Covent Garden offers £230 seats for £10, but…

Covent Garden offers £230 seats for £10, but…


norman lebrecht

September 06, 2017

The Royal Opera House is planning to make some of its best seats available for the price of a large pizza.

The catch?

You’ll have to sit on the floor.

Oliver Mears, the RO’s director, is intent on reviving the old Midland Bank Proms, where rows of stalls seats were removed to make way for young operagoers, sitting on cushions and blankets.

Brilliant initiative, long overdue.

The Telegraph has an interview with Oliver this morning.



  • Maria says:

    Only good can come of this.

    But will the MSM be giving it a mention, alongside David Beckham’s new haircut, or whatever?

    How many people outside the opera circles will hear about it?

    • Cynical Bystander says:

      How many people outside the catchment area of Bow St will get any benefit from this? Thinking of those whose taxes in part allow ROH to launch initiatives like this but who are denied direct access to the live experience because they live in what in opera circles at Covent Garden are patronisingly known as the provinces. This is a very partisan form of access, seen from beyond the boundaries of TfL.

      • Jon says:

        I’d be interested to see your solution to the problem that live performances are most easily experienced by people who can get to the venue. Perhaps cancel all subsidies to concert halls, opera houses and theatres on the grounds that some people who don’t live close by and may not be interested can’t get there easily?

        The Opera House used to tour the country every few years, but it was prohibitively expensive, and the Arts Council decided not to continue with funding for these tours.

        Performances can be seen across the country in cinemas, and through the free screenings paid for by BP.

        Bringing back the old Midland Bank proms seasons is a really good idea. One of the best things about the old proms seasons was that it meant people new to opera could experience the performance close up, rather than being introduced to opera through a pair of binoculars from the back of the amphitheatre

      • Maria says:

        The ROH has made two attempts to establish a base in Manchester and modifications were made to the Palace Theatre stage. They failed for various reasons but, as I recall, the projects were not universally welcome locally.

        So far as the ENO is concerned, I believe NL mentioned in this blog that the company was not allowed by the Arts Council to tour the UK.

        As Jon asks, what is your solution?

        • Anonymouse says:

          English National Opera North is still thriving. They just call it Opera North…

          Btw, this system of promming also exited as part of Paul Hamlyn week and was taking place well into the 90s.

      • Tommy says:

        By your logic, Cynical Bystander, every orchestra in the country (funded by ACE and, therefore, us) excludes people who can’t get to them. I’d love to get to see some of the new initiatives in, say, Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester, but I don’t often have the time or resources to get there. I don’t feel I’m ‘denied access’ – it’s just the way things go. There’s always something closer to home.
        You also seem to ignore the fact that millions of people come to London every year from all over the UK to experience countless performances supported by state funding.

        • Maria says:

          And the highest number of international visitors per year after Bangkok, around 19m, helps boost attendances and, arguably, makes the subsidies worthwhile as their money is spent elsewhere.

          Some argue that ticket sales to tourists should not be subsidised, but that’s a separate issue.