Page last updated at 18:51 GMT, Tuesday, 22 July 2008 19:51 UK

Opera house targets Sun readers

A Royal Opera production of Verdi's Falstaff
The Royal Opera House is trying to make performances more accessible

Tickets for the opening night of the new Royal Opera House season will only be available to readers of the Sun newspaper, it has been announced.

Details on how to book tickets for Mozart masterpiece Don Giovanni will be published in the paper on 30 July.

A ballot will then take place for tickets - priced from 7.50 to 30 - for the 8 September London performance.

The Royal Opera announced that the show will also be screened live at UK cinemas - a first for the company.

Readers who are successful in the ballot will be allowed to buy up to four tickets each for the performance at London's Covent Garden.

I'm thrilled that we're able to invite those who have never been to the Opera House before to experience a first night performance
Tony Hall
Royal Opera House chief executive

Chief executive Tony Hall said: "This is a very exciting time for the Royal Opera House.

"We have so many opportunities to open up our doors to more people and I'm thrilled that we're able to invite those who have never been to the opera house before to experience a first night performance."

Financial support for the initiative is being provided by the Helen Hamlyn Trust, which provides grants for causes championed by Royal Opera supporter Lady Hamlyn and her late husband Lord Hamlyn.

The Royal Opera said Don Giovanni would be shown at the 18-strong Picturehouse cinema chain - which already shows performances by New York's Metropolitan Opera - and "other UK cinemas".

A full programme of live and recorded screenings will also hit the silver screen during the Royal Opera's 2008/2009 season.

Your comments:

Its nice to see the higher arts being marketed to the common masses. What has been forgotten was that Opera was very much a part of popular culture when it was created, its only in recent times that has seen opera elevated to this so called podium of higher culture. It is nice to see that efforts are being taken to return Opera to its original home within popular culture.
Daniel Gray, Newport

Funny how opera and ballet is seen as too expensive and elitist - remind me how much a ticket costs to see an England play at Wembley?
John Williams, Hitchin, Herts

Working-class (painter & paperer) opera lover here... I've missed it since I moved from London. The idea of seeing it "live" in cinemas is fantastic. Don't give a monkey's about the Sun newspaper though - I have a long memory... Hillsboro' 1989... 'nuff said?? I'll bet you a quid to a bent safety-pin that it's going to bring a lot of patronising comments about "opera & the hoi polloi" in some places though.
Jac, Exeter, England

I find it slightly condescending that people believe that just because someone reads The Sun they won't know what the opera is. I am sure there are plenty of middle class Telegraph readers who have also never been.
H P, Bath

This is an excellent idea - trying to reach the masses with a section of the arts often passed off as elitest and upper-class. However, surely the Royal Opera House can afford to truly reach the wider community... by making the ballot for FREE tickets? Surely the biggest obstacle between the arts and the public is financial?
Cassandra, Herts, UK

How patronising! Doubtless the 'superior' classes eager to snap up opening night tickets on the cheap will buy The Sun for the first time in their lives and see why the 'masses' make it the most read paper in the UK. Who knows, some may end up taking their first booze cruise to Calais!
Alex, London

I'm all for it - I love oepra but don't have enough of it on CD and have never actually been to a live one as no one will come with me. The only problem for me is the paper they're using - as I'd never buy it.
Sarah Kay, UK

Opera is normally associated as a middle class activity. So, for the Opera House to target The Sun Readers, typically not middle class, can only be a good thing in trying to make this art form appeal to a wider range of audience. Thus, deleting the old image of opera it is not accessible and is elitist.
Jason Ham, Wellington, Somerset

It's all very well reaching out to the masses, but are the masses really interested in opera; and by choosing The Sun, is The Royal Opera merely pandering through cynical media manipulation to get further coverage for what is an elitist institution?
Christopher Frost, Ruthin, North Wales

A similar idea has been run very successfully for a few years now at the local level in Newbury where tickets to an annual professional opera at the racecourse have been available for only a few pounds - making it accessible to the whole community. Its a good idea.
Sarah, Newbury

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