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Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Opera ticket price freeze
Royal Opera House
The Covent Garden venue was expensively refurbished
The Royal Opera House (ROH) has announced a series of ticket price freezes in order to combat accusations of elitism.

Prices for cheap seats will be frozen so that more than half the tickets on sale will cost less than 50.

Top price tickets will rise by no more than 5.

"We are looking at ways of making some of our ticket prices more affordable for more people," said executive director Tony Hall.

Tony Hall
Former BBC head of news Tony Hall
The ROH has faced on-going complaints that the only way to be sure of getting tickets to the opera is by becoming a Friend of Covent Garden and donating a sum of money.

The more money you give, the more likely you are to get a ticket.

The ROH has argued that it is constantly reviewing its prices and programming to achieve the best balances.

Before the Opera House closed for renovation in July 1997 the top price to "premium operas" - like the forthcoming performance of Tosca featuring Luciano Pavarotti - was 290.

That price has now dropped to 155.

Bottom price tickets will remain at 3 to 10 on Fridays or Saturdays or 4 to 12 earlier in the week.

The ROH is also attempting to extend the amounts of tickets available at lower prices.

"In a new initiative we are extending the lower Friday and Saturday prices for every evening performance of three opera productions, The Bartered Bride, the double bill of Duke Bluebeard's Castle and Erwartung and The Turn of the Screw," said Mr Hall.

"The prices for these operas will range from 3 to 90."

Deborah Bull and Antonio Soares Cervila
Bull and Antonio Soares Cervila in the BBC series Travels with my Tutu
Launching the ROH's new season, Mr Hall said it had increased the number of performances for both opera and ballet from 256 to 272.

He said it would give people "more chances to see what we do".

Under the new initiative almost 900 tickets for performances by Royal Opera's co-tenant at Covent Garden, The Royal Ballet, will cost 11 or less.

The Royal Ballet also announced on Wednesday that ballet star Deborah Bull is to be the Artistic director of two of the Royal Opera House's smaller venues.

Bull was due to retire as principal dancer at the end of this season.

Making the announcement, Mr Hall said: "I am delighted that Deborah Bull has agreed to take up this challenge."

"With her manifold skills as a dancer, writer, administrator and broadcaster Deborah will continue to be a huge asset to the organisation."

Her new post, which she will take up at the start of 2002, entails developing a programme for the Linbury Studio Theatre and Clore Studio Upstairs.

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Royal Opera House transcript
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