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Monday, 18 February, 2002, 10:54 GMT
Opera House 'attracts younger crowd'
The Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House has been criticised for elitism
Audiences at London's Royal Opera House are younger and less wealthy than popularly thought, new research has shown.

One fifth of opera goers are under 35 years old - and a similar proportion earn less than £15,000 per year.

We knew our audience was like this, but we needed research to prove it

Royal Opera House spokesman
And more than half of opera goers have an income less than £30,000, says the report by the consultants Experian.

Royal Opera House chief executive Tony Hall said: "These independent figures are encouraging, as they show that we are already attracting a far broader spectrum of the population than was previously thought."

The venue in Covent Garden, which was largely rebuilt in the late 1990s thanks to a £78.5m National Lottery award, has often been criticised for elitism.

Royal Opera House
The house will see more non-operatic concerts this year
In 1997 a review panel led by Sir Richard Eyre condemned the organisation for "complacency".

But a Royal Opera House spokesman told BBC News Online: "We have always known our audience was like this, but we needed research to prove it to other people."

The Experian study says that 37% of those going to the opera are students and young professionals.

It also finds that 42% are under 45.

But there is some less welcome news in the study. For young adults, opera and ballet remain very much a minority interest.

In the 18-25 age group, the survey claims 7% go to the ballet and 5.6% to the opera.

Mr Hall said: "The analysis is helping us to plan for the future.

Tony Hall
Tony Hall took up his post in April last year
"But we are already committed to making the Royal Opera House more accessible - cheaper seats, school matinées, TV relays, giant screens in the Piazza."

Last week the Royal Opera House announced that it will be broadcasting a production of Prokoviev's Romeo and Juliet to an east London park.

The building will also host an increasing number of commercial concerts on Sunday evenings - including a performance by Björk and a concert given by the Indian musician Ravi Shankar.

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See also:

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16 Mar 01 | Music
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