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Thursday, 2 November, 2000, 13:08 GMT
'Arrogant' opera chiefs lambasted
The Royal Opera
The Royal Opera House has continued to court controversy
Classical music impresario Raymond Gubbay has accused the management of London's Royal Opera House of running a "semi-private clique", excluding ordinary members of the public.

Gubbay - often credited with increasing opera's popularity - accused the current management of "paternalistic, clubbie arrogance".

His outburst came on Tuesday following news that his application to run the world famous venue - home to both the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet - had been rejected.


We can only assume that it already has in mind somebody who is prepared to work as a toady to the chairman, continuing the 19th century tradition of paternalistic, clubbie arrogance into the 21st century

Raymond Gubbay

The former chief executive Michael Kaiser left earlier this year to become president of the John F Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington.

In his time at the Opera House, Kaiser saw it through a troubled 214m refurbishment, a change of image and secured extra funding.

Public interest

However, the ROH has continued to court controversy in recent months over the high-price of tickets - and internal failings such as poor visibility and acoustics.

In his application to run the Opera House, Gubbay proposed a 12-point action plan for his company to improve the finances and accessibility of the prestigious venue.

But the ROH board rejected the application on the grounds that it was inappropriate for a company to be in charge.

In response, Gubbay wrote a bitter letter to ROH chairman Sir Colin Southgate, accusing his board of having a predetermined agenda.

"We can only assume that it already has in mind somebody who is prepared to work as a toady to the chairman, continuing the 19th century tradition of paternalistic, clubbie arrogance into the 21st century," said Gubbay.

He added that the ROH maintained its reputation for elitism despite public interest in becoming more involved and their indirect financial contributions through taxes and the National Lottery.

In response, the board said it was an equal opportunities employer and weighed up applications for advertised jobs against carefully drawn-up criteria.

It added that it could not comment on specific applications for jobs which were "a matter of confidence between the applicant and the selection committee".

However, the board also said it would welcome a personal application from Gubbay rather than a corporate one.

See also:

25 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Opera chief goes to Washington
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