Page last updated at 11:54 GMT, Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Royal Opera seeks northern base

Leanne Benjamin in Manon.  Bill Cooper.
Manon opened at the Royal Opera House earlier this month

London's Royal Opera House could soon have a permanent second home in northern England.

The company, based in Covent Garden, is in talks to establish a presence for the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet at Manchester's Palace Theatre.

Talks with Manchester City Council are at an "early stage", the Royal Opera House said.

Royal Opera House chief executive Tony Hall said the theatre was the "perfect location" for the company.

A proposal is expected to go before culture secretary Andy Burnham this week, and the Royal Opera House is due to reveal more details at the end of the week.

'Compelling proposition'

It follows recent moves by the Royal Opera House to bring its productions to new audiences.

Last month, tickets for Mozart's masterpiece Don Giovanni were only made available to readers of The Sun newspaper.

Manchester City Council chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein said: "While there is a still a lot of work to do, we think we have a compelling proposition.

"If successful, this will be fantastic for Manchester and will further enhance our strong cultural offering.

"Establishing a new production, training and performance base here for the Royal Opera House would deliver significant economic benefit to the city by attracting more visitors and creating new jobs for local people."


The Royal Opera House currently hosts around 300 performances on its main stage each year from the Royal Opera, the Royal Ballet and its in-house orchestra.

Current productions include Kenneth MacMillan's ballet Manon and opera Matilde di Shabran.

Mr Hall said he was "delighted" with the developments in Manchester.

"The Palace Theatre is an iconic building in the heart of Manchester and is a perfect location for developing our relationship with cultural and educational centres in the city.

"Discussions are at a preliminary stage and we will be consulting with a wide range of stakeholders as we go forward."

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