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Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 13:54 GMT
New fans flock to Opera House
The Royal Opera House has been criticised for elitism
The Royal Opera House has been criticised for elitism
The Royal Opera House (ROH), London, is attracting more and more first time visitors, with a third of bookings from people new to the venue, according to new research.

The findings back the ROH's claims that it is attracting a less elitist audience.

Last month they published another report which showed one fifth of opera goers were under 35 years old - and a similar proportion earn less than £15,000 per year.

And more than half of opera goers have an income less than £30,000, said the research by the consultants Experian.

ROH chief executive Tony Hall told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the signs are very encouraging.

Myths

He said: "Of course there are people with a lot of money going to the opera house, but that is not the whole picture.

"One of the myths is that if you are not a member you can't get to the opera house. In fact over half of our audiences for most of our performances are members of the general public."

The report comes just a day after the ROH announced its latest season of performances.
Simon Rattle is part of the new programme
Simon Rattle is part of the new programme

One of the highlights is an adaptation of the book Sophie's Choice which is to have its world première.

It will be the first new work to be premièred at the venue since Alexander Goehr's Ariane in 1995.

Composer Nicholas Maw adapted William Styron's 1979 novel, and the opera will be conducted by Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra head Simon Rattle and directed by outgoing National Theatre director Trevor Nunn.

New productions of another seven operas will be included in the prestigious venue's 2002/3 season, which includes a total of 20 operas plus a range of ballets.

It also sees the first programme put together by new music director Antonio Pappano.

The venue in Covent Garden was largely rebuilt in the late 1990s thanks to a £78.5m National Lottery award.

See also:

27 Mar 02 | Arts
World première at Opera House
23 Jan 02 | Wales
Terfel takes on the dark side
14 Dec 01 | Reviews
Royal Ballet's moving Onegin
16 Oct 01 | Arts
Boos for Opera House première
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