The Times’ music critic Richard Morrison reviewed Covent Garden’s reopening this weekend from a seat at home.
‘With so few seats available…,’ he begins, before warning us four paragraphs further on that he was ‘witnessing it online in my living-room (a case of temporary Covid-19 shielding, sadly)’.
That struck a dud note.
If the opera house has gone to the trouble of reopening, a newspaper like the Times should have made sure its critic was at the venue. No newpaper would cover a football or tennis match from a live feed. The same standard should apply to the performing arts.
A critic in his or her living room loses the essential third dimension when watching performance. Morrison, more experienced than most, was able to suggest something of the magnitude of the production.
But not being there was wrong. If he was quarantined, someone else should have gone.
We have a right to expect that a critic should be there.