Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

Carmen – “trollops, treachery, filthy vices”

August 20, 2009

Perhaps the world of opera could learn a thing or two about marketing to the masses. Long seen as the bastion of wealthy, ageing patrons and obsessive fans, opera houses say they are trying to reach out to a wider audience by bringing down ticket prices and beaming performances on to giant screens and into cinemas.

The Sun tabloid in Britain has an alternative approach — make opera sexy. Aftermozart the doors of the notoriously pricey Royal Opera House were thrown open to Sun readers last year for a cut-price performance of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”, a similar offer has been announced for Bizet’s “Carmen” on October 3. All tickets will be priced between 7.50 and 30 pounds ($12-50), a far cry from regular prices of up to 230 pounds per seat, not including the exclusive boxes.

Its description of Carmen sounds like an advertisement for a night out at a lap dance club: “Georges Bizet’s brilliant but tragic French opera, set in Seville around 1830, is packed with trollops, treachery, filthy vices and fabulous voices.” It goes on to describe Carmen as a “slapper”, a less-than-complimentary term describing a woman of, shall we say, easy virtue.

And here is what the most widely read British daily newspaper had to say about Don Giovanni: “More than 2,000 of you were treated to a night of blood, betrayal, ghosts and topless totty in the story about a bed-hopping stud who is dragged to hell for his wicked ways.”

If London’s Royal Opera House or the Metropolitan Opera in New York hired the Sun to write¬†their programmes, they might just get the diverse audience they crave.


The Royal Opera House is a rip off. No wonder they are reducing tickets to desperately low prices. I am sure the only reason they can survive is by exploiting the tourist trade. I spent 60 pounds on a ticket a few months ago and found I had a pole obstructing my vision when I got to my seat, although when I purchased it was told it was unobstructed view. The usher was sympathetic and suggested I make a complaint. When I went to the box office, the front-of-house manager looked down his nose at me and obviously could have cared less. He denied the seat was obstructed and refused to refund my money. I will never return.

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