backpacks should be okay. Here’s their response:

    ‘Thank you for contacting the Royal Opera House.

    If your backpack is no larger than a briefcase or A3 sheet of paper it will be accepted. Alternatively, the nearest location where you would be able to store it is at the Left Luggage facility in Charing Cross Station (10 minute walk from the ROH). Should that not be the most convenient station for you due to the route you are taking, all other major Mainline stations (e.g. Waterloo, Kings Cross St Pancras, Paddington, etc.) also have similar services.

    We apologise for any inconvenience caused and hope you will have a great time on your next visit.’

  • AMetFan says:

    It’s all about the greater safety of all. Our society has become so incredibly entitled and self-indulgent that any infringement of personal comfort is met with righteous indignation. These are minor regulations, not draconian mandates. We cannot continue to indulge our minor personal preferences when we are all affected by these ever-present threats. We are a society–regardless of nationality–and we should act responsibly and without the petty griping. Being separated from your laptop or that stylish Gucci bag for three or four hours is a minor price to pay. No, it’s not a perfect solution, but it is a responsible step. I’m grateful.

    • Will Duffay says:

      Another way of looking at it: the terrorists are winning.

      • Christopher Clift says:

        The terrorist are not winning – this is a sensible move on the part of RH who have clarified that small bags (brief case sized which includes modest back-packs) will still be allowed.

  • AMetFan says:

    Sadly, we’ve moved way beyond facile platitudes. Win or lose; us or them. We have to deal with realities, and not just when possibilities become reality. That is not to say we’re giving into anything. Hardly. It is a struggle long in coming and it will be long in dismantling. Everyone must carry on until all are safe. No exceptions for laptops or designer bags or an inconvenient commute.

    • Steven says:

      ‘Everyone must carry on until all are safe’. An impossible standard. And these measures do not work. The objection is why introduce annoying measures that are at best window-dressing.

      • AMetFan says:

        And your solution to deal with the current threat?

        • Steven says:

          Why should I have a solution? I simply am sceptical of the ‘something must be done’ attitude. Security measures have little use. The Manchester bomber set off the bomb before going through security.

          If you want to halt or even reverse this trend, then something more long term like serious immigration reform, and a policy to counter Saudi influence and investigate and do something about mosques that have, for instance, literature by Qutb or Mawdudi.

          • penelope simpson says:

            Here, here. Steven. Just because some numpties want to bomb us back to the Stone Age, doesn’t mean we should change our way of life.

            What we all need is common sense and patience. I do gave to take a small bag to ROH because I come a long distance but I am happy to arrive earlier, if asked, also to pay for enhanced cloakroom facilities. ROH have to accept that as a major venue it is incumbent upon them to provide security. Trying to shrug it off on to the patrons is cheapskate and counter productive, not to mention Londoncentric.

  • Saxon Broken says:

    1. Something must be done to improve security.

    2. I am doing something.

    3. Therefor I am improving security.

  • John Hall says:

    Ametfan is right – this is our reality now, and probably for a long time to come, so we should applaud the move by ROH to try to make us safer in any way possible, rather than complain about personal inconvenience. We have a greater right to safety than we have over personal choice as to how many possessions we want to bring with us to the opera. In fact, the ROH should have brought this rule in years ago.
    Quite apart from the security aspect, we resent having to clamber over large items of personal effects to get to our seat, and also to put up with large bags of food items being spread around the floors of the circulation spaces at Amphitheatre level, and being brought into the audtorium also.