Playboy model, cheap seats lure youth to London's Royal Opera opener

Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:10pm EDT
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - The Royal Opera House rolled out the red carpet for young people on Thursday for season opener "Anna Nicole," based on the life of American stripper and Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith whose voluptuous surgically enhanced cleavage attracted a billionaire.

Traditionally the season opener would be a well-heeled event with lavish displays of diamonds and luxury cars.

But in a deliberate bid to cross the generational divide and fill the house with young people, the ROH sold seats that sometimes go for as much as 200 pounds ($325) for prices ranging from 1 pound to 25 pounds, to students and people aged 16 to 25.

The result was an audience that looked - by design - like it might have been more at home in a rock club than an opera house.

The ROH threw in finishing touches, including a short stretch of red carpet on the street outside while pretend paparazzi flashed cameras as the audience arrived. They also sold popcorn during the interval.

"I couldn't wish for anything better tonight," Kasper Holten, the ROH's director of opera, said.

"I think it's the first time in my entire life that I feel like one of the oldest people in an opera house."

The subject matter of the opera, a revival of a 2011 production based on a libretto by Richard Thomas with an eclectic, pop-influenced score by British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage, captivated the audience.   Continued...

A man walks past posters put up at the Royal Opera House on the opening night of the opera based on the life of Anna Nicole Smith, in central London, February 17, 2011. REUTERS/Andrew Winning