Royal Opera sets accent on youth for cut-rate opening night

Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:53pm EDT
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - The Royal Opera will slash ticket prices to appeal to students and young people and will revive the racy modern opera "Anna Nicole" for its season opener in September in what management said was a bid to knock the stuffing out of galas.

All tickets in the house, whose 2,200 seats can go for as much as 200 pounds ($330), will be priced from 1 pound to 25 pounds for the opening night on September 11 and will be sold through the opera's student standby scheme and in conjunction with a music venue that works with young people, the ROH said.

"I think it's fantastic to have a season opening gala which is something that sounds stuffy and elitist to actually be a night where we celebrate new work ... and is celebrated by selling the whole house to students and young people," the ROH's

Director of Opera Kasper Holten told Reuters on Monday.

Music Director Antonio Pappano, whose contract the ROH announced was being extended until at least the end of 2017, will conduct English composer Mark-Anthony Turnage's opera based on the life of the Playboy centerfold who married an oil billionaire.

Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek will reprise the title role which she sang wearing a costume that featured prosthetic breasts for the London premiere in 2011.

Holten said that with the extension of his contract the English-born Pappano, who has been the music director of Britain's premiere opera house for 12 seasons, "is soon becoming one of the longest standing music directors of the Royal Opera and certainly one of the most important and influential ones".

Among singers featured in the next season are German tenor Jonas Kaufmann appearing as the poet hero of Giordano's "Andrea Chenier", Swedish soprano Nina Stemme as Isolde in Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" and Russian soprano Anna Netrebko as Mimi in Puccini's "La Boheme".   Continued...

Eva-Maria Westbroek, who plays Anna Nicole, takes a curtain call after performing in the opening night of the opera based on the life of Anna Nicole Smith, at the Royal Opera House in central London, February 17, 2011. REUTERS/Andrew Winning