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London Opera Gimmick to Bring Culture to Tabloid Masses

For a publicity stunt at London's Royal Opera House, the controversy may not be over 'til that fat lady, you know whats. It's elite vs. lowbrow, and it's hard to see who's in the right.

Here's the gimmick: the opera house limited tickets to a prestigious premiere to readers of The Sun, a tabloid newspaper, in a bid to attract a more diverse audience and upset the image that the opera is just for the elite. Ticket prices for good seats usually run $400 (that's a high note!) so the Sun deal reserves all 2,200 seats for readers at prices from $15 to $60. The head of the opera says, "we have so many opportunities to open up our doors to more people and I'm thrilled that we're able to invite those who have never been to the Opera House before to experience a first-night performance."

Nice right? Who can find fault with that? To find out,


The deputy editor of Opera magazine for one, who said, "the ticket deal will put the backs up of a lot of the loyal audiences who already have to jump through a lot of hoops to get tickets." More local reactions to the story say that it's all well and good to market the high arts to the "common masses" especially since the arts, including opera, was originally meant for everyone. The blunter reactions accuse the masses of having "no interest" in such high-minded pursuits. So the elite don't want to share — therefore the opera is doing a righteous thing, right?

But what about this? By targeting the deal to readers of a tabloid paper with the giveaway, isn't the opera reinforcing a stereotype? That if you read this paper, certainly you can't afford to, nor have you ever been to something so fancy. Here, we'll even give a discount to you so you can finally see what you've been missing. A little backhanded, perhaps?

Is this a great idea, or are they being unintentionally elitist by trying to be inclusive?


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bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 8 years
I don't see a problem with it. It's an opportunity, regardless of what you want to read into it. Whether or not people will actually take advantage of this is another story ... but I still think they did well by putting it out there.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
Seems like a great idea for outreach and publicity.
bleached bleached 8 years
I love opera. Thanks to an awesome choir director in high school, I've been going to the opera since I was 15. And this year, I convinced my brother and my parents to go to a performance... and they loved it! I think this is a fantastic idea!
myladybloom myladybloom 8 years
I do think it's a little bit silly. If you want to get the general public more interested in opera, that's fine. But readers of the SUN?! That's a little off base if you ask me. On the other hand, I also think it's interesting that you chose to use a picture from "Boris Goudonov".
CoralAmber CoralAmber 8 years
In Chicago, many theaters have ticket raffles on the day of the show. They save two rows of good seats up front and anyone can enter in person a few hours before hand and get discounted tickets.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Well I think in the court of public opinion they're damned if they do and damned if they don't so why not and get some good out of it. My first partner was an opera singer. I remember the first day I saw him walk out onto the stage 6'5" Blue Eyes and singing my name! LOL! Opera is great IMO if you know what the hell their saying. We used to lay in bed at night and put one on and he'd interpret the story for me it was fun. Just like story time.
stephley stephley 8 years
I think we risk furthering any possible insult the Opera might be committing by determining that they are being insulting - maybe the response will surprise everyone. I've been surprised, in a good way, a number of times when I learned the unexpected passions of other people. My own daughter discovered she likes French Jazz by listening at a Putomayo listening stand at Whole Foods.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
It does sound pretty condescending when you put it like that. And I can see why the loyal fans would be irritated.
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