UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

Country-house opera wonders where it will get its next million



There’s more to the English summer social calendar than sport – but it is in danger of being drowned out by the cries of disappointed football fans and sapped by lack of cash.

During the June and July evenings when much of Britain grinds to a halt to watch World Cup matches on giant screens in pubs and smaller screens at home, a different style of audience escapes to the countryside, wearing evening dress and carrying picnic hampers, for the 2010 season of country-house operas.

While the most famous are at Glyndebourne, a younger rival Grange Park Opera in Hampshire has also earned critical acclaim.

It is undeniably elite, but that does not mean it does not have money issues.

Whereas football is guaranteed enormous audiences and sponsorship deals, often in defiance of the quality of play, Grange Park ticket sales fell last year against the backdrop of global recession and funding cuts to the arts.

from Fan Fare:

Carmen – “trollops, treachery, filthy vices”

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.