Page last updated at 23:08 GMT, Monday, 8 September 2008 00:08 UK

Opera taken over by Sun readers

Don Giovanni
Singers performing Don Giovanni in Austria

Readers of The Sun newspaper turned out in force for the opening night of the Royal Opera House's new season.

Tickets for Mozart's masterpiece Don Giovanni were only made available to readers of the paper.

In reaching out to new audiences, the Opera House invited people to enter a ballot to buy tickets for the performance at London's Covent Garden.

The show was also broadcast live to the 18-strong Picturehouse UK cinema chain - a first for the opera house.

It was 22-year-old Clare Chick's first time at the opera and she travelled down from Sheffield to see it.


First-time opera goers' verdicts

"I've always wanted to see Don Giovanni so thought it was a good opportunity to see it," she said.

"I really enjoyed it. All the singers are so talented and the singing is beautiful - it's a lot better than I thought it would be."

London student Nathan Weaver, 25, thought the initiative was a great idea: "What The Sun is doing is fantastic - opening the opera up to people who wouldn't normally be able to come," he said.

"This is the second time I've been to the opera but I don't think I would've come had it not been for the offer, because being a student I need to find cheaper offers to be here.

"But it was incredible. I definitely want to come more often now - it's certainly got me into it."

Stuart Tweedy, 36, from Aylesbury, in Buckinghamshire, found the offer in The Sun and applied online to get tickets as a surprise for his wife, Amber.

'Too long'

The couple left during the interval, however.

"We left because it was rather cramped," said Mrs Tweedy.

"It's not a reflection on the opera - it was amazing. The voices were great and the lighting was fabulous, but there was a gentleman who decided to share half my seat with me."

Mr Tweedy said: "It was my first time at the opera - it was ok but after an hour and a half sitting in a cramped seat it was getting a little bit too long for me, but I'd go again."

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

When the initiative was first announced in July, chief executive Tony Hall said: "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."

Tickets for the three-and-a-quarter hour performance were priced at between 7.50 and 30, which is considered cheap for a night out at the opera.

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

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