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Friday, 16 March, 2001, 17:03 GMT
Opera lovers petitioned
A surprise is in store for Friday's Turandot audience
The audience at a performance at the Royal Opera House has been urged by workers to intervene in an industrial dispute that could threaten future performances.

Opera patrons were asked to approach Tony Hall, the executive director designate at the Royal Opera House, to ask him to help avert strike action.

The BBC's head of news, Mr Hall is due to take up his new post in April.

People who work here care about the Opera House and have not taken the decision for industrial action lightly

Royal Opera House workers petition

Workers at the ROH are considering the strike action after crisis talks with management broke down without a solution last week.

The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinema and Theatre Union (Bectu) has balloted its members for industrial action over alleged victimisation of its Covent Garden branch secretary.

Workers handed out a petition to opera-goers which said: "People who work here care about the Opera House and have not taken the decision for industrial action lightly.

"We feel we have been forced into this situation."

As the majority of backstage staff, from scene changers to maintenance staff are members of Bectu, strike action could bring the Opera House to a standstill.

Bectu said it was anxious to avoid disruption of performances and that was why they were petitioning audiences to intervene.

"We are making this appeal to patrons of the Opera House to exercise their voices to get management to back off by bringing a discreet pressure to bear," said a Bectu spokesman.

Tony Hall
Could director designate Tony Hall intervene?
Even if they avoid strike action, there could be trouble ahead for the Royal Opera House anyway.

Reports had been circulating of low ticket sales for the Hans Werner Henze opera Boulevard Solitude.

Henze, who is regarded as one of the greatest living composers, has composed 10 operas and 10 symphonies and is widely performed in Europe.

But a spokesman for the Royal Opera House was unperturbed.

"We're hoping it does well at the box office but we're not expecting it to do as well as something like Turandot will.

"Twelve months ago there was criticism in some quarters that the Royal Opera House had been promoting too much 'safe' opera.

"We're not sitting here with our heads in our hands," he added.

See also:

09 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Strike threat at Royal Opera House
22 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Opera meets Bollywood
24 Feb 01 | Europe
Caball fights male cabal
07 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Opera impresario locks out Equity
14 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Opera House's Boulevard battle
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