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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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