Opera house bans water bottles for fear of gin

Opera house bans water bottles for fear of gin


norman lebrecht

May 07, 2018

What is keeping English National Opera alive these days is the musicals that occupy the stage for a couple of months each year.

Musicals, however, are not opera. They attract a different crowd. Sometimes less decorous.

Where operagoers might sip discreetly from a water bottle, dabbing their mouth with a silk handkerchief, these uncouth hedonists fill their plastic bottles with gin or vodka and experience the kind of release that is definitely not included in their ticket price.

So ENO has now banned water bottles from all performances except opera.

That’ll stop ’em.

Report here.

The day ENO does something right, we’ll let you know.


  • Sharon says:

    If opera is primarily attended by older people it is a mistake to prevent the bringing of water bottles. Older people dehydrate more easily especially in the summer.

    Sipping from water bottles, although the bottles can create their own disturbances as we discussed just yesterday, , also can prevent coughing which would be more of a disturbance at a classical music concert

    • Una says:

      Opera in Britain is mist certainly not just attended by the old like me!!!

      I was sitting next to.someone drinking vodka at the Proms out of water bottles. It does happen!!! Opera North banned water bottles two years ago. And it’s not the older people who were bringing them in at all but the young people who couldn’t get past ten minutes of music in the middle of winter without yet another sip, and fizzy water too! The management got fed up of complaints from all ages about the distraction and stopped the lot! If they see someone using a mobile or doing their FB or emails, you get a torch shone on you!! Welcome to no nonsense Yorkshire – and the fantastic Opera North.

  • Jane Susanna Ennis says:

    Interesting experience at Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh. In the mornings (chamber concerts and Lider recitals) you’re not allowed to take drinks into the auditorium…..but one evening I went to a folk concert, and it was an entirely different audience (apart from me) and an entirely different atmosphere, and people were allowed to take their drinks (lovely cold beer) into the auditorium.

  • Sue says:

    Is there any particular reason this story sits side by side with one about a Boosey person who died?

  • Yuliya Gorenman says:

    Utter stupidity. Recently attended several concerts at the Kennedy Center and thank God that I had a water bottle with me. People indiscriminately douse themselves with perfume and it can trigger an asthma attack in no time. Discreetly sipping water is what saved me from a full blown disaster.

  • Bernadette Nagy says:

    I am sorry – but you need to take this photo down – it is utterly disrespectful – if you need to be told this, then please get some lessons in respect. I am so appalled by this photo accompanying the story – so unrelated…..why not post a naked bloke???

    • norman lebrecht says:

      A reader has raised concerns about the image we used in this post. The image is a rock-festival generic on substance abuse. It is not disrespectful to women or to youth, except perhaps to those who indulge in excess. We used it in this report to highlight ENO’s water-bottle discrimination between ‘respectable’ opera goers and people who buy tickets to musicals and rock shows who, by imputation, cannot be trusted with drink. The image underlines the absurdity of ENO’s mindset, which seems to proclaim that all rock fans act like this. That is why we chose it.